I get asked pretty frequently if I know I look like Zooey Deschanel. Yes, I do know. People tell me I look like Zooey even when I don’t have bangs, so when we have similar haircuts, it happens all the time. The weird thing isn’t just that I look like Zooey; it’s that we (apparently) have a lot in common. I like driving a Vespa and wearing vintage dresses and painting little artsy things on my fingernails, too. The parallels between me and Zooey are so spooky that my sister is convinced that one of my friends is writing her show.
But even though I like Zooey very much, she’s not my pop culture soulmate — that sparkly soapbox belongs to Mindy Kaling, writer and star of The Mindy Show. When I read Mindy Kaling’s first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, I fell in virtual love (I mean, non-creepy, non-stalkery love … basically). I laughed out loud more in that book than any other. It was the kind of book that I’d look up from every so often just to find someone else in the room so I could be all, “She feels exactly like me! This exact thing happened to me!” (They would, unfailingly, look at me like I was nuts.) I really, really like New Girl, but I love The Mindy Project.
Mindy’s character in The Mindy Project isn’t somebody’s Girl Friday — she has a career of her own, and she’s unapologetic about being herself. Mindy Kaling is very smart and very funny, and she speaks up for what she believes in. She’s a powerful girl boss and a formidable writer, and we also have similar feelings about Frisbee.
Today, The Mindy Show begins its new season (it’s been on my calendar for months) on Hulu this time instead of on Fox. (I’ll never forgive Fox for canceling the show, but let’s not pretend they actually care about that. I pretty much always watched it on Hulu anyway, but still.) Mindy (I can call her by her first name, right? We’re friends, right?*) also has a new book, Why Not Me, coming out today, and you’d better believe I pre-ordered that bad boy so it loaded on my Kobo at midnight.
I’m declaring today Mindy Kaling Day — because I’m excited, because I like holidays, and because I think celebrating people who say things you love to hear is something worthwhile. What does it mean to celebrate Mindy Kaling Day? You don’t forget that being serious and having fun aren’t mutually exclusive. You stand up for what’s important, but not in a domineering or preachy way. You refuse to be ashamed of who you are, even if other people think it’s different or weird. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt if you listen to some music you’re a bit embarrassed to own, wear something sparkly, and eat some junk food without beating yourself up about it.
Is my totally-made-up holiday silly? Sure. But I think we could all stand to get more cheerleader-y about the things in our lives that are worth supporting. So to start, here are a few quotes from Mindy’s first book that make total sense to me:
On loving romantic comedies while understanding they have no relationship to real life …
“I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world.”
On career advice …
“…write your own part. It is the only way I’ve gotten anywhere. It is much harder work, but sometimes you have to take destiny into your own hands. It forces you to think about what your strengths really are, and once you find them, you can showcase them, and no one can stop you.”
On relationships …
“That’s the one nice thing about being a dork about men: you can sometimes play it off as restrained and classy.”
On being a nerdy kid …
“I just want ambitious teenagers to know it is totally fine to be quiet, observant kids. Besides being a delight to your parents, you will find you have plenty of time later to catch up.”
On the insults that really hurt …
“Being called fat is not like being called stupid or unfunny, which is the worst thing you could ever say to me.”
Carrie Rollwagen is author of The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local and Reclaim the American Dream, creator of 30 Days of Local Praise and co-founder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @crollwagen.
* I know we are not actually friends