5 Lessons I Learned From Mindy Kaling

For those of you who don’t know who Mindy Kaling is, clearly you haven’t watched one of the best TV comedies of all time The Office. She played Kelly Kapoor a narcissistic, unhinged, drama queen that was the customer service representative at Dunder Mifflin. After The Office, she wrote her own show called, The Mindy Project where she plays Mindy Lahiri a fabulous OB/GYN who adores romantic comedies. I guess you could call me a fan considering I have watched every episode of both shows, read both her books, and have watched almost all of her interviews. Not only is Mindy Kaling is one of the very few Indian women in Hollywood but she is a very talented writer who knows how to make people laugh. I’m so happy that she is sharing her knowledge with the rest of the world. Here is some of the valuable lessons from Mindy Kaling that I have learned from reading her books and from her career.

Mindy Kaling Lesson (1 ) You’re Religion and Ethnicity Don’t Define Who You Are

Mindy Kaling is criticized for not addressing her Indian heritage on the show and instead promoting the lifestyle of a white girl.  In an article in Vice, Navi Lamba shares why she is dissapointed in Mindy Kaling.  Navi Lamba says that she, “yearns for models like Kaling, because they are not readily available, which makes it ultra disappointing that she doesn’t recognize her complexity as a non-white, female comedian. Kaling instead completely rejects these aspects of her identity, and chooses to implant visions of white ideals, in an industry that is already saturated with “Alexis Bledel Blue” eyes.

Recently, this problem is addressed on her show when her character Mindy Lahiri tries to learn more about her Indian identity by making some Indian friends.   Her parents tell her that they chose to not to raise her as a Hindu because they are proud to be Americans.  It’s not fair to say that Mindy Kaling isn’t a role model because she isn’t acknowledging her Indian heritage when she was raised in the US and wasn’t taught to speak any Indian languages. When asked how her south asian background influences your character development in the Mindy Project, she answers by saying, “I don’t speak any Indian languages. I’m Hindu but I don’t know much about my religion.”

Being born in Canada I understand what Mindy Kaling is saying. You assimilate to the culture here and you don’t have the same connection to your ethnicity as your parents did.   Although, my parents have taught me about my religion and my ethnicity,  being Canadian is a huge part of who I am. I hate it when people ask me,”What’s your background?”I don’t want to be defined by my ethnicity or religion I want to be defined by my character. Some people make assumptions about who you are based off of stereotypes they’ve heard about about your religion or ethnicity, and I don’t want that.  I want to be defined by my actions and the way I speak to people.  Mindy Kaling addresses this, in an interview with Alicia Menendez saying, “Women, especially young women of colour want to see someone in TV that is not playing a terrorist or someone in IT.” Just because the show isn’t about being Indian, doesn’t mean that being a woman of colour with her own show isn’t an accomplishment.

2) Be Perceptive

In an interview at Bookcon Mindy Kaling says, “As a young person it’s equally important if not more important to be perceptive and to be sensitive.” She shares that listening and paying attention to what others are saying is what made her a good writer. Being expressive is important but taking the time to understand others will help you grow.  My grandmother also has given me the same advice.  She told to be observant of the good qualities of others and learn from them. Learn from other people’s mistakes and make better decisions.

3) True Best Friends Are Hard To Find

Lessons From Mindy Kaling
GIF via Her Campus

In Mindy Kaling’s book, Why Not Me?  she discusses the heartbreak of when a, “Best friend becomes a friend,” and sometimes even strangers.  As individuals we go through many phases in our lives and so do our friendships. There’s moments where you and your best friends are going through the same experiences like first kisses, shopping for prom dresses, and stressing over what universities to apply for. Eventually, “that version of the friendship comes to an end.”

True best friends can be apart for months and feel like no time went by when you finally see each other. A true best friend is a person is someone who tells you when you have boogers in your nose and won’t judge you for making bad decisions.  It is the person who will listen to you rant and will tell you the truth even if it hurts. It takes time to find true best friends but I think they’re worth to wait. As Mindy Kaling says, “It’s hard to find a female friend, but it’s really easy to find a guy to sleep with you. “

4) You Have To Earn Confidence

Lessons From Mindy Kaling
GIF via Her Campus

I’ve spoken about how important confidence is on my blog. Gaining confidence is a process, but it’s an important quality to have. Everyone’s come across someone who radiates so much confidence you wonder where the hell they got it from. You wonder if they actually have anything to be confident of. In Mindy’s words, ” Confidence is just entitlement. Entitlement is the belief that you deserve something. Which is great. The hard part is, you’d better make sure you deserve it. You can’t be confident without hard work and determination.”  You can’t be confident without having some credibility.

She further discusses how people perceive confident women. “Some people feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves.” It’s because people are so used seeing women feeling insecure and having damaged self esteems that when they see a confident woman they think something is seriously wrong with her. Most importantly she gives a reminder, “You aren’t damsels in distress.” As women our insecurities hold us back. That’s why it’s so intimidating to see a confident women because our goal is only to become better instead of falling back to our old selves.

Mindy Kaling Lesson (5) Have The Work Ethic of A Mother

Listening to Mindy Kaling talk about her mom brought me to tears. At the Watermark Conference, Mindy Kaling says that , “My mom was my soulmate and my best friend; it was the single most impactful relationship in my life; and…now that she’s gone, my only hope is to be able to replicate it downward. Now I guess I have to be the mom. I hope that happens. I think it’ll happen!”

I’m not a mom and I don’t know if I will ever become a mom but I do know that there’s nothing like the bond between a mother and her child. I was once asked if, ” You could have dinner with anyone in the world (dead or alive)  who would it be?” My response was my mother. Yes, I eat dinner with her everyday, but I know that one day God forbid she’s no longer on this planet I will regret everyday I don’t have lunch with her.

Mom’s really do have the best work ethic, they never stop to make sure their children live the best life. I wish I had my mom’s work ethic. She puts 100% in everything she does and is the definition of the phrase, “Every day I’m Hustlin.”  I want to have the same determination and grind when it comes to accomplishing my goals.

Feature Image: Via Vulture.com

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5 Lessons I Learned From Mindy Kaling


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