Mindy Kaling covered everything from motherhood to the chances of Donald Trump being added to Mt. Rushmore when she delivered the commencement address at her alma mater, Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire Sunday.
The actor and author gave some rock solid tips on pancakes (just order one) and toilet plungers (buy one before you need one), and recalled (very little of) her own commencement — when Madeline Albright spoke.
Here’s a taste of Kaling’s advice for the post-Dartmouth world:
“In general, advice isn’t actually an effective way to change your life. If all it took to make your life great was hearing amazing advice, then everyone who watched TED Talks would be a millionaire.
“So don’t trust any one story of how how to become successful. As Madeline Albright said at my Commencement — see, I don’t remember anything. And I did just fine.”
“I’ll tell you my secret, the one thing that has kept me going through the years, my superpower: delusion.
“This is something I may share with our president, a fact that is both horrifying and interesting. Two years in, I think we can pretty safely say that he’s not getting carved onto Mount Rushmore; but damn if that isn’t a testament to how far you can get just by believing you’re the smartest, most successful person in the world.”
On being a man
“This one is just for guys: When you go on dates, act as if every woman you’re talking to is a reporter for an online publication that you are scared of. One shouldn’t need the threat of public exposure and scorn to treat women well; but if that’s what it’s gonna take, fine. Date like everyone’s watching, because we are.”
On being a woman
“I thought I might take a second to speak to the ladies in the audience. (Guys, take a break; you don’t have to pay attention during this part. Maybe spend the next 30 seconds thinking about all the extra money you’ll make in your life for doing the same job as a woman. Pretty sweet.)
“Hey girls, we need to do a better job of supporting each other. I know that I am guilty of it too. We live in a world where it seems like there’s only room for one of us at the table. So when another woman shows up, we think, ‘Oh my god, she’s going to take the one woman spot! That was supposed to be mine!’
“But that’s just what certain people want us to do! Wouldn’t it be better if we worked together to dismantle a system that makes us feel like there’s limited room for us? Because when women work together, we can accomplish anything. Even stealing the world’s most expensive diamond necklace from the Met Gala, like in Ocean’s 8, a movie starring me, which opens in theaters June 8th. And to that end, women, don’t be ashamed to toot your own horn like I just did.”
“I will tell you a personal story. After my daughter was born in December, I remember bringing her home and being in my house with her for the first time and thinking, ‘Huh. According to movies and TV, this is traditionally the time when my mother and spouse are supposed to be here, sharing this experience with me.’ And I looked around, and I had neither. And for a moment, it was kind of scary. Like, ‘Can I do this by myself?’
“But then, that feeling went away, because the reality is, I’m not doing it by myself. I’m surrounded by family and friends who love and support me. And the joy I feel from being with my daughter Katherine eclipses anything from any crazy checklist.”
“So I just want to tell you guys, don’t be scared if you don’t do things in the right order, or if you don’t do some things at all. I didn’t think I’d have a child before I got married, but hey, it turned out that way, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I didn’t think I’d have dessert before breakfast today, but hey, it turned out that way and I wouldn’t change a thing.
“So if I could impart any advice, it’s this: If you have a checklist, good for you. Structured ambition can sometimes be motivating. But also, feel free to let it go. Yes, my culminating advice from my speech is a song from the Disney animated movie, Frozen.”
“I was not someone who should have the life I have now, and yet I do. I was sitting in the chair you are literally sitting in right now and I just whispered, ‘Why not me?’ And I kept whispering it for seventeen years; and here I am, someone that this school deemed worthy enough to speak to you at your Commencement.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, but especially not yourself. Go conquer the world. Just remember this: Why not you? You made it this far.”