Magazine article Black Enterprise

Survivor's Guilt? Being Successful and a Good Friend Are Not Mutually Exclusive. Don't Let Success Ruin Your Relationships

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Survivor's Guilt? Being Successful and a Good Friend Are Not Mutually Exclusive. Don't Let Success Ruin Your Relationships

Article excerpt

BRITTANY MILLER SEEMS TO HAVE IT all: a well-paying job as a finance specialist with a leading communications company (complete with a promotion and two raises this year), a brand new condo in Washington, D.C., and enough time and money with which to jaunt around the country. (Her favorite trip of 2009? Celebrating her cousin's birthday in Las Vegas.) While the 24-year-old go-getter enjoys both her career and her free time, Miller admits she can't help carrying a bit of guilt along for the ride.

After seeing some hundred people laid off from her department, seven of her close friends search for work, and her own sister pink-slipped last year, Miller is feeling more than a little bad about her success. "I feel guilty for not being able to share what they're going through," she admits. "It's disheartening to tell my big sister, 'If you want to come home for the holidays, I can put the money in your account.' And I feel bad doing things when I can't invite certain friends because I know they can't afford to go."

Success can even breed resentment in others. For example, Miller's first raise of the year nearly ended some of her relationships. "I sent an announcement to my e-mail group when I got a raise, and one girl asked me not to share when some members didn't have jobs. She said I was being 'too boastful.'" Hurt and confused, Miller retreated from the group altogether and kept further successes to herself.

Surprisingly, Miller isn't the only one feeling a twinge of guilt. A recent study from Leadership IQ, a research company in Atlanta, polled more than 4,000 people who have kept their jobs after corporate cutbacks and found that 62% of them feel guilty, anxious, and angry following company layoffs. "When you are affluent while so many are not, you might feel guilty that you're not suffering the way everyone else is," says Alduan Tartt, a psychologist in Decatur, Georgia. …

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