The second book I reflect on for this blog is Mindy Kaling’s first memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (2011).
Mindy Kaling is one of my most important role models. Her recently announced pregnancy might be the only celebrity pregnancy that ever truly mattered to me. Her show The Mindy Project inspired the argument –that women’s pleasure is political because it resists the misogyny of our society– I made in my master’s thesis as well as my everyday thinking thinking on gendered behavior, feminism, and accomplishments and how to reach them. Her first memoir, Is Everyone, is about the Mindy that we don’t know and haven’t seen on tv: her girlhood in Massachusetts, her years at Dartmouth University, and the beginnings of her career in NYC until success and fame came. We learn that Mindy was hired at the successful tv comedy The Office as a result of the play Matt and Ben she and her friend from college produced, wrote, and starred in– she created a path for herself. Is Everyone, then, is a book about the making of an unlikely career and about how Mindy overcame insecurities in her personal life. Much of this book is frivolous, some of it indulgence in fantasies that are entertainment and comedy more than social justice work, and even Mindy’s reflections on her weight don’t have the same heaviness as, say, Roxane Gay’s recent memoir Hunger. And yet, Mindy’s charming portrayal as herself as an ambitious, insecure, imperfect woman who is willing to share her private details to become more liked and to inspire other women has never stopped being on my mind as an inspiration of confidence, and as a guide book to trust the process as I try to make a career in a much less glamorous but almost equally combative (it feels like that anyways) industry: academia.