Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

four out of five dragons
four out of five dragons

Why Not Me? is an entertaining read that stuck in my memory for a few reasons. Most were positive and one was … semi-negative. Overall I enjoyed Kaling’s writing voice more than I enjoyed watching her on The office because I obviously got more of who she is rather than the annoying but funny character she played.

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I’ll start with the negative to get the judgment out of the way and so you all can leave angry comments early on. I didn’t like the way she handled a relationship. If you want to know more you’ll have to read the spoiler section.

**Spoiler**

I didn’t like the way she ended things in her relationship with the secret service guy. I mean she said he was sending mixed signals, but based only on the way she described it, it seemed more like he had been distant then realized he wanted something more and told her that and she responded by not talking to him for a few months. If a person didn’t talk to me for a few months I would assume we were completely done and had no chance, but that may be because I never had to enter the dating world after high school so things may be different after that age. After that they still met up on occasion, but nothing really came of it. Obviously this is not the whole story and what is in the book may not be the whole story either, but it still felt like she brushed him off more when he admitted he had made a mistake by not taking things further than she did when he was just being closed off.

Also she said this, “if someone really wants to see you, they always find a way. Always.” Which I absolutely agree with. However, this goes both ways and it didn’t seem like she made that great an effort to see him either. Mainly she passively waited for him to visit her or invite her to some really swanky event.

** end of spoiler**

Either way it is totally her business how she handles her relationships, but she did include it in her book so I’m allowed to state my opinion in a polite way.

 Now for the positive sections.

Kaling is what many would call body-positive, but she gave a more nuanced view of what that means to her and I think this quote really nails how many of us feel.


“I want to say one last thing, and it’s important. Though I am a generally happy person who feels comfortable in my skin, I do beat myself up because I am influenced by a societal pressure to be thin. All the time. I feel it the same way anybody who picks up a magazine and sees Keira Knightley’s elegantly bony shoulder blades poking out of a backless dress does. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my shoulder blades once. Honestly, I’m dubious that any part of my body could be so sharp and firm as to be described as a “blade.” I feel it when I wake up in the morning and try on every single pair of my jeans and everything looks bad and I just want to go back to sleep. But my secret is: even though I wish I could be thin, and that I could have the ease of lifestyle that I associate with being thin, I don’t wish for it with all of my heart. Because my heart is reserved for way more important things [bold added].” 

I loved Kaling’s view on workaholics. Mindy Kaling writes about the way we, generally Americans, tend to view work as an awful chore that gets in the way of life rather than a fulfilling aspect of a well-rounded life. She mentions numerous times where she has been called a workaholic simply because she enjoys and actively works at her job. I think all too often we are told that working is basically the devil. It makes people groan when they talk about going to work even when they like where they work. My views toward this are similar to my views toward marriage. We are told it is a necessary but not usually good thing that everyone does and it is natural to groan about it and talk about “if I didn’t have to work I’d…” Kaling inspired me in some ways to start this blog. If it matters to you then you should work hard at it.

“People talk about confidence without ever bringing up hard work. That’s a mistake. I know I sound like some dour older spinster on Downton Abbey who has never felt a man’s touch and whose heart has turned to stone, but I don’t understand how you could have self-confidence if you don’t do the work… I have never, ever, ever, met a high confident person and successful person who is not what a movie would call a ‘workaholic.’ Because confidence is like respect; you have to earn it.” 

Kaling also had a refreshing view about confidence and the ways we try to bring it out in girls and young women.

“I get worried that telling girls how difficult it is to be confident implies a tacit expectation that girls won’t be able to do it. [emphasis original].”

This is a thought that I’ve also had and was glad to find it voiced so clearly by someone else. It wasn’t until I realized that I am completely responsible for my own life (not at fault for every negative, but responsible for how I react to every negative and positive) that I realized I could do some pretty cool stuff. I started a blog, I’m learning to draw, and I’m teaching myself archery. Sometimes all you need is a little push, and that push can come from your own brain.

I’d recommend Why Not Me for people who enjoy funny memoirs, getting to know the people behind the characters they watch, and who would like some good advice mixed in with the humor.

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