Should auld acquaintance be forgot; and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne? Loosely translated, this verse from the famous New Year’s Eve song, “Auld Lang Syne,” simply means “For the sake of old times, let us not forget our old friends.” On the surface and when taken into the heart, the spirit of this verse is honorable. However, as the New Year approaches and the time for new resolutions and commitments draws nearer, it may be advantageous to de-prioritize old friendships that hold one down.
As the New Year approaches individuals from around the world look toward January 1st as a new beginning. They see it as a date which signifies the start of a new life that is ripe with a fresh commitment to goals, dreams and other aspirations. It is a time for a new resolution. Some resolutions are simple, like getting a promotion at work or losing weight. Other aspirations involve a greater commitment to introspection and personal growth. However, anytime someone embarks upon the journey of self-help they are faced with two challenges: personal doubts and the doubts of others. With regards to the latter, t here’s an old saying that “misery loves company.” That is, people who are miserable would rather be around other people who are miserable as opposed to people who are not miserable. In modern times it often means that one’s closest family members and friends will unconsciously seek to sabotage a loved one’s efforts for self-improvement.
There’s something called the “crabs in a barrel” theory. This concept is literally taken from the real life scenario of crabs inside of a barrel. Watch these critters and you’ll see that as one tries to climb out of the barrel, the others instinctively pull it back down. There’s a line from “The Godfather: Part III” when Al Pacino’s character, Michael Corleone, states, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” If the goal is to go back to school in order to get a degree and thus a better job, friends will say it’s impossible. If the dream is to leave the corporate world and explore a more creative profession (i.e. writing, painting, acting, etc) folks will quote startling statistics illustrating how difficult such an endeavor will be.
Everything in the spirit that is good and honorable is also wrought with guilt. Friends guilt other friends into believing that they will be abandoning their loved ones should they attempt to escape the barrel. Family members will look at one’s attempt to escape ghettos, financial ruin, bad relationships, and soul-draining jobs as a selfish act because they aren’t doing it as well. No one wants to be left behind.
So how does one move beyond these inadvertent attempts to keep one stuck in the same rut as the previous year? Put yourself first. It’s perfectly reasonable to love family and friends from afar so that one can pursue and achieve individual goals. Most often it is a matter of self-hate, not malicious intent why the ones we love the most belittle our dreams. If the individual who seeks to better his/her circumstance puts himself (or herself) first it won’t matter what others say or do. The desire to do and be more is borne of the belief that one deserves more. That is self-love. Once self-love is no longer an issue in the heart and mind, success will come from the belief that one is actually capable of doing more.
Many religions and spiritual philosophies adhere to the belief that, “No man is an island.” People are not on this earth to live solitary existences. With this in mind, no one should automatically shun family and friends when in pursuit of a lofty goal. Instead, focus all efforts on nurturing the relationships that are most beneficial to one’s dreams and desires. Even the most unsupportive relationship can add value to life if one learns from the dynamics of that relationship. Acquaintances from long long ago need not be a priority in the New Year if those relationships fall short of what the individual needs emotionally to achieve his/her goals.