My Future

The Best Life Advice We Learned From Mindy Kaling’s Graduation Speech

Be your own cheerleader.

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Mindy Kaling is by far my favourite person in the world. Not only is she a supremely talented woman — showrunner, writer, actor, author, friend of Oprah — sis knows how to write an excellent graduation speech. Or, “commencement address” if you’re feeling formal.

I’ve been frothing over her advice to the Harvard law grads for a few years now. (In fact, I’ve written about it before.) But thankfully, she returned to her alma mater, Dartmouth College, last week to deliver much more wisdom to us flailing, uncertain graduates.

Our favourite bits are below.

#1 Don’t Listen To Advice

Ironic, yes, but still a pretty great reminder. Mindy says, “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 anyone’s story of how to become successful.”

#2 “Remove ‘Proficient At Word’ From Your Resume”

“That is ridiculous. You’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel of competency there.”

#3 “You Never Need More Than One Pancake”

“Trust me on this. Cartoons have trained us to want a giant stack of those bad boys, but order one first and then just see how you feel later.”

Genius. And so, so true.

#4 Don’t Be An Asshole On Dates

In the wake of #MeToo, Mindy says you should treat your date like they’re a reporter from a publication you’re really scared of. There’s no room to be an asshole anymore. “Date like everyone’s watching. Because we are,” she says.

#5 Be Delusional

This, Mindy says, is her secret to success. “You have to have insane confidence in yourself. Even if it’s not real. You need to be your own cheerleader now, because there isn’t a room full of people waiting with pom-poms saying, ‘You did it!’ So I’m giving you permission to root for yourself. And while you’re at it, root for others around you too.”

#6 You Don’t Need A Checklist

Mindy made a checklist of all the things she wanted to achieve in life. It included things like, “Get married by 25, have a baby by 30, win an Oscar, star in her own TV show, etc”. She says that now, she’s achieved one of those things, and she’s probably not going to achieve the others.

“Don’t be scared if you don’t do things in the right order, or if you don’t do them at all,” she says. “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 film Frozen.”

#7 Ask Yourself, “Why Not Me?”

“Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something, but especially not yourself. Go conquer the world. Just remember this: why not you? You made it this far.”

*wipes away tear* Thanks Mindy. Watch the entire video here: