Meghan Markle interviewed writer and actress Mindy Kaling in the latest episode of her Archetypes podcast.
In the episode, titled The Stigma of the Singleton, the women discussed feeling like outsiders and being lonely as children, while dreaming of the perfect “cookie-cutter” life.
They discussed the pressure women feel to find a partner and have children, and the idea that women wait to be “chosen” by a man, and that only then is she “good enough”.
The Duchess of Sussex talked about how, when she became engaged to Prince Harry, people told her she was so lucky that he chose her, while forgetting that she chose him, too.
Meanwhile, Kaling, star of The Office and The Mindy Project, opened up about deciding to raise two children as a single mother.
Read their top quotes from the Archetypes podcast interview below.
“I always wanted this sort of cookie-cutter-looking perfect life”
Markle said: “I think for me, especially, my parents split up when I was around two, three years old. And I always wanted this sort of cookie-cutter-looking perfect life.
“And you looked at that and, you know, there was like a boy in a letterman jacket [baseball jacket] and it just was so, I romanticised that. It’s all part of the things that make you have this idea of what you want your life to be like when you grow up.
“But I always thought, well, I’m way more Betty than Veronica, and am I going to get the guy one day? And I was the smart one, not the pretty one. So all this stuff was wrapped up in reading Archie comic books and just, I think it was aspirational in some ways.”
“I haven’t met the person and I don’t want to rush it”
Kaling said: “With my mom and my dad, like when my mom got sick, it was like they had this strong, strong relationship and bond so that, you know, when things got tough it was like, you know, we’ve had such a great foundation.
“All this, I had a lot of reasons for thinking like, okay, I haven’t met the person and I don’t want to rush it. You probably know the friends… the desperation in your friends when they’re in their late thirties and they’re like, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know.’ And they’re just like, ‘whoever I’m with, I just, that’s the person I want to marry.’ And I didn’t want to do that.”
“I think there’s such a fear about being single”
Markle said: “Most people, especially women, I think are willing to compromise to try to not play into what one of these archetypes will be. I think there’s such a fear about being single. There’s a fear perhaps of not being able to have kids if it’s something that you want.
“And then there’s a greater fear, I would imagine, of what it would be like to find your partner too late and then not be able to have the kids.”
“I probably made all my fortune off being this outsider, but it’s not a good feeling as yourself”
Kaling said: “I grew up a dark-skinned Indian girl, overweight, glasses, in lily-white suburbs of Boston, never thinking I was attractive. And I think a feeling of belonging was if a man deigns to make you their girlfriend.
“And so for me, you can’t shake that stuff, right? You can be into comedy and go to school and, like, learn from smart professors but, like, you can’t shake that if that’s your wound, that you don’t feel attractive unless you have a boyfriend.
She added: “So I went through high school. No boyfriends. Heard about my friends kissing, falling in love, losing their virginity. College. Same. Nothing. Always a spectator. Watching things.
“By the way, I learned a lot from that. I learned how to, you know, so many of my shows right now are about young women and longing and feeling horny and feeling rejected. And I’ve learned a lot from that.
“I would even say I probably made my… all my fortune off of this, off of being this outsider, but it’s not a good feeling as yourself.”
“Everyone was just like, ‘Oh my God, you’re so lucky he chose you’”
Markle explained: “When I started dating my husband, we became engaged and everyone was just like, ‘Oh my God, you’re so lucky he chose you.’
“And, at a certain point, after you hear it a million times over, you’re like, ‘Well, I chose him, too.’”
She added: “But, thankfully, I have a partner who was countering that narrative for me and going, ‘They’ve got it all wrong. I’m the lucky one ’cause you chose me.’ But it’s, it is gendered and it’s archetyped and it’s stereotyped that… you’re so lucky.
“And it just feeds into this idea that you’re waiting for someone to tell you that you’re good enough, as opposed to knowing that you’re good enough on your own.”
“Why am I not the person that got married?”
Kaling said: “The title, [of Kaling’s biography], Why Not Me, means two different things. One is this idea of [being ambitious] in my professional life, like, why not me? Why can’t I go from number 12 on the call list on The Office to being number one in my own show? […]
“And the other is a little bit more vulnerable to talk about, which is the idea, why not me? Like, why am I not the person that got married? You know, and I think it’s harder to talk about. I’m still examining it. It makes me emotional.”
She went on to say: “I have such a great relationship with my dad. We’re so different from each other. But he is just everything to me. And I do know that that would be so valuable for my kids, you know, that they have a dad.
“It wasn’t our lot, you know, our family’s lot in life. And I do think about it with wistfulness and then also fear like, what will they think when they get older about that? And so that’s sort of like, the other meaning of Why Not Me?”
“Were you not the pretty one growing up?”
Kaling asked Markle: “Were you not the pretty one growing up?,” to which Markle replied: “No. Oh God, no.”
Kaling said: “That is news to me,” and Meghan called herself an “ugly duckling”.
Markle went on to say: “Look, maybe not conventional beauty as it is now, maybe that would be seen as beautiful, but massive frizzy curly hair and a huge gap in my teeth… um, I was the smart one. Forever and ever and ever and ever. And then I just sort of grew up.”
Kaling said: “Hey, now I’m going to say this is a revelation to me, because I went through life being like, okay, well, Meghan Markle was like that one nice hot girl who has her head screwed on right cause her mom’s probably like, really cool.
“But knowing that you were not that is news to me, probably news to people listening to this.”
“I was always a little bit of a loner and really shy”
Markle revealed that: “I never had anyone to sit with at lunch. I was always a little bit of a loner and really shy and didn’t know where I fit in. And so I was like, okay, well then I’ll become the president of the Multicultural Club and the president of the sophomore class and the president of the French club.
“And, and by doing that, I had meetings at lunchtime. So I didn’t have to worry about who I would sit with or what I would do because I was always so busy.”
Kaling told her: “Just what you said, that image is so vivid of sitting like… The girl that you described, sitting by herself, being like, how do I fill my day? And it’ll be by trying to be a leader like that is… that makes me very emotional.
“I’m happy that people know that because I think people see you and they’re like, oh, my gosh, like the wedding, the couture fittings for that and this and that. And I think that I certainly didn’t know that about you. And it’s nice to know.”
Kaling then told Markle: “But you do seem so intimidating. Your life is together, like you’re so beautiful. Even in the Oprah thing is like, oh, my God, she has chickens. Like, who has their s**t together enough to raise chickens and kids, like, come on.
“It’s nice to know that you were a lonely kid who didn’t like necessarily being that way.”