When I read Mindy Kaling’s first book, Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns), it was the first time since reading The Catcher in the Rye that I felt profoundly understood and connected to a book’s protagonist. Except, in the case of the former, the narrator was a real person and a woman I could look up to. Given that Kaling’s memoir was so flawless, I was apprehensive that her latest collection of essays, Why Not Me?, couldn’t possibly be as phenomenal and would ultimately disappoint me.
Well, I would like to personally apologize to Mindy Kaling for ever doubting her, because Why Not Me? blew me away.
The personal essays tackle everything from Kaling’s body image, her relationship with B.J. Novak, her career, and just the inherent complications of being a woman. While Kaling’s first book reads more like a fluid, chronological story of Kaling’s childhood and subsequent rise to fame, the second strictly focuses on her adulthood and even features a surprising amount of advice. Most of the advice is tongue-in-cheek, as Kaling does so perfectly, but it comes from an honest and authentic place and really resonated with me. Below are some of my favorite tidbits of advice/ revelations from the book:
“The first thing you need to know is that the hair on your head is worthless. The color, the length, the thickness, everything. You will never see anyone on TV sporting their own God-given hair, unless it’s on, like, a sad miniseries about factory workers in East Germany.”
“Asking your friend to be a bridesmaid is one of the modern paradoxes: no one actually wants to do it, but everyone would be offended if you didn’t ask.”
“The problem with joining a sorority was that I was a person who wanted to make friends based on common interests. And our common interests had to be more than simply wanting to make friends.”
“My deep dark secret is that I absolutely do try to conform to normal standards of beauty. I am just not remotely successful at it.”
“Now even my coolest friends are online dating. But not me. I live in fear of my public profile being published online for everyone to see. Especially since I am such a liar. On a dating profile page, I would pretend to be a completely different person. You would see me loving live music and hiking. You basically leave the date thinking I’m an outdoorsy Stevie Nicks.”
“No matter how good you have it, it’s cool to want more.”
“Young women often approach me and excitedly tell me how much they appreciate the way I look. They like that I am not a skinny twig, because it shows that I refuse to change who I am and makes them feel like they don’t have to either. I really love that. But what they don’t know is that I’m a big fat fraud. I’m completely not at peace with how I look. I don’t wake up in the morning, look at my naked body in the mirror, and say, ‘Good morning, body. Once again, you’ve nailed it, you gorgeous imperfect thing. That wobbly patch of cellulite? A miracle. Every stretch mark? A Picasso. Holy crap, I look good! Who can I sext? Somebody else has got to see this.’”
“Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn’t always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine.”
If any of the above quotes spoke to you, made you laugh, or made you feel slightly more normal, go buy Why Not Me?! It’s a super quick read that you won’t be able to put down.