X.

When I was 16, I took a summer class and become a Certified Nurses’ Assistant. It was the best way to make above minimum wage, which at the time was $5.50/hr. I was hired at a fairly nice, fairly expensive nursing home, specifically to work in their Alzheimer’s and dementia unit. Working with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients is challenging. Being a 16-year-old CNA working with 40-something and 50-something women and men—for whom being a CNA is their entire career—is challenging. Working ~15 hours a week during high school while requiring yourself to achieve a near-perfect GPA is challenging. (I graduated with something like 11.6 on a 12-point scale; 12 was A+, 11 was A, 10 was A-, etc. Yes, my school was odd.) I had to wear a watch at work so I could take pulses and respirations. Whenever I took a resident to the bathroom, I’d pace outside the curtain while they went, watching that second hand circle. I repeated to myself like a mantra, “I’m going to Yale. I’m going to Yale. I’m going to Yale.” This was before I had even applied. It was my lifeline. Time moved as slow as molasses. As I watched the seconds of each shift tick down, I grew to despise the watch on my wrist. I swore that once I was done working there, I’d get rid of it and never own one again. Lucky for me, cell phones were just becoming a thing. I’ve never had to break that vow.