How Mindy Kaling basically took everything terrible about high school and used it to become a success

It’s no secret that we’re huge Mindy Kaling fans — after all, she’s not only a TV trailblazer but also a warm, smart, and totally relatable human being. So when we learned that she’d written a piece for Seventeen about her high school experiences, we dove right in and lo and behold, she’s got plenty of advice for teens going through high school and thinking: What am I doing?

Covering everything from popularity contests to feeling unfunny, Kaling’s essay pinpoints the anxiety that makes up many high school students’ lives, but equally important is how she explains how those experiences helped her become the show-running ladyboss she is now. We broke down some of her big takeaways and how they’ve translated into her adult life success.

Everybody has high school crushes that don’t work out, but that doesn’t mean their personal lives are doomed or meaningless.

As Kaling puts it, “I was pretty nerdy in high school. I never had a boyfriend or anything, but I had plenty of crushes. They were private and exciting and gave me a way to connect with handsome, popular guys without ever needing to talk to them.” It’s hard to imagine the endlessly charming Kaling being starstruck but teenage boys, but hey, we’ve all been there. And instead of pinning all her hopes and dreams on random guys, adult Kaling’s written about and channeled her romcom idealism into her writing, like this amazing New Yorker piece on the genre and of course, that $7.5 million book deal with longtime friend B.J. Novak.

If people don’t recognize your talent and value, stick with your passion and get another crew.

Though we’re sure they’re kicking themselves now, there were plenty of adults who didn’t recognize Kaling’s acting talent in high school and instead “cast the same popular, pretty people over and over” as Kaling “played a hobo or a homeless woman for, like, nine consecutive productions,” leading her to believe that she didn’t have the talent/looks/popularity to make it in drama. Of course, this is totally untrue; Kaling kept up with her acting and improv in college, and the rest is award-winning history.

Speaking of improv, high schoolers aren’t the litmus test for being funny, especially being a funny girl.

Beyond high school crushes, Kaling’s experiences on the high school sidelines even applied to comedy. Young Kaling was chastised for her forays into humor: “When I said something I thought was witty in class, that didn’t go over well, either. Funny was for boys, for the class clown doing pratfalls or fart jokes who the teachers would reprimand in this laughing, we’re-not-really-angry kind of way. Everyone acted like it was inappropriate for a girl to be funny, as if I was there to be an audience for the guys, not to be providing comedy myself.” This is, of course, ridiculous, but given how people still have trouble believing girls and women can be funny, not all that surprising. Again, Kaling found her out in college, where she blossomed into the charismatic, on point comedy performer she is now.

Suffice it to say, Kaling’s turned her high school lemons into adult life lemonade. You can read the whole article here, and catch more wisdom in her new book Why Not Me? when it drops on September 29.

We talked to Mindy Kaling about all of her feels, her new book and the best friend tier

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(Image via.)

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