Mindy Kaling’s Commencement Speech Is The Pep Talk You Need Today

Everyone's BFF reminds us of the importance of friendship, unity and fearless badass-ery during these uncertain times, and it is sure restore your faith in humanity.
By Meghan Collie, Flare
Image of Mindy Kaling standing at a podium, in a graduation gown, giving a commencement speech at Dartmouth Photo, Canadian Press.

It feels like the world could devolve into chaos at any moment: Trump picked a fight with his Canadian neighbours just days before the unpredictable president is set to meet with the North Korean dictator/owner of many nuclear weapons Kim Jong Un. If these recent headlines are making you feel tense, I have the tiniest slice of good news: Mindy Kaling just gave a 20-minute pep talk that is sure to turn your day right around.

On June 10, the fierce feminist and new mama delivered an energized commencement address to the fresh-faced grads of Dartmouth College (her alma mater). Standing in front of a podium shaped like a giant tree stump, Kaling dropped 17 minutes worth of knowledge about everything from the importance of buying a plunger (“don’t wait until you need a plunger to buy a plunger”) to dating in the #MeToo era. The speech served as a reminder of the importance of friendship, unity and fearless badass-ery during these uncertain times, and it is sure to make you laugh and/or restore your faith in humanity.


Here, five of our fave moments from Kaling’s commencement speech at Dartmouth.

Her dig at Hollywood and its lack of representation

“Before I get any further, I should actually probably clarify who I am for the parents and grandparents in the audience who are thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this loud Indian woman? Is that the girl from Quantico? She looks so much worse in person.’ No, no, I’m not Priyanka Chopra, not even Padma Lakshmi. I’m the other Indian woman we have allowed to be on television, Mindy Kaling. Thank you, thank you. You may remember me from my role on The Office as Kelly Kapoor, who internet commenters said was — quote — ’shrill’ and — quote — ’took up valuable time that could have gone to Steve Carell.'”

Her warning for dudes dating in the #MeToo era

“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.”

Her message to ladies to be supportive of each other


“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 theatres June 8th. And to that end, women, don’t be ashamed to toot your own horn like I just did.”

Her reminder not to worry if you’re living life in the right order

“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.”

The importance of asking: “Why not me?”

“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.”

Watch Mindy Kaling’s full speech here:


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