Emmy-nominated actress, bestselling author, and TV funny woman Mindy Kaling gave a heartfelt commencement speech at her alma mater, Dartmouth College, this past weekend.
Mindy’s speech included lighthearted life advice such as “buy a toilet plunger” and “remove ‘Proficient at Word’ from your resume." But she took a more serious tone as she touched on a personal and newly-penned page from her life story: motherhood.
What does Mindy want us to know? For starters, you can never plan or predict life, at least not fully.
Mindy recalled she created a list of perfectly-timed goals when she graduated. These included, “get married by 27, have kids at 30, win an Oscar, be the star of my own TV show, host the MTV Music Awards (this was 2001, guys; it made more sense then), and do it all while being a size 2.”
The Ocean’s 8 actress revealed how not living up to that checklist inspired fear.
“Well, spoiler alert: I’ve only done one of those things, and I’m not sure I will ever do the others," she said. "And that is a really scary feeling. Knowing how far that I’ve strayed from the person that I was hoping to be when I was 21.”
Motherhood has not gone according to her plan either, she confessed, but her take on single motherhood is truly uplifting:
“I will tell you a personal story,” she began. “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?’”
Mindy’s mother, whom she was very close with, passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2012. She has not shared the identity of her daughter’s father.
“But then, that feeling went away, because the reality is, I’m not doing it by myself,” she said. “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.”
Mindy encouraged the graduates not to be “scared” if they “don’t do things in the right order.”
“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,” she said. “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.”
Mindy's right: There is no right order. There is only your life. Live it, checklist be damned.