My official last day at Starbucks was Friday. I can’t believe how fast this summer has gone by; but even more unbelievable is how much I’ve changed. When I first started working at Starbucks I was this timid person with a bad case of anxiety and I don’t know how I managed to survive the first month. I felt like I should quit every day because of how stressful it was, but somehow I managed to push through and I’m really glad I did. Next week I’m going away to school, and instead of being nervous about it I’m actually kind of ok with the whole idea. I recently decided it was time for me to stop being so reserved and have a little more fun with my life. I’ve always been a very stoic person, with a fixed personality and a tendency to judge people a little too harshly. I’m not saying I’m any less judgmental, but I think Starbucks definitely help bring down that wall I’d had up for so long. I had fun almost every day at work, and even when I was bored I was still glad to be doing something.

Since it was my last day, and I was closing with my best friend in the store (the assistant manager), we decided to try and beat my record closing time of 25 minutes. The schedule always gives us 45 minutes to close, but during those 45 minutes you’re not earning any labor for the store because no customers are coming in. So the faster you close, the more hours are available for people during the day time. I had gotten into an argument with a coworker earlier this week who no one likes because she’s got a horrible attitude, and she critiqued the way I closed because I did things that hindered work during the hour before we close the store. She would rather we leave everything until after we close, than do things early and have to change the way we move in the store for a short time. She was part of the reason I wanted to beat my closing time of 25 minutes. As if breaking the record wasn’t challenge enough, we got a new person in 3 weeks ago and he’s still too new to fully understand what we have to do in the store. I wrote him a list and he’s actually pretty fast (he closes in 35 minutes) but I still have to take time to explain things to him and that slows me down. I decided to close bar side (the side that makes the drinks) because that’s my fastest side and I knew the new guy would get help from our assistant manager with the other side of the store. Can you guess how long it took us to close the store? A whole 15 minutes. It’s the fastest close of any other employees on staff.

I know its something silly, but I honestly feel so proud knowing that I started that job with the self confidence of a naked mole rat and ended up being genuinely the best barista that store has seen. Customers were hugging me goodbye and wishing me well all week, and I even got a “we’re all proud of you” from the coworker everyone hates (though I learned later there were ulterior motives for her). This job was one that went against all of my beliefs and in the end it made me a stronger person with more skills and an even sharper wit. I’m sorry if this post sounds arrogant, but I really haven’t had too much to be proud of in my life and this job was one that made a huge impact on my life.

I’m truly hopeful that it’s given me the tools to succeed in this next stage of my life. I’ve only got a week left before I have to be properly moved into my new place, and before school starts up. I’ll be in a completely different part of the state, with no ties to anyone, and nothing holding me back except for myself. I often dream about living in a world where the only thing holding me back is my imagination, and I was so busy with that concept I overlooked that I was holding myself back in every other way. This new school might be a challenge, but if there’s anything I’ve learned this summer its that nothings impossible. I juggled two jobs and was working 60 hour weeks without days off at one point this summer! 2 years ago I could barely bring myself to do yard work!

Oh, I forgot to mention. I cut all of my hair off. It hasn’t been this short since I was in elementary school. When my aunt saw it she actually had to get some pictures of me as a toddler out because I haven’t had my hair shorter than 4 inches my entire life. The edges and back are shorter, but the top is about three inches long and still has some curl to it. I’ve got a lot more freedom with this style. And today my mom and I went shopping, so I’ve got a few new clothes for school. I bought a pair of red pants even. If you knew me in real life, you’d know that red pants are something I’ve never been up for. I’ve actually always hated the color red. I decided it was time for a change though, with me moving out and going to a new school, and getting a new job (not sure what yet) and finding new friends. Why not wear something I’ve never worn before? Get a haircut I’ve never had? My life is in a state of such chaos that it’s actually not even scary. I’ve got more opportunities today than I’ve ever had in my entire life, and I finally have enough confidence to go and utilize them.

I always said 19 would be the hardest age for me. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but I actually kind of promised myself it would be, in that way I have of promising things. I know this is going to sound silly, but if I set my mind to it, I usually can get things to happen the way I want. Things I don’t even have control over. I like to joke with people about being able to cast spells, which I don’t do in such an artistic way, but I do like to think I have a certain sway over things if I empty my mind and frame a thought a certain way. “To think without thinking”, if you remember me talking about that from years ago when I was rereading the Eragon series, haha. What I’m getting at is that when I was younger, 14 or 15 perhaps, I decided 19 would be the year I struggled with the most. Whatever I faced before then, whatever I faced afterword (if I survived it), nothing would be as bad as the year I was 19. I think about this a lot, because I really almost didn’t make it through to my 20th birthday. There was nothing special about being 20 as far as I was concerned, it was all just about not being 19. So over the years, as I thought about what my life would be like and what growing up might mean for me, I half-consciously “cast a spell” on that year. Or rather, a curse. If we’re being honest, I’m actually better with curses than I am with spells. If you can even call what I’m doing by thinking a certain way about the world “magic”. I only really call it that because I have no other word for it, and it sounds so much more fun to me than anything else I can think of.

19 was my cursed year, in which I would be tested to the point of breaking, and if I made it through I would be happier. That’s the curse I set for myself. I can’t tell you why I did this, and I knew it was going to be hard, but at the time it sounded like a good idea, and having made it through I really don’t think it was all that bad of a plan. Survive one year of misery and live the rest of your life knowing you can weather anything. I’m not saying the years before being 19 were easy, because they were only slightly less terrible than being 19, but I can say that 19 was the hardest age for me without a doubt. It was kind of like tempering steel really. I’ve started rambling a bit, haven’t I? And worst of all I’ve lost my train of thought.

What I’m trying to get at is that I think the worst is behind me, and that I’m extremely thankful for everything this summer brought to me. Before now I felt like a lost little canoe, caught on a rock in a great wide river. Unable to move, crushed under the weight of the passing water. But now I’ve dislodged from that rock and there’s nothing holding me back. With paddle in hand, I go bravely forward into uncharted waters confident in myself but willing to change. A flower who has been hindered by the passing storm, but whose brilliance bursts forth in the sun that follows.

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