A self-described "nerd," Kaling explains she was never allowed to be funny in the same way boys were when she was in high school.
"Funny was for boys, for the class clown doing pratfalls or fart jokes who the teachers would reprimand in this laughing, we're-not-really-angry kind of way," Kaling writes. "Everyone acted like it was inappropriate for a girl to be funny, as if I was there to be an audience for the guys, not to be providing comedy myself. It was so unfair! So I did the best I could, tried to get good grades, and was happy being the background character in all the plays. By my senior year, I was so ready to get out of there and go to college."
Luckily for Kaling, things got much better in college, and she's using her experience to encourage other teen girls not to give up in high school because people may not understand their humor.
"At Dartmouth, everything was different. I majored in theater. I took writing classes and joined my improv troupe, where gender and how I looked didn't matter. I finally got to do and express what I was passionate about. The best part? People thought I was funny, and that gave me confidence and made me try more stuff, which made me funnier! I started to realize that high school had made me an expert on how people engage with each other — and those observations would be my recipe for comedy-writing success."
You can read Kaling's whole essay over on Seventeen magazine's website. And if that isn't enough, Kaling's book Why Not Me? was just published, and it's packed with amazing tidbits that encourage young women and minorities never to give up.
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