Why Sheryl Sandberg's Powerful Graduation Speech is also Meant for Career-Break Women

  • Neha
  • in
  • Working Women
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  • 22 May 2016

"...I...learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, find the surface, and breathe again."

Sheryl Sandberg's titanic graduation speech for the outgoing class of UC Berkeley, California swelled with raw emotion for the priceless lessons that she learned in death - the death of her husband, the love of her life - one year and 13 days later, which she shared as her interpretation of the "dance between youth and wisdom", setting the tone for her communique.

We listened to her speech that was meant for a graduating class of 20-somethings, and with every sentence, we heard concrete, heartfelt, action plans for women who are trying to restart their careers. The key takeaways from it were the 3 P's that made headlines across the globe last week:

1) Personalization - Not everything that happens to us, happens because of us.

"Not taking failures personally, helps us to recover and even to thrive." When you've received more than one, or two, or three rejections to your job applications, or you've not heard back from companies after sending out a few applications - don't lose heart. The right job is out there, and the day it happens to you, you will realize that the wait was worth every minute, because life has a plan for us all and why live a life that's just ok, when it could be the best ride at the carnival?

2) Pervasiveness - The belief that an event will affect all areas of your life.

"That second helped me see that there were other things in my life that were not awful." This is something that we definitely struggle with when we're on a break in our careers and are not yet able to restart or we're thinking about restarting and don't think that it's possible. I know that I especially struggled with the first few months of first baby, after having been a woman completely in control of my life, its momentum, its routine, and my decisions pertaining to them all. A baby throws all that out the window pretty quick. And I remember one evening, as dusk was fading and twilight was setting in, looking at my rocking chair and wondering, in horror, if this was what the rest of my life was going to be - an endless rotation of service that I wasn't at all excited about doing. Needless to say, that passed, I found control again - obviously, a modified version, I love my baby, and I managed to get back to work after a long break. One event can affect your life in however many ways YOU want it to, and you choose to let it. Think positive, surround yourself with positive thinking people - find your happiness.

3) Permanence - The belief that the sorrow will last forever.

"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, and know that they won't last forever." This is something that most women actually struggle with every day, and even worse, feel guilty about struggling with it. Our feelings make us human; they define our humanity, our character, and our sensitivity - all traits that contribute to making the world a better place to live. Embrace those feelings, lean into them with all your heart and give them the time and space that they need to purge your body and mind of the negativity that has settled there. When they've had their season in your life, let them go and find your path back to your goals and dreams - the ones you've always had.


And for your week's inspiration, here are 7  of the choicest bon mots from Sheryl's powerful speech that will galvanize your job-hunt with JobsForHer for each day ahead. We think you'll agree!

1. can learn in life the lessons I only learned in death. Lessons of hope, and of strength, and of the light within us that will not be extinguished.

2. 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.

3. I was sure I was getting fired my very first week of work. I thought I was terrible at everything. But really, I was just terrible at spreadsheets!

4. ...If you can recognize that you're falling into these traps, you can correct. Because, just as our bodies have a physiological immune system, our brains have a psychological immune system, and there are things you can do to help kick it into gear.

5. Finding gratitude and appreciation is the key to resilience. People who take the time to list the things they're grateful for are healthier and happier.

6. ...Before I go to bed, [I] write down 3 moments of joy. And this really simple practice has changed my life. Because, no matter what happens each day, I go to bed thinking of something cheerful.

7. It is the greatest irony of my life that losing my husband made me find deeper gratitude.

Look forward into this week with hope for the career you want to reclaim, and gratitude for the life you've been privileged to lead up to this point, whether it is with a husband who loves you, friends who are there for you, children who look up to you, or elders who lean on you.

Each of us has something to be thankful for and something to be hopeful for - let JobsForHer be your companion in your journey of hope. Start, restart or rise in your career through us in a company that recognizes your potential and talent!

Olive Gourmet BazaarCurrently the Content Developer at JobsForHer, Schonali Rebello is a full-time mom to an athletic and bubbly 2-and-a-half-year-old, and has worked in a smorgasbord of jobs – from executive-assistant to a tech-CEO to fundraising for the classical performing arts, from bartending in Toronto to conceptualizing events at a supper-club in Bangalore, from heading communications at a family-owned group of agricultural and real-estate companies to handling Nespresso events with coffee planters in Coorg. After all of this she is finally living her dream as a Creative Writing & Women's Studies graduate, writing articles, blog-posts and reviews on women's issues in the Indian workplace.

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