5 questions with Kat Kinsman
This profile initially appeared in The Cohort, Poynter's bi-monthly newsletter about women kicking ass in digital media.
Kat Kinsman has the very cool title of senior food and drinks editor at Time Inc.'s all-breakfast site Extra Crispy. She’s also the author of “Hi, Anxiety: Life with a Bad Case of Nerves,” which hit bookstores in November. Last but not least, she appreciates a good French 75. I had the pleasure of working with Kinsman, 44, a few years ago at CNN Digital and fell in love with her writing and willingness to talk about mental health issues. I suspect you’ll fall in love with her, too.
I sent Kinsman a few questions via email and got some wonderful answers in return, including her advice for women: “Screw fear, don’t apologize for who you are, and be unfailingly kind to everyone (that is not the same as ‘nice,’ btw). You will not regret any of these things.” Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Your career has taken a lot of interesting twists and turns. What do you look for in a job, and how do you know when it’s time to move on to something else?
I’ve learned to put a priority on a really emotionally healthy work culture, and I’m lucky enough to have gotten to a place where I can make those sorts of decisions rather than being saddled to a place for the paycheck. It took a certain amount of being miserable to get there, but the quality of my life, my sleep and my well-being is undeniable.
I just finished reading “Hi, Anxiety” and especially loved the ending where you reflected on how rewarding it’s been to write publicly about anxiety. Now that your book is out, what have you learned?
Thank you for reading it! The thing that’s really buoyed me is people telling me that they’ve handed copies to their friends, family and loved ones in an effort to have them gain some understanding of the condition. I knew that people didn’t talk especially openly about having anxiety, for a variety of reasons, but I’m getting a real understanding of just how widespread it is. It’s young, old, wealthy, impoverished, atheist, devout, male, female, trans, straight, QUILTBAG, and of every ethnicity. And the only way we’ll get through is by talking.
How do you practice self-care, and what are some of the benefits you experience?
I’m pretty honest about the fact that I’m not great at self-care, but I’m trying to get better and set boundaries for myself. If I am too exhausted or overwhelmed to go to an event, I send my regrets, stay home with my husband and dogs and try to set a date for one-on-one time with the person(s) later when I am more refreshed. I am trying…trying not to beat myself up if I spend a day where I don’t produce some work or benefit to society, and instead binge-watch TV or have a nap. Inevitably, I get more done the next day.
More often than not, the badass women I talk to tend to struggle with confidence issues. Do you consider yourself a confident person? If so, what’s your secret? If not, how do you compensate?
The most astonishing women — and men — I know are the ones who doubt themselves the most, and that breaks my heart. I am terrified on a regular basis that someone is going to figure out that I’m secretly a fraud and a failure, and just horrible at my job, but I’ve gotten better about talking myself out of that. I also used to be a professional dominatrix named Mistress Cherry, and on occasion, I’ll ask myself what she’d do, draw myself up into her posture, and speak with more confidence. I also know that no matter what, I try to be a kind and compassionate person, and even if I screw up at something, I likely won’t have regrets about how I acted.
Are you a New Year’s resolution type of person? What do you want to focus on or accomplish in 2017?
I tend to make jokey resolutions with a very solid kernel of truth at the center. A few years, it was “Become really fancy” and “Become even fancier” and those led to finding a little more delight in life, and not waiting to celebrate the good things. Our PEOTUS has declared that the inaugural ceremonies will be “very elegant,” so for this year, I would like to embrace — and reinterpret “elegance” as personal grace and artfulness. He can have his gilded fixtures and faux-Baroque trappings. In the face of his crassness, I want people to fall in love with gorgeous, meaningful poems, books, articles, movies, music, theater and images that make them remember the best parts of humanity. It will keep us all tethered.