When you’re the focus of unwanted attention – like when there were five of you kids and your mom singles you out to go wash the dishes. You might have asked, “Why me?” As in why did you pick me and not one of my brothers or sisters…
Or when you’re a little older and you get in trouble at work for using the photocopier to copy a textbook for school – you get chewed out by your supervisor – the lecture and threat of disciplinary action – even though the guy who sits next to you regularly copies his face and posts it all around the office. And you ask, “Why me?” As in why didn’t that other guy get caught or get in trouble instead of me?…
In her book, Mindy Kaling is asking a different question: “Why Not Me?” As in if there are opportunities to be had, why shouldn’t I get them. Why not me? If someone is going to be chosen to do something really cool, why shouldn’t I be the one picked? Why not me? Why shouldn’t I work hard to get to the place where I don’t have to wonder why they didn’t pick me because I’ve basically worked hard enough to ensure that they have to pick me. Why not me?
Mindy Kaling is a superstar – and not just because she is an actress. The TV show, The Office (American version) was a hit for several years and her character, Kelly was one of the funniest on screen (off-screen, she also wrote a lot of the episodes and got nominated for a couple of awards) The Office actors became household names for us but Mindy Kaling is the only one who left the show with a new TV show totally about her – not a spinoff so it would seem like she was just picked to carry on the name and essence of the show. No. She got a chance to write and produce and star in her own brand new show, The Mindy Project. And here I use the word chance loosely because there are no chances – there are only opportunities you become qualified for when you do the work and opportunities that you take when you decide to push.
Her book is funny, written completely in her voice so much so that I can hear her saying lines from the book while I read them. Not that I know her, although I’d like to. Throughout the book, she says things like if you ever see me on the street, ask me … This… Or that. I now have a list of talking points if I ever meet Mindy Kaling on the street, although my first question would probably be …
It’s a great read. Pick it up if you have a chance, even if you’re not into celeb-type memoirs. Actually read it especially if you’re not into celebrity memoirs. In fact, the most famous people she talks about are meeting President and Mrs. Obama and even that she talks about in such a funny way that I imagine if I had been there, I might have spent the evening looking at and taking to Mindy instead of Mr. Obama, my role model.
As a matter of fact, the main genre of this book is not so much comedy, although it is Laugh Out Loud funny, you’ll literally LOL – which is such an overused expression because most times I text LOL, I am not really laughing, out loud or inside, but I want to encourage the person on the other end. Anyway, yeah, so Why Not Me is part comedy and part memoir but also mostly inspirational because Mindy talks about not just everything she did and everything she went through to become who she is today but also keeps encouraging you to live your life too, to do the best you can with all the talents you have and get to wherever you are.
In speaking about confidence and entitlement, she gives this advice: “Confidence is like respect; you have to earn it… Work hard, know your stuff, show your stuff and then feel entitled.” To feel like you deserve to be somewhere is to actually know that you worked hard enough to deserve it. When you’ve done the work, nobody can question your right to be where you are.
I was touched by Misty Copeland’s story – yeah she’s the first black principal ballerina but it’s not like someone picked her to be “the face”. She worked HARD to get where she is. I can imagine a 15-year-old Misty, when told she didn’t have the body type to be a ballerina and it would take incredible work with maybe no payoff at the end, saying, “Somebody is going to be a principal ballerina. Why Not Me?
I like Taraji P. Henson’s story – yeah she has the number one show on TV (which I don’t watch but that’s another story) but it’s not like somebody picked her from a picture she uploaded on Instagram and said “Hey, we’re going to give you a hit show.” No, I have footage of Taraji playing a young co-ed in Felicity in 1999. Taraji had been working at her dream for over 15 years before it all came together for her. But she didn’t give up. I can imagine when she auditioned for that first role, her saying, “Somebody’s going to be a famous actor. Why Not Me?”
Mindy. Misty. Taraji. There are countless other stories just like this one. Everyone of them can be an inspiration. You just have to keep sticking it out, keep working at it long enough for your dream to come true.
Dreams don’t often come true overnight. Not the dreams that really matter anyway. Mindy was in Hollywood 10 years before she got her own show. What are you passionate enough about to keep working at it for ten years?
I’m just asking.