Survivor vs Victim

You probably have met those people who absolutely amaze you with the things they have overcome in their life. The survivors who have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps – maybe even more than once. They seem to have Herculean strength and power. You have probably also met those people who seem to have kick me on their backs, are always struggling with something, or can’t seem to get over things. The victims who may or may not bring it upon themselves.

Now I’m not saying that people who have troubles in their lives are bringing it upon themselves. Or that those who can’t seem to handle things are weak or bad people. Heck, I get hit over and over with things and often struggle to deal with them. What I am talking about is the mental attitude about it. Being a survivor rather than a victim, to me, is about mind set.


There are those who spend their whole lives blaming others for their issues – their parents, the system, the government, their kids, their co-workers, their boss. And while it is true that all of those things can impact lives. The way your parents raised you helps form who you are. Having to work a job with a crappy boss can mean you don’t get the raise or the promotion. There are people who seem to get all the breaks and those who never seem to get ahead. I have also seen kids come from absolutely crappy homes and become great, strong people. I have also seen 40 year olds still blaming their parents for their lot in life.

So what makes someone a survivor instead of a victim? What gives them the strength to stand up, take responsibility for their lives and captain their own ship? I think that there is also an in between. Not every survivor is always strong and not every victim is helpless. I think everyone can struggle with coping with the hardships that life has for them. The strong can cry and the weak can be brave. So what makes the difference? What makes one person give up and another keep trying? I really wish I knew.

I work with kids every day who have lives that are completely not their fault. They are abused and neglected kids. And they aren’t easy kids to work with. They have entitlement issues, anger issues, self-esteem issues. They are angry, violent, don’t trust, and many other issues. They are survivors for the most part. Life has made them that way. But being a survivor isn’t simply living. It’s learning to have a good life. They may be able to survive the abuse – but will they be able to give and receive love. They may get good jobs – but will they ever be happy with what they have. They may get a college degree – but will they learn to be at peace.

To me, there is so much more to it than just being a survivor. To me it is learning to be happy. It’s learning to be calm. It’s not just fighting the good fight, but enjoying the victory. I hope in some small way we can help these kids learn how to not only survive, but be happy as well.

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