Mindy Kaling Nailed The One Thing That Can Be So Confusing About Building Confidence

by Georgina Berbari
Craig Barritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Would you consider yourself a genuinely confident person? If you answered no, that's totally OK — confidence is a tricky thing to cultivate, despite tons of "inspirational" quotes and articles that simply tell you to ~find it within yourself~. Mindy Kaling's advice for self-confidence, on the other hand, is much more realistic, and it's not at all about simply waking up and realizing one day that confidence has always existed inside of you. After all, if self-assurance really worked that way, wouldn't we all have mastered it by now?

Listen, if you have a natural, comfortable sense of positive self-esteem, that's amazing. Keep doing you, friend. But, for many of us, mastering self-confidence tends to be more of a life-long journey, and in a recent panel at the Glamour Women of the Year Summit, Kaling refreshingly acknowledged the not-so-simple leg work that can often go into creating a strong sense of self-assurance.

"We tell young women...to be confident, be confident, and to just grasp it out of thin air, and I think that's confusing," Kaling said at the summit, as per CNBC.

Here's the way Kaling seems to see it: People tend to talk about confidence like it's this thing you can just grab and take — but, for her at least, she said at the summit that her self-confidence has come from putting in the work to achieve her goals, and from being proud of that work.

"Because for me I've never had any [innate] confidence," the 39-year-old actress told NBC's Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb at the event. "I've just done the leg work. It often meant that I never came to anything unprepared."

And by "leg work," Kaling went on to say, she means she she did enough research to prepare for different events, meetings, etc. throughout her career, to the point where she "literally couldn't not be confident," she said at the summit. In other words, for Kaling, confidence isn't just something you suddenly notice in yourself one day out of nowhere. Rather, from the actress' perspective, confidence is the culmination of years of hard work and preparation; it's a reward for putting your absolute all into something you want to achieve.

Of course, there are lots of different ways to work on your own relationship with yourself and build a healthy self-esteem, but if you're down with Kaling's words of wisdom, she's noted in past interviews that one of her favorite ways to boost self-confidence and strengthen her mental health as a whole is to simply work out on a regular basis. In an interview with Shape, for instance, Kaling said that exercise, for her, isn't so much a means to an end, but rather something that's just part of taking care of herself, and that makes her feel her best inside and out. "Working out is a way for me to have mental strength," she told the magazine. #Obsessed.

Kaling also told Shape that she's going to try to teach her daughter about these healthy ways to build confidence, "by always making her feel like she is good enough and [by] not being stingy with encouraging comments." Ugh. My heart.

Unfortunately, not everyone supports Kaling's perspective on self-confidence, which she acknowledged during her panel at the Glamour summit — but not without dropping even more wisdom for all of us. The actress said that when she googles herself, people often talk about how "into herself" she seems. "It's not that I'm into myself," Kaling said at the event. "It's that I don't hate myself. In my career, a lot of people have a problem with being around women who don't hate themselves. Never hate yourself."

Amen, Mindy. Say it louder for the people in the back.