In June 2015, I started working in a small community. Knowing absolutely no one, I was terrified. After going through all the orientation material, I remember thinking that I would never be able to pull it off.

Everyone seemed to be such good friends and I felt odd being the “new kid”. As the first month or so of my job went on, I thought that I would never be an important piece in their puzzle. I would quietly do my job and occasionally make small talk with my co-workers, but I was never fully out of my shell.

However, that soon changed. I still don’t really know how, but one day I just became a whole new person there. I felt comfortable around everyone and did my job confidently and without a doubt. I laughed and sang with my new friends through the long, eight hour shifts and I got a sense of belonging and worth more than ever before. I felt completely valued as a worker and a friend and that feeling made me love working.

Two and a half years later, my co-workers are some of the closest people in my life. We’ve discussed every detail of our lives without any judgment. We’ve sung every song and danced along. We’ve played games and made the absolute best out of the stressful work environment.

If it wasn’t for our job, I would not even know that most of my co-workers exist. We are all on different paths in life and have different stories of how we came across these paths. However, the one thing we have in common is our job. After spending 40+ hours every week together through the summer, we are inseparable.

Throughout my life, I have always been known as shy, passive, and hesitant. However, those would be the last words my co-workers would use to describe me. Never in my life have I been as comfortable and confident as I am when I’m with them. They have somehow managed to let the world see a whole new side of me without even realizing it.

As time goes on and we get older, it will become time for us to move on from our part-time job. As sad as I am to say goodbye to some of my best friends, I know they will carry our job with them wherever they go.

They will think of us when they hear an overplayed song that we heard at least a thousand times throughout the summers and they will still use our quotes that we use way too often. No matter where life takes me, one thing I will never forget is the friendships I’ve made through my job. The memories will last a lifetime and I will never forget my “full-time friends”.