Life lessons from Mindy Kaling

What I learned reading Why Not Me?


1. Finding a mentor: When you see someone you respect, doing something you aspire to do, stalk them, and force them to be your mentor.
She pretty much went there, but stepped back. Here’s the thing – mentors aren’t going to seek you out. You can have to seek them out. How can you spot them? They inspire and encourage you, they provide you with opportunities. Ask for their guidance, their story, and offer up something in return. How can they benefit from your experiences? There are plenty of other books that can get you more help with this, but her emphasis on what this meant to her, and how she found her mentor, and what is has meant for her career is a helpful story. And worth the read. Also her mentor shares his story. Two comedy writers take on something important, in a comedic way. 

2. People are going to judge to you. Let it roll off and keep smiling.
I pulled this from a couple of different chapters. There is an ideal of what women, in Hollywood, or anywhere really, should look like. You know how you get to that ideal? You do thing like chew your food and spit it back out. (Who remembers that episode of Sex and the City?) Mindy Kaling does not subscribe to this. There is a story in the book of doing an interview at a restaurant, and the interviewer questions her order, and the fact that she is actually going to eat said order. When did we land in this strange, unnatural place? Eat folks – food is amazing, and keeps you going.

After a lunch with Reece Witherspoon, Kaling shares how Witherspoon told her to keep smiling all the way to her car as they left the restaurant. Why? Because no one wants to see a celebrity not smiling. No one really wants to see that, and who know what people take away from it.

While people will judge, you have a built in defense mechanism – and as long as you keep smiling. And be yourself.

3. Role model Mindy
So this was an interesting section. Kaling talks about how she rather accidentally became role model. Yep, she’s not white, she’s kind of nerdy, and she just doesn’t look or sound like most of what comes out of Hollywood. And its about time. Why shouldn’t she be successful? Why shouldn’t she have some of her dreams come true?

In the book she tells a story of young Indian girl asking her at an event what was most helpful to her when she was young to push her on to this point. She gave a crappy, canned answer and felt bad about it. Her answer was bad, but it certainly wasn’t what the girl was looking for. Her answer in the book is so much better. I think there are a lot more people in the spotlight who have the opportunity to tell young people it’s okay be nerdy or geeky. It’s okay to feel like you don’t have it all figured out. For young women, there is so much more to pull them back down. Including our own instincts. Enter lesson 4.

4. The hustle is real.
If you really want something. And I mean really want it, the only way it will happen is if you take the initiative and the time to make it happen. Mostly done in photos, one chapter is “A day in the life of Mindy Kaling”. I was tired just reading the captions. If you want to feel lazy, or need a kick to just start a dream business, endeavor, project, whatever – read that chapter if nothing else. This woman works for every last piece of success she has. I got this from Yes, Please too. These women have gone after their dreams like I don’t think I’ve gone after anything. It’s pretty inspiring. Just think, you could do that too. Cause why not you?

5. Losing a friend can be worse than losing a boyfriend.
The universal truth that women need other women friends, but women are horrible to each other. So it inevitably happens that friendships end, sometimes abruptly, and we don’t always know why. Kaling’s story is something most of us have probably experienced, but she is able to express the feelings we don’t like talking about. Because who are we supposed to talk about them with? Our real friends we saw less while out with these new friends that have suddenly flown back out of our lives? Nope. We’re not going to do that. So it sucks even more. At least when men leave, your friends are there to tell you yes, he did suck right from the start.

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