How many times have you heard or been told to not forget where you came from? Have you ever uttered those words to someone else? Maybe you feel pressure to “Keep it Real” now that you have reached a level of success that has placed you in a totally different socioeconomic position and thus separated from your old peers. The one thing that I must emphasize is to not feel in any way guilty about your success. You have earned it on your own merit and you should be very proud of it. I realize that it can be difficult to watch as your friends and family remain to struggle in a lifestyle that you have managed to rise above. There may be an urge to take the cliche of “not forgetting where you came from” and making some very poor decisions.
If you are a person who has, through hard work, luck, or divine intervention, risen above your circumstances to make for yourself a better life, your life has indeed changed. The same rules no longer apply in your new life that used to work in your old one. So, you must cleverly adjust to those new changes. This does not mean becoming a totally different person, but what you must to is make some major adjustments. It is very similar to losing weight. Your old clothes are now too big. Does it make sense to keep wearing them?
I have all too often seen individuals so desperately wanting to be accepted by their less fortunate friends and family members try to force themselves into an environment or situation that should no longer be a part of their lives. Rather than being called a snob or traitor to their past lifestyle, they choose place themselves in places they no longer belong. This is when I believe “keeping it real” goes wrong. Your past is part of you, but if you have created a new and better life for yourself, you have also created a new reality. This new reality is what you need to immerse yourself in. Be an example to your old peers, but do not allow them to make you feel guilty about your success. These feelings of guilt may cause you to make choices that are not beneficial to you and may cause you to lose all that you’ve gained. Remain selective about the company you keep even if it means losing a few friends. Those who really love and respect you will understand.
Last year my son’s swimming instructor gave him a valuable swimming tip for helping someone who is drowning in the pool. He told him to lie down on the edge of the pool and reach for the person’s hand, because if you get into the pool with that person, they may drown you as well. In life, we must not allow those to pull us off into the deep end with them. Instead, we must keep our bodies firmly on dry land so that we may help them without sacrificing ourselves.
― C. JoyBell C.