Today I properly start my new job. Actually, that’s not entirely true, as I started it yesterday, but this is the first day when I’ll actually be sitting at my new desk. Effectively I’ll be doing the same thing as I was before, but in a different service and inexplicably at a higher grade.
And do you know what emotion is coursing through my veins? Surely I should be happy to be employed when so many others aren’t; relieved that I can continue to support my family; excited about the new challenges ahead perhaps, or even chuffed that I’m valued by others.
Nope. I feel guilt.
I’ve thought long and hard about this, and the only thing I can liken it to is survivors guilt. This is a condition where the survivors of some horrific incident feel guilty that they made it through whilst others didn’t. They question; why them? What makes them different or special? How easily might it have been someone else? Who else might have been more deserving?
This is an emotion that does no good, and threatens to erode confidence and thereby ability to perform. It’s also something without an easy answer. My head might say that I got my new job because I was the best qualified, that I have suitable experience, that I’ve got new and exciting ideas or that I simply performed better than others in the interview.
My gut questions all of this however. Was it only perhaps because someone better than me was nervous? What about the others who went for it – might they be better deserving than me, or perhaps simply better?
I’m happy to say that most of the people who were able to go for my job – at the start there were seven – either chose not to go for it or had other, slightly lesser paid jobs to fall back on if they weren’t successful. In fact, the only person who had nothing else besides this job (which is the position I was in) was The Architect, and you can guess my feelings as to them.
That being said, I’m leaving behind a team of people who are going to be going through their own restructure soon enough, and who face at best an uncertain future. There is nothing that marks me out as more deserving of employment than them, it might only be that I am safe because I do one type of job and they do another. I survived thanks to falling into a certain type of work and a random decision made by those above me, whilst they didn’t.
Of course, to talk in terms of survival does a disservice to those who have faced real life and death situations and come through them, rather than the life of their careers. At the end of all of this, one way or another we will stumble through and come out a little older and a lot wiser.
In the meantime I will have to live with being an innocent person who feels guilty.