Ellen DeGeneres is probably one of the most positive people around: She's funny and wise, and always advocates for kindness. So when BuzzFeed UK sat down with Ellen to talk about her new film, Finding Dory, we saw it as the perfect opportunity to get her to answer your life questions. And she came armed with some pretty amazing advice.
1. I’m going to university in September – do you have any advice for me to help overcome my fears and function like a normal 18-year-old? It’s really affecting my ability to socially interact and make friends.
Ellen DeGeneres: Well, be a normal 18-year-old. Don’t try to be 19, but don’t be 17 any more. Be 18, because you’re only 18 once. Don’t try to be older, and don’t fall into peer pressure just because other 18-year-olds are doing something. You do what you want to do, and be yourself – that’s your only job in life, is to be yourself. Why try to be anyone else? You only have this one you, so be yourself.
2. I want to open my own bakery in the future and be a very famous chef; however, my parents want me to be an engineer. What do I do?
ED: Isn’t baking like engineering? Don’t you have to structure things? Your parents are not thinking clearly. Tell them it’s like being an engineer, and also they should let you be what you want to be. It’s not up to them who you are. They had you, they don’t own you.
3. What advice do you have for young people looking to go forth and make a difference in the world?
ED: Oh god, anybody can make a difference, no matter how old you are. Whatever your cause is, just find a way to have your voice be heard. Speak out. There’s plenty of injustices right now. Do nice things, be a good person.
4. I want to go into comedy/the entertainment industry, but I’m not sure if I’m cut out for it because it’s such a huge risk, not to mention a highly male-dominated field. Any words of advice?
ED: Well, forget about the obstacles, because anything that you go into in life is going to have obstacles and risks. It’s boring to just play it safe. So, yes, you’re looking at it realistically, there are obstacles, but don’t worry about that. If you’re talented, talent is always going to win. Don’t let someone tell you you can’t do something. If you really want to do it, anything is possible.
5. What advice would you have for the 20-year-olds who are worried that they might not live up to the expectations they had set for themselves?
ED: I think you should always set high expectations for yourself, and I don’t think you should feel bad if you fall short. It’s better to at least have expectations, so don’t punish yourself even if you do fall short – just know that you’re trying. Look, I’m a great example of failing and getting back up again. So, just...just keep swimming, I say. [laughs]
6. I’m a senior in college and petrified that I’ve actually spent the last three years studying something that I’m not passionate about. I have no idea what to do. Any advice?
ED: I think you’re like anybody else in the world, and I think anybody who goes to college will study something that they’re not really going to follow, which is why I’m against college. [laughs] I’m kidding! Look, I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I was, like, 23 years old, so you can discover what your passion is and what you want to do – and, whatever you study, you may find that at some point it does come in handy. Especially if it’s baking and you want to be a baker.
7. I’m so looking forward to coming out of the closet but so far people have been pretty unaccepting. I don’t think any of my other friends or family will take it well. How do I come out if I won’t have any support afterwards?
ED: Oh, you can always find support. Even if they don’t support you initially, they will come around. Even if it’s not immediately, time has a way of moving forward, and even though this moment seems scary, you just have to support yourself. That’s all you ever have anyway. And you can always go find support, find someone, find a group of friends. Because if they don’t support you, they’re not your friends. If they don’t take you for who you are, and support you for being you, then they’re not the right friends.
8. As I watch you be an advocate for kindness, I try so hard to instil this in my daughters. But the world is a tough place and getting increasingly terrifying. How do I keep kindness in my children’s heart as they watch the world lose it?
ED: Well, don’t let them see all that horrible stuff. I mean, you can’t shield them from everything, but I agree with you, and I can’t imagine having children right now, because the world is a terrifying place. But that’s why it’s more important for them to be filled with kindness. Show them...my show. [laughs] We have people on my show that are examples of paying kindness forward and doing it all the time. Go to EllenTube – really, I’m not just plugging my stuff, EllenTube has so many good examples of people that do good things, and we have a “Good News Only” page where you can see only good things that are happening. We really are at a tipping point, where we have to have more good in the world than bad, so try to highlight people that are doing good things so your children see that there are other choices.
9. I’m going to be going to high school this coming school year, and I’m not really a popular girl. Is popularity really that important as everyone makes it out to be? Is there any other advice you can give me about the life-changing event of going to high school?
ED: I hated school. I changed schools every year and a half, so I was always the new person. I didn’t know anyone, and in every school I went to, people had all gone through all the grades together, so I was always the outsider. Clearly popularity is not that important, because I was not popular. School was a very bad experience for me. I know it’s isolating, I know it feels tough, but it’s a blip. You look back at school now, and that’s not what real life is, and the people that are usually popular in high school – if you ever go back to a high school reunion years later, they’re the losers. I think being an outsider really does build character. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, being a part of a giant group where everybody’s all the same.
10. I just moved to a new city a month ago, the weekend after I finished college. I really like where I'm at, but I'm having a hard time meeting people outside of work. I moved up here not knowing anybody and I don't have a roommate. Any tips on getting out there and meeting new people?
– Emily Blalock, Facebook
ED: I am not the person to ask – I never get out to meet anybody. I’m really bad at that. If you have a hobby, that’s where you’re going to meet like-minded people, but it’s tough. I think it’s really tough, and the older you get the harder it is to make new friends.
11. My girlfriend and I are in a long-distance relationship. We’re in the middle of organising moving but it’s incredibly hard being apart from her because she is my home. What would Dory do to make waiting to go home a little bit easier?
– Laura Snaith, Facebook
ED: Well, know that at least you found someone. At least you have love. I don’t know how you do that, because I wouldn’t be able to do that. At least you’re making plans, and things are going to happen. Just know that you at least have love. That’s the good news.
12. How do I become successful, Ellen? Do I shackle myself into a regular career that only promises mild success but security, or do I follow my passions down a road of struggles that could end in freedom and great success?
– Veronica Barczak, Facebook
ED: Is that the baker again? [laughs] I say always follow your passion, no matter what, because even if it’s not the same financial success, it’ll lead you to the money that’ll make you the happiest. A lot of money with the wrong career is not going to make you happy. If you have money without happiness, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s all about happiness.
13. You are probably one of the most delightful people ever to grace this little blue rock, so my question is, how do you stay so happy and hopeful? With so much hate and death, the current sometimes gets really hard to "keep swimming" through.
– Sam-Elliot Griffiths, Facebook
ED: I have sadness in me, I have anger in me, I have heartbreak in me. I have all of the things everybody has who’s watching the news right now. It’s terrible. But what’s the alternative? You have to try to be that beacon of light, and I think that’s what we all have to do right now. I think everybody should have the same anger towards the injustice that’s happening, and the hatred that’s happening, and just fight it with love and compassion.