I turned seventeen in September of my senior year of high school, so the summer I was seventeen was the summer after I graduated from high school. I worked for a day care center that summer, and it was my first job. Well, my first non-babysitting job. My parents didn’t let me work in high school because they wanted me to focus on school and extracurriculars. I decided on a day care center because I wanted to major in either elementary education or early childhood education in college, and I thought this job would be good experience. This was the best job I have ever had. I worked with the toddlers. Most people thought that they were the most challenging group, but I thought they kicked ass. Often I was showing them something for the first time, and there is nothing better than the look on a kids face when you show them something for the first time. They look at you with such awe. One child in particular took a shine to me. All of the employees were called Miss [first name], and my first name rhymes with Miss, so the kids loved saying my name. When she would see me, she would run up to me yelling “Miss [first name]!” and I would yell back “Miss [her first name]!” She was my buddy, my little helper, and I was sad to leave her. There was another kid who spent a whole day walking around informing each and every one of us that we were wearing socks. He wasn’t telling us in a matter-of-fact way, he was blown away by the fact that we were wearing socks.
Everything wasn’t all great that summer, though. My family and I were not getting along, and hadn’t been for most of the end of high school. I was suffering from depression, but had no family support to get treatment. Right after graduation, one of my classmates had a big bonfire where we burned our notes and such from high school. I ended up staying there all night, and it was the first time I ever stayed out all night (not counting sleeping over at a female friends house, I mean stayed out when I was supposed to come home). It was, literally and symbolically, the end of an era. I was nervous about going to college. I had gone to school with the same small group of kids since kindergarten. Part of me was glad to move on, since once everyone had formed their opinion of me, it was hard to change, but another part of me was terrified of going to college and meeting new people because I was (and still am) painfully shy. What if I didn’t make any friends? What if I was as miserable in college as I was in high school? What if things never got any better?”