Ah, remember college? Good times (mostly). Mindy Kaling would agree—though her outlook on life has shifted just a bit in the 17 years since she graduated.
After a busy week bouncing from event to event—going full-glam at the premiere of Ocean’s 8; giving an inspiring talk at PopSugar’s Play/Ground expo—Kaling capped it off with a poignant commencement speech at her alma mater, Dartmouth. The actress, who graduated in 2001, spoke to the New Hampshire-based college’s class of 2018, advising new graduates to not get caught up in what they think their future should be.
After revealing her college “checklist,” the 38-year-old Mindy Project star listed her post-grad goals: “Get married by 27; have kids at 30; win an Oscar; be the star of my own TV show; host the MTV Music Awards (it was 2001, guys, it made more sense then), and do it all while being a size 2.”
“Well, spoiler alert,” she continued, “I’ve only done one of those things and I’m not sure I will ever do the others. And that is a really scary feeling—knowing how far I’ve strayed from the person I was hoping to be when I was 21.”
Mindy went on to discuss the birth of her baby daughter, Katherine. “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.”
“The joy that I feel from being with my daughter Katherine eclipses anything from any crazy check list,” she continued. “So I just want to tell you guys, don’t be sacred 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,” she said.
Kaling also touched on the #MeToo movement in her speech, telling male members of the graduating class to “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 going to take, fine. Date like everyone’s watching, because we are.”
If there was an Oscar for Best Commencement speech, Mindy would surely be checking that off her list.