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Lots of kids are depressed this week. Yep—it's back-to-school time again. It seems as though the summer has run only half of its blistering course. Yet, as the sun rises on another school year, I've been rather pensive myself.

As I watch college students prepare to leave home for the first time, a certain resentment washes over me. As I observe these young adults shop for their dorms and relish the excitement of their new adventure, I feel as though I'm drowning in an undertow of self-reproach.

I never allowed myself the opportunity to embark on such an adventure as leaving home and going to college and living “the college life.” I never knew the ups and downs of dorm life. I never gave myself the chance to meet fellow students who could plausibly become my friends for life.

Not that I didn't have the ability to do so. That's not the case at all. In fact, after I had a couple of years of community college under my belt, I applied to—and got accepted into—several good schools. Texas A & M, Centenary, University of Texas-Dallas. But I chose another route instead.

While many of my good friends left home for schools such as these, I chose to take up a very expensive avocation—auto racing. That being the case, I ended up relinquishing my educational goals and working full time to feed my insatiable need for speed. In the process, I became quite the partier. Good times, those were...But I feel like a I wasted a tiny bit of time.

By the time I came out of that phase, I realized I'd never be able to fulfill my educational goals in the same manner I had once planned to. I married, acquired bills, and felt it was too late to consider living “the college life” in the traditional sense. However, I knew I still had to get to the same final result—a degree.

That brought me to UHV, which is not a traditional school at all. No dorm life, no athletics, no Greek hazing. While I sometimes wish I had experienced college the way most young adults do, I do not regret my decision thus far. UHV, for a small school, does have its advantages. The small class sizes and the brilliant professors never fail to impress me. The staff members are very attentive and knowledgeable—they really know me. I'm not just a number.

The way I tend to look at it, when I step back and console myself, is that I couldn't have trusted the person I was 10 years ago to make such important decisions regarding my future. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life back then. I just wanted to go to school because it was “the right thing to do.” After waiting a few years, I now know what it is I want to do—all because those who are around me now inspired me to follow my dreams.

I now see that my friends, the ones who went away to college, still have their college friends. They have a supportive “network.” Sure, I still have a great friend or two from my partying days, but I, too, have a “network” now. A network I have formed with the inspiring people I've met in my latest college experience. I may not have lived “the college life,” but I wouldn't trade it for the people I've met who've brought me to such a peaceful place in my life. And I do feel comforted by that fact.