All the ways Mindy Kaling has taught me to be myself without fear

It’s no secret that Mindy Kaling rules. With Emmy nods, a new season of The Mindy Project on Hulu, and a second book, Why Not Me, in stores she’s insanely prolific. Writer, producer, actress, and overall awesome being, Mindy is a force to be reckoned with. Seeing all that she’s accomplished makes me feel all kinds of things but at the top of that list? Hopeful.

Being a curvy girl of ethnic descent in today’s world means there may be more hills to climb to get to the top of my chosen career, but Mindy is the perfect example of living a life that’s distinctly hers, without apology or fear. Her success has inspired me, and it’s made me stop and think: If she can do it, why can’t I? Here are some of the lessons the fabulous Mindy K. has taught me over the years.

Embrace your body

It’s no secret that Mindy has curves but what makes her such a role model is that she embraces them. In a body-image-obsessed world, she’s shown me not only how to love myself no matter my size, but to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. And while she looks fab in whatever she chooses, I’ve realized maybe I’ve let other people’s opinions of me dictate what I should and should not wear. Bodies aren’t meant to be the same and Mindy’s body confidence has proven to me that you don’t have to be a certain size to a) be successful, b) feel beautiful, and c) dominate whatever industry you’re after.

As Mindy so proudly said in a Parade interview, “I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well-meaning, but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?’”

Don’t apologize for being you – ever

I’ve talked in-depth about how awkward I can be. Shirt’s on inside out? Me. Trip over nothing? Me. Say inappropriate things at inappropriate times? Story of my life. But for a long time, I apologized for those things and would often feel out-of-place just for being myself. Mindy’s character on The Mindy Project (coincidentally named Mindy), reminds me that it’s OK to give the world the true version of myself and if they don’t like it, that’s their loss. Neither Mindy the person nor Mindy the character apologize for being who they are. And I shouldn’t either.

If you’re funny, be funny

It’s true that even in all my awkwardness, I have a dry wit that I use to ease anxiety. I can distinctly remember times growing up when I felt the need to dial down my humor or hide it in order to fit in. Instead of being my rad self, I would act more like whoever people wanted me to be. This sometimes meant pretending not to be so funny or holding back on a joke. Since following someone like Mindy, I’ve learned that being funny is a gift and if others don’t get my humor, I’ll spend my time with people who do.

Be a giver

This year, Mindy requested her Twitter  followers tweet which charitable organizations she should give to for her birthday. Talk about generous. Life is full of the unexpected and what I’ve learned is, anything can happen to anyone at any time. We all need help sometimes. When all seems bleak in the world, pull a Mindy and give like boss. It doesn’t take much to make a big difference.

If you want to do it all, you can

Above all, Mindy has proven to me that women can do anything. She’s also refreshingly honest about how much hard work goes into making your dreams come true. As Mindy wrote in a Glamour essay: “I work a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I feel like I must have been watching TV as a kid and that cartoon parable about the industrious ants and the lazy grasshopper came on at a vital moment when my soft little brain was hardening, and the moral of it was imprinted on me. The result of which is that I’m usually hyper-prepared for whatever I set my mind to do, which makes me feel deserving of attention and professional success, when that’s what I’m seeking.”

Whether it’s through quirky characters or essays, Mindy Kaling is the definition of ‘fierce’ and what I’ve learned from her is that maybe I am too.

So for that, thanks Mindy.

Related reading: 

Attention everyone: Mindy Kaling is looking for a new BFF

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[Images via Giphy, Instagram]

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