Over Thanksgiving break, I had the opportunity to do a lot of reading, and one of the books I read was Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? I love smart and funny women and tear through books like Bossypants and Yes, Please, as well as Kaling’s last book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? These women tell wonderful stories and are funny as hell. But the thing that makes me adore them is that they work hard. They don’t expect things to be handed to them, and through their hard work, they develop incredible bonds with the people around them. That sounds pretty great to me – working hard with people you trust and enjoy. They also sneak in really smart observations in the middle of their witty story-telling. It’s like they’re tricking you into learning!
I was tricked into learning about confidence and entitlement in the last chapter of Kaling’s book. She revisits a question she got at a panel and didn’t feel like she addressed well at the time. A teen-aged woman asked Kaling about confidence and where she found hers. In retrospect, Kaling felt she gave a generic answer about her family and her parents believing in her. And while that was true, she expanded on her ideas about confidence and where it comes from.
Kaling is a hard worker and is proud of it. And because that hard work, she talks about feeling entitled. Not the kind of entitled we’ve come to associate with “kids these days who don’t know the value of hard work.” but the kind of entitlement that comes from being a good person and working your ass off. We are all entitled to basic decencies from the second we’re born, and sometimes that’s harder for women, and women of color, which Kaling also addresses. But past the basic decencies, you have to earn your entitlements. Being entitled is a concept we’ve come to view as wrong, and I think Kaling’s approach is refreshing. Sometimes, it’s okay to feel entitled. And in her words, confidence comes when you “work hard, know your shit, show your shit and then feel entitle.”
And to me, that’s a beautiful concept.