DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a first-generation college student, and lately I have been feeling some serious guilt about it. I can’t put my finger on one exact reason that I feel so guilty. I feel bad for leaving my parents. I feel bad that they had to take out loans for me to be in school. I even feel bad that I’m having such a good time in college, knowing that my family is possibly struggling (more than they care to admit) back home. I also feel an immense amount of pressure to push myself to be the best student I can be, or else all of my family's hard work, money and time will have been wasted. How do I let go of my guilt? -- First-Gen Student
DEAR FIRST-GEN STUDENT: You need to adjust your mindset. Do your best to replace guilt with gratitude. You are the first of what your family hopes will be many who will have this same opportunity. Yes, there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders -- and you can handle it.
Start each day with meditation. Sit quietly and remind yourself of your job right now -- to learn and prepare yourself for your future. Anchor yourself in that understanding and go about your day. Study and focus on completing your degree. Make meaningful relationships and stay in touch with your family. Work to balance fun with duty. Remain humble.