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If you're a fan of actress Mindy Kaling, you might be overwhelmed by her seemingly vast amounts of confidence. After all, Kaling was the first Indian-American woman ever to star in a network TV series (The Mindy Project), a show she also created, by the way. Her resume is limitless, but it wasn't until her 2018 Dartmouth Commencement Speech that I learned Kaling was not always as confident as she seems. It took some time for her to develop and harness what she calls a "magical quality" to reach the success she has today. I highly recommend you watch her speech in full, but here are a few key takeaways.
You Can't Just "Fake It Until You Make It"
You may often hear that you should fake it until you make it, which more or less means pretending you know what you're doing until things work out. According to Kaling, this approach won't work. You have to earn it. Kaling believes that to have confidence, it must come from a place of actually believing you have that confidence. For example, say you want a job so badly, but instead of thinking you're worthy of that job, or have what it takes, you consistently state that you won't get it. That's not having a genuine belief that you are worthy of what you deserve. Yes, there's a fine line between being cocky and a realist, but Kaling reaffirms that you have to know that you are worthy of what you're striving for, not just pretending to be.
You Have To Work For It
Some people are naturally confident in themselves, but for the majority of us, gaining confidence comes from working diligently. Kaling equates confidence to entitlement, which is often seen as a bad trait, particularly in the workplace. For Kaling, though, entitlement is the belief that you get what you deserve.
If you think you're always going to struggle, will always hate your current existence, and will never grow in your career, then that's who you will be. But if you trust that you deserve what you work hard for, then it will happen. Kaling firmly believes that the only way to get what you deserve is by working your butt off. According to Kaling, you can't feel entitled to something if you don't believe and work hard for what you want out of life.
For Kaling, she realized this as a child.
"I work a lot," she said. "Like, a lot a lot. I feel like I must have been watching TV as a kid and that cartoon parable about the industrious ants and the lazy grasshopper came on at a vital moment when my soft little brain was hardening, and the moral of it was imprinted on me. The result of which is that I'm usually hyper-prepared for whatever I set my mind to do, which makes me feel deserving of attention and professional success when that's what I'm seeking."
Don't Take Everyone's Opinion
This may seem like one of the wildest pieces of advice Kaling could give, but you should wholeheartedly assess whose guidance you trust. In the mindfulness community, it is strongly stressed to be careful of who you share your energy with. This may seem like mumbo jumbo, but think about how you feel around certain people. Your best friends may make you feel happy, secure, and confident in everything that you do. That one pesky second cousin or negative boss may always make you feel worthless, cause you to question your path, or even doubt your capabilities. It's important to find a mentor on your career path and always listen to constructive criticism, but don't let anyone ever make you feel like a victim.
At the end of the day, though, it comes down to how much faith you put in yourself.
"You have to have insane confidence in yourself even if it's not real." Kaling said. "I'm giving you permission to root for yourself and while you're at it root for those around you, too."