In an excerpt from her new book Why Not Me? published by Glamour on Friday, the Mindy Project creator/star gives her advice for being confident – and says feeling entitled isn't always a bad thing.
"People talk about confidence without ever bringing up hard work. That's a mistake," she writes. "I know I sound like some dour older spinster chambermaid on Downton Abbey who has never felt a man's touch and whose heart has turned to stone, but I don't understand how you could have self-confidence if you don't do the work."
Kaling, 36, also recalls getting a trophy for "Coolest Clothes" at a basketball camp in the summer after fourth grade, despite her demonstrable lack of skills on the court. (Yup, she was a total trendsetter even then.)
"I ran home, delighted, and placed it proudly on top of our TV for all to see," she says. "Weeks later, I went to the TV room to find that it was gone. My beautiful trophy! Was it stolen by a gang of criminals jealous of my peach denim shorts from the Limited Too?! Mom told me she had "put it away." I didn't understand. Someone had singled me out for praise and the trophy deserved to be seen. Then my mom said something to me, slowly and carefully, like she always did to make sure I was really listening: 'They gave you that trophy so you wouldn't feel bad, not because you deserved it. You should know the difference.' "
Kaling points out that working too hard is seen as negative for adults , but kids are raised to always do their best.
"I have never, ever, ever, met a high confident person and successful person who is not what a movie would call a 'workaholic.' We can't have it both ways, and children should know it," she writes. "Because confidence is like respect; you have to earn it."
Glamour's September issue hits newsstands Tuesday.