What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?
When I was 18 years old, I took a semester off from college and was an intern at Late Night With Conan O’Brien. It was the most glamorous job I ever had, and I idolized the writers there. I remember lying in bed every night telling myself that if I ever got a job as a comedy writer, I would be so happy and all my dreams would have come true. Six years later I got that job, working on The Office. I felt incredibly happy and grateful for a about a week, and then a whole new set of complaints set in. This would’ve shocked and disgusted my 18-year-old self. It’s helpful to remember the younger version of me because it reminds me to feel grateful when I want to be snotty. (Mindy Kaling, x)
Let’s backtrack for a second.
Whether your passion is writing novels or book reviews or screenplays … it’s all creative work. It’s all work that thousands – millions – of other people pursue and work hard toward and all serve as your potential next source of burning jealousy.
That’s why Mindy Kaling’s quote from her interview with Gretchen Rubin is so important. “It’s helpful to remember the younger version of me because it reminds me to feel grateful…”
Think about it. Wherever you’re at now, whether it’s after your first published novel or after your first time hitting the bestseller list or after your first finished manuscript or even after your first novel outline – it’s more than you had a few years ago.
At the risk of quoting Miley Cyrus – there is always going to be another mountain (I’m always going to want to make it moveeeeee … okay. that’s enough). There’s always going to be someone out there in their writing career who’s farther/”more accomplished” than you. If you hit the USA Today bestseller list, you’ll see someone hitting the NY Times bestseller list and think, “I wish I had that.” If you release your first published novel, you’ll see someone’s else novel staying #1 on Amazon bestsellers list for weeks on end and you’ll think, “I wish I had that.”
Not that envy is a no-good-terribly-rotten thing. It can serve as motivation to continue working and eventually reach your goal. But you can always be grateful for where you are now – no matter where that may be. Remember to appreciate whatever your writing progress is at this point!
Mindy Kaling answered the interview quoted above in 2011. She didn’t know yet that her show launched in 2012, The Mindy Project, would become a hit and she didn’t know yet that it would be picked up for a second season, then a third season. She didn’t know the show would have over 300,000 fans on Facebook. But she did know to be grateful.
Rock on, Mindy Kaling. Keep serving as a writinspiration (still a word!).