So Mum had reminded me that there was an open house at a school just around the corner. My anxiety hasn’t allowed me to go to school full time since 2008. I’ve been teaching myself at home, through a distance-learning program. But lately my fears haven’t been quite so strong, and I’ve been thinking about enrolling in a proper high school to finish my senior year.

Before my parents and I went to the open house, I was pacing back and forth, shouting, and making up songs to release my anxiety. It was cold when we left the house, and I could see my breath—a good sign; it meant I was still breathing.

When we got to the school, my heart was in my mouth. I managed to get out of the car without collapsing into a heap and melting into the snow. But then! The entrance.

I walked through the automatic doors and then almost immediately walked out again, praying that no one had seen me. They had people at the doors to welcome me. Students! And they were wearing matching T-shirts. The HORROR. I personally detest this added barrier to getting into a building.

So I half felt like a failure already, but I collected myself, trying to freeze the panic out of my brain. I observed my breath coming out in clouds. For a moment, the gaggle of students seemed to have passed, so we took our chance and bolted in. I was all right because we were inside and I had gotten over the threshold. Sometimes that is the hardest bit.

Walking, like breathing, is good for me. It helps me come to terms with where I am. As we walked around, I could actually observe the niceness of the building. For some reason, me and my mum had the impression that it was a little grotty, but it wasn’t at all. The English teacher spoke to me like he wanted to start teaching me already. He mentioned feminism! And Twilight! And he seemed happy that the latter didn’t really align with my feminist principles! The library was heavenly&#8212an actual, proper library. At my old school, it had been the size of about two classrooms, and there was never a computer free, and there was this strange hedgehog-like librarian. The geography teacher noticed my Clash T-shirt and talked about Bruce Springsteen, of all things.

We all left on a high. I never thought that I could have a genuinely nice experience in a school ever again. In fact, I think my last school had left me with a phobia of institutions in general. But this time, it didn’t feel like “school”&#8212as in a place where every pupil is actually just a grade on a piece of paper. It felt like a place where I would be treated as a young adult, a person who I am starting to feel like more and more. ♦