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  • (audience applause)

  • - Thank you, Marie.

  • And thank you esteemed members of the faculty,

  • proud parents, devoted friends, squirming siblings,

  • congratulations to all of you.

  • But especially, congratulations to the magnificent

  • Berkeley Class of 2016.

  • (woman screams)

  • (audience applause)

  • It's my privilege to be here at Berkeley,

  • which has produced so many Nobel Prize winners,

  • Turing Award winners, astronauts, members of Congress,

  • Olympic gold medalists, and that's just the women.

  • (audience cheers)

  • Berkeley has always been ahead of the times.

  • As Chancellor Dirks said, in the 1960's,

  • you led the free speech movement.

  • Back then, people used to say with all the hair,

  • "How do we even tell the men from the women?"

  • Today we know the answer. Man buns.

  • (audience laughs)

  • Early on, Berkeley opened its doors

  • to the entire population.

  • When this campus opened in 1873,

  • you had 167 men and 222 women.

  • It took my alma mater another 90 years to give a

  • single degree to a single woman.

  • One of the women who came here in

  • search of opportunity was Roselyn Nuss.

  • Ros grew up scrubbing floors in the

  • Berkling boarding house where she lived.

  • In high school, her parents pulled her

  • out of school to help support the family.

  • And it was a local teacher who talked her parents

  • into putting her back into school.

  • In 1973, she sat where you sit today,

  • and she became a Berkeley graduate.

  • Ros was my grandmother.

  • (audience cheers)

  • She is one of the major sources of inspiration in my life.

  • I was born on her birthday.

  • And I am so grateful to Berkeley

  • for recognizing her potential.

  • And I want to say a special congratulations

  • to the many who today become the first

  • in your families to graduate from college.

  • What a remarkable achievement.

  • (audience cheers)

  • Today is a day of celebration.

  • A day to celebrate all the hard work

  • that got you to this moment.

  • Today is a day of thanks.

  • A day to thank all the people who helped you get here.

  • The people who taught you and nurtured you,

  • cheered you on, and dried your tears.

  • Or at least didn't write on you with a sharpie

  • when you fell asleep at a party.

  • (audience chuckles)

  • Today is a day of reflection

  • because today marks the end of one era of your life

  • and the beginning of something new.

  • A commencement address is meant to be

  • a dance between youth and wisdom.

  • You provide the youth.

  • Someone comes up here to be the voice of wisdom.

  • That's supposed to be me.

  • I tell you all the things I've learned in life,

  • you throw your cap in the air,

  • you let your family take a million photos,

  • and hopefully post them on Instagram,

  • and then we all go home happy.

  • Today's gonna be a bit different.

  • We'll still do the caps

  • and you still have to do the photos,

  • but I'm not gonna tell you today what I learned in life.

  • Today I'm going to try to tell you what I learned in death.

  • I've not spoken about this publicly before, and it's hard,

  • but I promise not to blow my nose

  • on this beautiful Berkeley robes.

  • One year and 13 days ago, I lost my husband, Dave.

  • His death was sudden and unexpected.

  • We were in Mexico celebrating a friends 50th birthday party.

  • I took a nap. He went to workout.

  • What followed was the unthinkable.

  • I walked into a gym to find him lying on the floor.

  • I flew home to tell my children that their father was gone.

  • I watched his casket being lowered into the ground.

  • For many months afterward, and at many times since,

  • I was swallowed in the deep fog of grief,

  • what I think of as the void.

  • An emptiness that fills your heart and your lungs,

  • constricts your ability to think or even to breathe.

  • Dave's death changed me in very profound ways.

  • I learned about the depths of sadness

  • and the brutality of loss.

  • But I also learned that when life sucks you under,

  • you can kick against the bottom,

  • find the surface, and breathe again.

  • (audience applause)

  • I learned that in the face of the void,

  • or in the face of any challenge,

  • you can choose joy and meaning.

  • I'm...

  • (audience cheers)

  • I'm sharing this with you today,

  • in the hopes that on this day in your lives,

  • with all the momentum and the joy,

  • you can learn in life the lessons I only learned in death.

  • Lessons about hope, about strength,

  • and about the light within us that will not be extinguished.

  • (audience applause)

  • Everyone who's made it through Cal

  • has already experienced some disappointment.

  • You wanted an A, but you got a B.

  • Let's be honest, you got an A minus but you're still mad.

  • (sparse laughter)

  • You applied for an internship at Facebook,

  • but you only got one at Google.

  • (audience laughs)

  • She was clearly the love of your life,

  • but then she swiped left.

  • (audience laughs)

  • Game of Thrones, the show, has diverged

  • way too much from the books,

  • and you're mad because you read 4,352 pages.

  • (sparse cheers)

  • You will almost certain face more and deeper adversity.

  • There's loss of opportunity, the job that doesn't work out,

  • the illness or crime which changes everything in an instant.

  • There's loss of dignity.

  • The sharp sting of prejudice when it happens.

  • There's loss of love.

  • The broken relationships that can't be repaired.

  • And sometimes, there's loss of life itself.

  • Many of you have already experienced

  • the kind of tragedy and hardship

  • that leaves an indelible mark.

  • Last year Radhika, winner of the University Medal,

  • spoke so beautifully about the sudden loss of her mother.

  • The question is not if some

  • of these things will happen to you.

  • They will.

  • What I want to talk about today

  • is what you do next.

  • About the things you can do to overcome adversity

  • no matter when it hits you or how it hits.

  • The easy days ahead of you will be easy.

  • It is the hard days, the days that challenge you

  • to your very core, that will determine who you are.

  • You will be defined, not just by what you achieve,

  • but by how you survive.

  • (audience applause)

  • A few weeks after Dave died,

  • I was talking to my friend Phil

  • about a father-son activity Dave would not be here to do.

  • We came in with a plan to fill in for Dave,

  • but I cried to Phil.

  • I said, "I want Dave."

  • Phil put his arm around me and said, "Option A is not

  • available, so let's just kick the shit out of option B."

  • (audience cheers)

  • We all, at some point, live some form of option B.

  • The question is, what do we do next?

  • As a representative of Silicon Valley,

  • I'm pleased to tell you that there's data we can learn from.

  • After spending decades studying how people

  • deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman

  • found that there are three keys,

  • personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence,

  • that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship.

  • The seeds of resilience are planted in the way

  • we process the negative events of our lives.

  • The first P is personalization,

  • the belief that we are at fault.

  • This is different from taking responsibility,

  • which you should always do.

  • This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us,

  • happens because of us.

  • When Dave died, I had a very common reaction,

  • which is to blame myself.

  • He died in seconds from a cardiac arrhythmia.

  • I pored over his medical records asking

  • what I could've or should've done.

  • It wasn't until I learned about the three P's

  • that I accepted that I could not have prevented his death.

  • His doctor's had not diagnosed his coronary artery disease.

  • I was an economics major. How could I?

  • Studies show that getting past personalization

  • can make us stronger.

  • Teachers who have students who fail who believe

  • they can do better, revisit their methods

  • and have future classes that excel.

  • College swimmers who underperform in a race,

  • but believe they can do better, do.

  • Not taking failures personally,

  • allows us to recover, and even to thrive.

  • The second P is pervasiveness,

  • the belief that an event will effect all areas of your life.

  • You know that song Everything is Awesome?

  • This is the flip, Everything is Awful.

  • There's nowhere to hide from the all consuming sadness.

  • The child psychologist that I spoke to encouraged me

  • to get my children back to their routine

  • as quickly as possible.

  • So ten days after Dave died, my kids went back to school

  • and I went back to work.

  • I remember sitting in my first

  • Facebook meeting in a total haze,

  • thinking what is everyone talking about

  • and how could this possibly matter.

  • And then, I got drawn into the conversation

  • and for a second, the briefest of all seconds,

  • I forgot about death.

  • That second helped me see that there were other things

  • in my life that were not awful.

  • My children and I were healthy.

  • My friends and family, some of whom are with me today,

  • were carrying us, quite literally.

  • The loss of a partner often has severe,

  • negative financial consequences, especially for women.

  • So many single mothers and fathers

  • struggle to make ends meet, and don't get

  • the time off they need to care for their families.

  • I had financial security, the ability to

  • take the time off I needed, and not just a job I loved,

  • but one where I was encouraged to spend all day on Facebook.

  • (audience laughs)

  • Gradually, my children started sleeping through the night,

  • crying less, and playing more.

  • The third P is permanence,

  • the belief that the sorrow will last forever.

  • This was the hardest by me for far because for so long

  • it felt like the overwhelming grief would never leave.

  • We often project our current feelings out indefinitely.

  • We're anxious, and then we're anxious that we're anxious.

  • We're sad, and then we're sad that we're sad.

  • Instead, we should accept our feelings

  • but know that they won't last forever.

  • My Rabbi of all people actually told me,

  • and this is a quote, that I should "lean into the suck."

  • Not what I meant when I said, "Lean in."

  • None of you need me to explain the fourth P,

  • which is of course pizza from Cheese Board.

  • (sparse cheers)

  • But I wish I had known about the three P's

  • where I was your age, because there are

  • so many times they would have helped me.

  • Day one of my first job out of college,

  • my new boss figured out that

  • I did not know how to enter data into Lotus 1-2-3.

  • That's a spreadsheet. Ask your parents later.

  • (audience chuckles)

  • His mouth dropped open, and he said in front of everyone,

  • "I can't believe you got this job without knowing that."

  • And then he left the room.

  • I was sure I was getting fired my very first week of work.

  • I thought I was terrible at everything,