If you're looking for permission to go act with yourself in mind, do something you know you need to do for yourself, stop right here. Let me offer you that permission. Whether it be end a friendship/relationship that is truly negative for your mental health, or drop that class that is not particularly worth your time, your personal well-being needs to be the first focus. You deserve to live free from external pressures, and even though it might be hard, it'll be worth it.

College is the first time most people live entirely independent and away from home. It's understandably hard to build grounds for yourself that reflect your own true and personal interests.  The people you meet, the places you go, and the things you do define you. While the perception others have of you take root in your definitions, these definitions aren't permanent.  You should feel free to expand and grow as a human being because that's partially what college is for.  You are allowed to change friend groups - you're allowed to not even be in a friend group.  

So, here's some advice for the learning college student:

1. Don't let your friend's problems and responsibilities become your own.  Know your own limits and don't spread yourself too thin. You are a singular human being, you don't need the weight of anyone else holding you back from achieving your goals. 

2. Be a person of both head and heart.  Have your head control your empathy, have your heart remind your head to take a breather every now and again (because you do indeed deserve one). 

3. You are in this place where so many new things exist, even if everything feels old.  So explore, and don't let people in your life hold you back.  Living for yourself will expand your repertoire, and your self-esteem and personality traits will thank you. Don't be afraid to break out of your comfort zone and do something new.

The people in your life should add lightness, spirit, and excitement, not stress.  You are not anyone's parent, and the time you have for yourself should not be stripped of its priority.  People that make you feel guilty for spending time on yourself don't have your best interest at heart. It's not selfish to step away from a person that weighs too heavy on your life. You are not any less without that person.

In greater contexts, thinking of yourself will teach you strength and independence, and understanding yourself as an individual will give you a level of power that makes you unbreakable.

You're not alone in this battle between doing what is right for yourself and what you feel like you should do.  But with every passing internal debate, remind yourself it's okay to do things for yourself - it doesn't make you any less of a great person, it makes you human and it will keep you whole.

If you find yourself struggling on this journey to become yourself, independent of anyone else's opinions,

Georgia Tech offers many resources, such as the Counseling Center, mentor-mentee programs, and a series of workshops.  You are never alone at tech, as the community fosters a support system where vocality is encouraged.  Students and faculty are actively working towards a happier Tech free of stigma, so don't feel ashamed to take these steps to help and advance yourself.  You're worth a happier and healthier today and tomorrow.