'Survivor guilt'

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sarahrose
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'Survivor guilt'

Post by sarahrose » Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:44 am

Hello everyone :)

I was lucky enough to be offered a place on a course this year and I am so excited to start.

The only thing is, I have started to experience what I can only describe as 'survivor guilt'. I know a few people who applied this year who were very strong candidates and didnt get a place. I have also read so many posts about people who have applied 4, 5, 6 times, and are still waiting to be given a chance.

This was my first time applying, and I graduated 3 years ago. I have been working as an Ap for a year now. Now I've been offered a place, I almost feel fraudulent, like I havent applied 4 or 5 times, and I dont have 4 years experience in an ap post. Whilst I feel confident that I am ready for the course, I feel guilty about my place when I know so many other brilliant candidates also applied. I almost feel like I need to have struggled for longer to be worthy!

I suppose its probably a combination of feeling so incredibly lucky, but also my growing awareness of how competitive the process really is.

Has anyone else experienced this/ have any comments on this?

Sarah

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rabbit
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by rabbit » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:07 am

Hi Sarah,

Yes! Completely feel the same :) I also graduated 2011, have only been an AP for a year and this was my first application. I have described it as surivvor guilt too.

I'm not sure what else I can add, except to asure you that you're not alone. I spoke to people I work with and friends and family, and everyone was understanding and reassuring.

I wonder if people experience a similar/opposite reaction if they get on after numerous attempts? Does anyone have experience regarding that?

It's a tough process, and highlights a lot of powerful emotions in us all. But don't worry, I'm sure we'll soon be so busy we won't have time to think of being guilty! :P

rabbit
The time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men. (Leonardo da Vinci)

sarahrose
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by sarahrose » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:25 am

rabbit wrote:Hi Sarah,

Yes! Completely feel the same :) I also graduated 2011, have only been an AP for a year and this was my first application. I have described it as surivvor guilt too.

I'm not sure what else I can add, except to asure you that you're not alone. I spoke to people I work with and friends and family, and everyone was understanding and reassuring.

I wonder if people experience a similar/opposite reaction if they get on after numerous attempts? Does anyone have experience regarding that?

It's a tough process, and highlights a lot of powerful emotions in us all. But don't worry, I'm sure we'll soon be so busy we won't have time to think of being guilty! :P

rabbit
Thanks Rabbit, its reassuring to know others feel the same. A trainee I work with said she's in her second year and she still feels guilty sometimes, but after a while you realise you earnt your place just as much as anyone else.

I agree about powerful emotions being brought up - even the term 'survivor guilt' demonstrates just how hard the process can be. The term survivor guilt is usually used in a context of surviving a war or natural disaster, and refers to a person perceiving themselves to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not. I'm not saying that the process is anything like these disasters, I'm just pointing out that the fact that even using this term demonstrates the strength of emotions that are felt by everyone who goes through this process.

It would be interesting to get a perspective from someone who has applied many times and had a long road to get on th course.

Sarah

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BenJMan
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by BenJMan » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:07 pm

I suppose I can only give two short (and probably blunt pieces of advice):

1. It is a very normal feeling to have

2. Get over it ;) You performed well enough throughout the process to get a place, others did not, no matter how deserving they may be. You will have enough stress to come on the course without doubting the validity of your place :) (Impostor syndrome is a big issue for TCP's)


Good luck :)
I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people ~ Maya Angelou.

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Geishawife
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by Geishawife » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:23 pm

Agree with everything BenJMan says, but also want to add that imposter syndrome doesn't ever really go away!! Even after you've qualified you'll probably still get days where you worry about "being found out", and that feeling is at it's height when you start taking on trainees!! So don't beat yourself up about having such feelings - welcome to the wonderful world of CP!!

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Spatch
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by Spatch » Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:47 pm

Intresting idea about survivors guilt. I think many have wondered the whole "Why me?" and it probably does link with the whole "Imposter Syndrome" issue raised elsewhere.

However, I would also say you cannot ever really know how other 'worthy' candidates do during application season, or how they come across in interview. Similarly, there are candiates who look like they tick all the boxes, but don't really put across the softer skills such reflective ability, and less tangible factors. Clearly, while there are more suitable candidates than places, just because someone else is 'worthy' doesn't mean that the people on the course aren't in any way.

Similarly, there isn't a correlation of worthiness with how much someone has struggled to get onto a course or if they have taken longer. Looking at the stats here and on the clearing house, the vast majority will be applicants who have only made 1 or 2 attempts, and most will have a moderate amount of experience. None of this is to denigrate the efforts of the long timers, but its more about showing that those on courses have fought hard and won on their own terms. It's not like you have been particularly advantages in any way - we all had to play the same game after all.

The other part of the guilt may come from fears about what happens to those that don't make it. In my (admittedly limited)investigations of what Plan B's go onto to do, many are able to make the transition to a variety of fulfilling roles both within and outside healthcare. I haven't come across any former APs who are reduced to homelessness or oblivion, but have gone onto make good medics, managers, OTs, researchers, Psychologists of the non-clinical variety etc.
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Loula
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by Loula » Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:44 pm

I think it's definitely a common things. I've also noticed the impact getting on training has on pre-training friendships that I think contributes to this where friends with initially similar aspirations drift apart when one gets on training. Part of this I think is just the circumstances around possibly not working together, having different priorities etc, but I also think part of it is applicants who aren't successful getting on finding it quite hard to be around those who have, and also those who have feeling guilty about it. Interestingly I noticed a couple of my friendships that fell into this pattern improved when the initially unsuccessful person got on training a year or 2 later.

I also think survivor guilt continues throughout the course, particular when you work with APs who are applying for the course. I know trainees who've discussed feeling very stressed at points in training and wanting to 'warn' APs away from it, but also feeling really ungrateful.

It is only a job. A job that you met the person spec for. You should definitely feel worthy. And don't worry, the course will continue to test your worthiness for the next 3 years just to be sure...

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rabbit
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by rabbit » Tue Jul 22, 2014 6:04 pm

Loula wrote:I think it's definitely a common things. I've also noticed the impact getting on training has on pre-training friendships that I think contributes to this where friends with initially similar aspirations drift apart when one gets on training. Part of this I think is just the circumstances around possibly not working together, having different priorities etc, but I also think part of it is applicants who aren't successful getting on finding it quite hard to be around those who have, and also those who have feeling guilty about it. Interestingly I noticed a couple of my friendships that fell into this pattern improved when the initially unsuccessful person got on training a year or 2 later.
This is really interesting Loula. I have also noticed this deteriation in friendships, but prior to getting offered a place. This has been with people who I did my undergrad with, and while I continued down the masters, AP, doctorate applications we all considered, the others have taken differnt paths. And we have lost our connection. It gives me hope that you have noticed an improvement in those friendships, perhaps mine will also improve when my old uni friends feel more stable and certain about their careers.
The time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men. (Leonardo da Vinci)

Megzi
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by Megzi » Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:03 pm

Loula wrote:I think it's definitely a common things. I've also noticed the impact getting on training has on pre-training friendships that I think contributes to this where friends with initially similar aspirations drift apart when one gets on training. Part of this I think is just the circumstances around possibly not working together, having different priorities etc, but I also think part of it is applicants who aren't successful getting on finding it quite hard to be around those who have, and also those who have feeling guilty about it. Interestingly I noticed a couple of my friendships that fell into this pattern improved when the initially unsuccessful person got on training a year or 2 later.
I was literally speaking about this form of guilt today - I graduated in 2012 and have luckily gotten a place this year so have been feeling like an imposter since my initial reaction to the good news died down. Unfortunately I have also noticed this trend among friends (a few minority!) and have been feeling quite down about it. I'm dealing with it by accepting that this is just part-and-parcel of life and unlikely to be the last time I experience such a situation. There is also a self-belief that my status as an ethnic minority played a part in my selection, which was probably precipitated and perpetuated by positive discriminative comments such as "you're XXX and good, they would have been silly not to accept you". This has contributed to me constantly trying to prove myself, which I am not particularly keen on :(

sarahrose
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by sarahrose » Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:10 pm

Megzi wrote:
Loula wrote:I think it's definitely a common things. I've also noticed the impact getting on training has on pre-training friendships that I think contributes to this where friends with initially similar aspirations drift apart when one gets on training. Part of this I think is just the circumstances around possibly not working together, having different priorities etc, but I also think part of it is applicants who aren't successful getting on finding it quite hard to be around those who have, and also those who have feeling guilty about it. Interestingly I noticed a couple of my friendships that fell into this pattern improved when the initially unsuccessful person got on training a year or 2 later.
I was literally speaking about this form of guilt today - I graduated in 2012 and have luckily gotten a place this year so have been feeling like an imposter since my initial reaction to the good news died down. Unfortunately I have also noticed this trend among friends (a few minority!) and have been feeling quite down about it. I'm dealing with it by accepting that this is just part-and-parcel of life and unlikely to be the last time I experience such a situation. There is also a self-belief that my status as an ethnic minority played a part in my selection, which was probably precipitated and perpetuated by positive discriminative comments such as "you're XXX and good, they would have been silly not to accept you". This has contributed to me constantly trying to prove myself, which I am not particularly keen on :(
I have also experience shift in the friendship dynamics - in both friends who want to persue psychology and in friends who are not persuing psychology. It's really a great position to be in, having a guaranteed job with decent pay for 3 years - not many people have that, times are tough and a lot of people are struggling to find any job at all.

It is difficult when some of your friends are disappointed because they didn't get on the course, or even just disappointed that they haven't found their career yet, and have a lot of uncertainty regarding their future. It's hard to share the happiness you have with friends who are disappointed, because you feel like you are 'rubbing it in'. I tend to tone it down or even not talk about it at all, and only express my true feelings to those who have nothing to do with whole clinpsy process.

Contrary to trying to prove myself, I don't want to go into it with people who didn't get on, because I feel like I am telling them what i have that they are lacking.

Wychelm
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by Wychelm » Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:12 pm

Interesting! I guess the whole process is robust enough so that only people with really good potential get a place

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BenJMan
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by BenJMan » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:40 pm

Wychelm wrote:Interesting! I guess the whole process is robust enough so that only people with really good potential get a place
Hardly ;)
I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people ~ Maya Angelou.

Wychelm
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by Wychelm » Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:58 pm

BenJMan wrote:
Wychelm wrote:Interesting! I guess the whole process is robust enough so that only people with really good potential get a place
Hardly ;)
Yikes! D: sounds like nursing then :/

stormy331
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by stormy331 » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:19 pm

Just to add from the other side. I applied this year and didn't get a place. It was supposed to be a practice year and I was surprised to get an interview, but it very quickly stops becoming a practice year when you think you have a chance!!!

Anyway, I have friends who got on this year... and whilst I understand that there's the 'survivors guilt', I only felt happy for my friends and colleagues and found it quite upsetting when they refused to talk about it around me for feelings of guilt. I understand why they did, but I very bluntly said as soon as they got places that I was happy for them and didn't want my unsuccessful application to tarnish their happiness. Yet, even after months, I find they quickly change the subject or just comment on how sorry they are, and how I deserve a place. You know what, I do deserve a place and will get there eventually, but this year wasn't my year. No big deal, another year to enjoy my freedom! So I also feel it's affected my friendships but not because I'm not happy for them, but because they won't let me share their happiness/success.

So try not to let anything stop you from enjoying your success- and you can be of great help to your friends next year with their application/interviews!!

I also don't think it's entirely unique to CP training. My father spent 23 years as a pilot waiting for someone to tell him it was all a mistake and he shouldn't of got on to training!!!

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BlueBird
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Re: 'Survivor guilt'

Post by BlueBird » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:51 pm

That's an interesting point from Stormy. I can imagine that 'survivors' find it difficult to gauge how to act around people who haven't been successful, as I'm sure they don't want to 'rub it in' so to speak. I can imagine this being a difficult dynamic for both parties, but I think the best thing to do would be to follow the lead of the unsuccessful person. If they seem happy and keen to ask you about it then I think it could be a little bit patronising to change the topic or obviously down-play your excitement. Tough situation either way!

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