Mindy Kaling has gotten me through the past three weeks

There are a lot of rules after you break up with someone.

#1. Don’t talk about it.

#2. Pretend everything is fine.

#3. Keep your grief to yourself.

I’ve broken each of those rules. And not because I have a desire to air my dirty laundry, but because writing is my outlet, and fuck, the past few weeks have been something awful.

I’ve stayed up until 2 AM drinking wine and crying.

I’ve called friends needing to talk.

I’ve listened to Madonna’s “Take A Bow,” on repeat and watched movies like The First Wives Club and Under The Tuscan Sun.

One night, I even fell asleep next to a canister of whipped cream.

Because break ups suck. Not only do you lose your significant other, you lose all the potential that goes along with it. Your future plans, your shared home, the secure path of probably getting married and starting a family are gone. You’re back to square one and it’s scary.

In the past, I’ve always dealt with break ups by picking up a new skill or getting a new job. In college, I got a job at Victoria’s Secret because I was pretty sure a recent ex had cheated on me, and I wanted to find my self-confidence again. Working at Victoria’s Secret was about the most intimidating and outrageous thing I could think of.

And after two years of working there, I felt pretty good. Not because I got a discount on dope bras, but because I got to talk to women every day about their bodies. I helped other women feel good about themselves. That was really fulfilling for me.

When another fling ended, I got my bird tattoo. Another break up was the start of my travel writing. Another helped me meet new friends.

This one honestly, has been pretty difficult and I’ve found myself not wanting to do much at all. I don’t want to radically transform my life, I don’t want to go out on dates or journal, I don’t want to learn a new language or learn a new instrument. I want to roll up into a little ball and cry.

Ideally, with a can of whipped cream within reach.

But I had to do something to distract myself from it all, and the thing I chose was binge watching The Mindy Project.

Mindy Kaling as Dr. Mindy Lahiri, via NYU Local

For the record, I’ve seen the show before now. But I was never enthralled with it. I found Kaling’s on-screen Mindy, for the lack of a better word, annoying. Her character and I have very little in common. She’s obsessed with reality television and junk food (whipped cream is my only vice). I hate all things Kardashian and consider an indulgent snack a few stuffed grape leaves from Whole Foods.

Kaling wears bright colors. My signature color is well, black.

But I watched it anyway.

And the more I watched it, the more I started to appreciate her character.

She’s outspoken about her body issues.

She’s a career woman that wants a significant other, but also cares deeply about her career.

She wants to help women.

She wants to help her friends.

She cycles through partners quickly, she always returns to herself.

via Time

And the thing that probably resonated with me the most was how self-deprecating she is. She’s frequently the butt of the joke, constantly making a fool of herself. And this is perhaps, the trait that always turned me off. Because deep down, I’m terribly afraid of being the butt of the joke. I don’t want to make a fool of myself.

Growing up, I had a terrible stutter and was painfully shy. It took me a long time to figure out how makeup works, what kind of outfits are deemed attractive, and how to talk to boys. I was picked on a lot. I was never popular or outgoing, and had serious confidence issues.

Since, I’ve worked hard to be strong, confident, intimidating. So I don’t like being vulnerable. I don’t like losing control. When you’re not in control, you get hurt, right?

via YouTube

Unfortunately, going through a break up is a crash course in being vulnerable. You can’t help but pick yourself a part. Everything is out of your control. The faster you embrace the discomfort, the easier it all is.

And watching Kaling’s character make fart jokes, pig out on pizza and ice cream, and lust after members of One Direction with absolutely no shame has actually helped. Watching her date guy after guy who eventually left her because he felt she was too much or not enough has been cathartic.

Because after every split, she kept going. She wallowed, but she kept going. She embarrassed herself, but she kept going. The romantic interest always changed, but she never did. And there’s something really powerful about that.

So maybe I don’t need a new hobby. Maybe change isn’t where I’ll find my solace.

I still have the same dreams and goals.

I’m still the same person.

And although it’s taking longer than I’d ideally want, someday, I’ll get it right.

In the meantime, I can stop worrying about what everyone else thinks, what my ex thinks, what my family thinks, and just be shameless. Cry if I need to, take care of my heart, and move forward.

Ideally, with a can of whipped cream within reach.

Melissa Randall is a nonfiction writer and essayist. Her stories on Medium often discuss travel, film, and personal life experiences.

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