We are all guilty of fantasizing about a different life, of wishing we had more money, notoriety, a better partner, interesting friends and that picture-perfect scenario we see in the movies and magazines. But we miss something by trying to uphold these perceived standards of success. We miss out on reality... and the joy of our human imperfection.
For us "real" women, there are mentoring programs springing up all over the place -- an opportunity to meet "successful" women and to learn how to navigate the professional and personal domains. This new wave of structured mentorship is needed and wonderful, especially for women who keep a tight schedule due to the demands on our time. But, it is my hope that honesty and candor are part of today's mentoring relationships -- that women mentors are showing off their wrinkles and professional battle wounds when they are coaching other women. Because while age and professional titles may separate us, our experiences as women are generally the same. And for the most part, there is some aspect of life that gets messy in the climb to the top. Relationships get rocky, colleagues get competitive, kids get left at school and you spill coffee all over your favorite off-white dress (sometimes all in the same day). And then there are days where you think you could teach wonder woman a thing or two and you can't stop being impressed with yourself. It's our willingness to ride the waves and admit that we don't have it all figured out that makes us invaluable to each other as mentors and cheerleaders.
We are at a unique juncture in history where women are trying to figure out how to be superheroes in every domain of their life -- and that's physically impossible. We look at modern-day role models that we see on TV or leading big companies and wonder "how in the world does she do it all?" The answer: She doesn't.
Spike the Watercooler is a new online community where women are gathering to share their personal and professional successes and failures and to laugh about the humanity of it all. It's a place to find solidarity in Spanx and in the irony of gym culture. It's a moment to remember that at least one person got a prison sentence while building a retail empire out of being the perfect homemaker. It's a place to learn how to choose a health insurance policy without needing a PhD to read the paperwork. It's raw, it's real and it's funny. It will also teach you some useful stuff along the way. It's for mentors, for peers and for women who want the solidarity of knowing they aren't alone. It's to celebrate that perfect is just plain boring (not to mention impossible), so we might as well live boldly.
There is a regular People magazine feature that reminds us "celebrities are real people too" -- where they showcase starlets in mundane acts like a trip to the grocery store or taking their kids to school as if it is a surprising anomaly. We forget that these false "ideals" are actually living, breathing, feeling and insecure people just like everyone else. So, if you want to get real, come join us as we spike the watercooler.
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