9 great pieces of advice from Mindy Kaling's hilarious Dartmouth commencement speech.
You probably know Mindy Kaling from her work on shows like "The Mindy Project" and "The Office."
On June 10, she delivered the commencement address at Dartmouth College, where she graduated in 2001. Speaking from behind a giant tree stump like, as she said, "some sort of female Lorax with an advanced degree," Kaling dropped truth bombs about life, living, goals, and dreams.
The entire speech — which you can read here — is chock-full of advice for people of any age or background.
Here are nine of the best moments.
1. Speeches like this probably won't single-handedly change your life.
It'd be great if the key to success were as simple as listening to a few wise words from a successful stranger, but it takes drive and effort to actually create the change you want:
"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."
2. Treat your romantic partners with respect.
This one should be obvious, but apparently some people need reminding.
This point seemed like a nod at the babe.net article, "I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life." While Kaling, who is friends with Ansari, never publicly spoke out about the accusations leveled against him, this seems like a pretty clear reference:
"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."
3. Sometimes not knowing your limitations can be a good thing.
Sometimes the only thing standing in the way of success is ourselves:
"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.
My point is, you have to have insane confidence in yourself, even if it's not real."
4. Others don't need to fail in order for you to succeed.
There doesn't need to be a loser in order for a winner to exist. We can all succeed at once, so let's take care of each another:
"I'm giving you permission to root for yourself. And while you're at it, root for those around you too. It took me a long time to realize that success isn't a zero-sum game."
5. The world wants women to fight each other.
At the annual United State of Women conference in May, Michelle Obama talked about the importance of women fighting for more than just one seat at the negotiating table in life: "I think so many of us have gotten ourselves at the table, but we're still too grateful to be at the table to really shake it up."
Kaling touched on that same theme in her speech:
"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!"
6. There's nothing wrong with a little self-promotion.
Kaling made a great point about women being afraid to brag a bit by working in references to her latest movie:
"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."
7. Your goals may change as you go through life, and that's OK.
Kaling lists the goals she had for herself as she entered college, noting that just 1 of the 6 came true. Still, she's not disappointed:
"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."
8. Find what works for you and let go of what doesn't.
Her example centers around the idea of checklists, but it could be applied to pretty much anything:
"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.'"
9. There are a lot of people who'll try to stand in your way. Don't become one of them.
Life's hard enough without putting up additional obstacles to your own success:
"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 17 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."