[Review]: Why Not Me? - Mindy Kaling
I am a fan of Mindy Kaling. I started watching The Office after getting hooked on season one of The Mindy Project – and I still believe that the premiere episode of the show was one of the best TV episodes I have ever seen.
As Mindy Lahiri, she says all the crazy stuff I sometimes wish I could, and I spend a lot of time thinking “wow, I’m so glad she wrote this” and “she has her own entire show – that’s so cool!” And, because when I go into fangirl mode I really commit, I bought, read and loved her first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). I had all the same concerns, and I loved Mindy even more. I even forgave The Mindy Project for slipping up during that awkward season three “is this thing really going to last, or are we in way over our heads?” phase.
I introduced people I knew to the show and followed Mindy on Twitter. (And I hate following celebrities on Twitter because you can never be sure that the tweets are real, but Mindy’s are the genuine article.) When she started to write her new book, and she posted about it on Instagram, I became irrationally excited. I put it on my Loot wishlist as soon as the release date was announced, and when I finally got it for my birthday, I was beside myself. I finished it in five days, which is a long time considering that I could have gone through it in one day if I had been given a chance. (Don’t you hate it when life gets in the way of reading?)
I really enjoyed it. She thinks a lot of the same thoughts that I do, which is a little creepy and which she inadvertently addresses when she talks about meeting someone who is “so smart and cool that all their tastes and opinions seem like the correct ones” in the chapter about her mentor, Greg Daniels.
What I like the most about the book was the confidence that comes across in the essays: Mindy writes with a self-awareness and responsibility – for her ideas, for the work that she creates, for the role of reluctant role model that she takes on – which is admirable. Why Not Me? is not a boring advice book for thirtysomethings – it’s more like a curated collection of the funniest, most dramatic, interesting and inspirational entries from the Diary of Mindy Kaling.
The essays are deeply personal, without being self-indulgent. This is most likely because Mindy Kaling is not one of those celebrities whose life’s details are constantly on display for the public to scrutinise and pick apart; because she is still low key in many ways, the book still feels like a special inside look into her life.
There is one quote that really stayed with me: “I’m the kind of person who actually likes feeling a little bit out of place. Aspirational is how I feel comfortable.” This made me think differently about the feeling of being “out of my depth”, and about how I could use that experience to achieve my own goals. Mindy suggests that if you feel like you constantly have to reach higher to get to the same level as those around you, you’re in the right place. This is related to the other important concept that she explores: working hard to earn rewards and achieve success. It sounds simple, but in reality it requires a special mix of discipline and self-awareness. I’ll be thinking about both these concepts for quite some time.
This book was a delight. I loved the cover (a simple, standard “celebrity essay collection” cover, but with a dress, a ring, and a great blue door that raise it to the next level for me), the illustrations on the inside cover, and even the acknowledgements page (I teared up while reading it).
I won’t say that Mindy and I could be friends, but she could be the young aunt who brings cautionary tales as gifts, and is always well-dressed. We would stay up all night talking, and my life would change a little.