Mindy Kaling Talks Life as a Single Mother at Dartmouth Commencement Speech

Funny lady discusses life as a single mother during college graduation speech in New Hampshire

By Meg Swertlow Jun 11, 2018 2:29 AMTags

Mindy Kaling brought big laughs and big heart to her commencement speech at the Dartmouth 2018 graduation on Sunday. In the hilarious talk, Mindy did something she's rarely done—discussed what it's like to be mother to daughter Katherine Kaling, who was born in December.

The Mindy Project actress gave a 17-minute address, filled with jokes, sweet memories, funny stories and serious bits of wisdom, all for the crowd of students, parents and onlookers in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Following the event, Kaling posted an Instagram photo from the event and wrote, "Thank you @dartmouthcollege, my Alma Mater, for welcoming me back to deliver today’s commencement speech. To say it was an honor is an understatement. Full link to my speech up in my bio! #WhyNotMe #Dartmouth18."

Let's take a look at her powerful and inspiring words, including her "practical" advice to the grads...

Mindy Kaling's Best Quotes Before Motherhood
Jennifer Hauck/The Valley News via AP

Midway through the speech, she began her "practical" list, "1. First off, remove 'Proficient at Word' from your resume. That is ridiculous. You're really scraping the bottom of the barrel of competency there. This is how you become proficient at Word: You open Word on your computer."

The actress continued, "2. Most of your post-college life is simply filling out forms. Car insurance, health insurance, W-2s. W-4s, 1099s. Guess what? None of us know what any of those forms mean, but you will fill out a hundred of them before you die."

"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," she added.

The Ocean's 8 star continued, "4. 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."

And finally, "5. And this might be the most important—buy a toilet plunger. Trust me on this. Don't wait until you need a plunger to buy a plunger."

Of course, the actress did get more serious during her speech, telling a story about what it was like coming home after welcoming her daughter into the world.

"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've covered a lot of ground today, not all of it was serious, but I wanted to leave you with this: 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."

And that's why we love her!

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