To some people, a summer job is just that—a job. But finishing up my second summer at the ice cream shop where I work has become so much more than just a way to earn money.

I work with six other girls, and while so many girls could cause drama, we all get along extremely well. While I've always enjoyed going to work, things changed this summer. It's been a difficult few months, and I'm dealing with everything from my mom being in the hospital and learning to walk again, to scrambling to get everything together for college, to trying to spend as much time with my friends as I can before I leave.

Work has become my stress relief. When I want to get away from all the pressure of life, I can go to work, and I forget about my worries. When I just need someone to rant to, the girls are always willing to listen. And when I just want someone to talk to—about boys, school, friends, anything—they're always there.

It took me a while to realize that life could be very different if I didn't have this job and these girls. Of course I have a great group of friends, but coworkers are a different type of friend altogether. They've seen me at my best and my worst, my exhausted and my full of energy, my no makeup and my pageant makeup. They have made my job an outlet for everything I'm feeling in this incredibly emotional time in my life. And they've become some of my most cherished friends.

So, girls: thank you.

Thank you for never complaining when I rant about the same boy over and over again.

Thank you for always supporting me.

Thank you for understanding when I needed a day off because things had just gotten too rough.

Thank you for the endless lip-syncing sessions.

Thank you for never failing to make me laugh.

Thank you for pointing out all the dogs or cute boys we see.

Thank you for chasing down umbrellas with me when a freak storm hits.

Thank you for the college advice, on everything from what clothes I should bring to whether I should join a sorority.

Thank you for loving me as I am.

Lastly, thank you for being you. Thank you for being crazy, silly, caring, fun-loving, supportive, hardworking, and some of the greatest people I've ever met.

I appreciate more than you could ever know.