I wasn’t going to post this until after you guys graduated. I should be studying right now. A year ago, I would not have had this “with great procrastination comes great contemplative thought” mentality I am now experiencing.
But the great institution of millennial wisdom Buzzfeed once informed me there are multiple things that are more important than finals.
You are but four of them.
To Zach, Devin, Natalie and Kate:
Did you, too, have misgivings when I timidly tiptoed into your presence after deciding to join another random organization a month into my freshman year? All I had at the time were a few Maneater bylines and a lot of waxing poetic about how much I could bring to the store in terms of communication and customer connection. Yet you guys saw promise in my try-hard, puppy-dog persona —that I think will extend beyond the realm of being a first-year — and took me on.
As one of the youngest on the team, I definitely looked up to each of you a lot, which you probably realize, given how my campus identity was (and still sort of is) in its formative stages. If I could give out superlatives, I would say that all of your passions — each unique, but each with equal power — carried over into how I perceived people, and more importantly, collaboration through art.
All 100+ of these Quirks* artists were different, and the four of you are also very different. But this store celebrated the differences, especially among the team, refusing to play favorites or exclude people. I don’t think any of us knows how we somehow all meshed, but I hold you responsible for maintaining the amazing, encouraging and uplifting culture of this workplace. In light of how negatively I perceived other spaces on campus, Quirks was refreshing — some of the most famous people on campus were here to serve others, selling their art, promoting their accessories, capitalizing on communal ambition. It couldn’t have been a better place to be as an aspiring entrepreneur — or just someone who wants to learn more about people, like me.
And I can’t thank you enough. Because at the end of the day, looking back on it, I think Quirks did more for me than I did for it.
On multiple occasions I missed deadlines as I became overloaded in other areas of my life. I took on projects that stagnated. I had to miss out on shifts a lot. I made individual excuses back then, but they all added up to a picture of me that was probably not that promising.
But none of you held it against me — you were straight with me when things weren’t okay, but your patience and genuine concern about my growth as a person mirrors that of the best teachers.
Even though I’ll be a person who profiles businesses like yours in the future (so I was probably not the best asset to the company) I think getting a behind-the-scenes look at how things are done — how decisions are made, how people are regarded when everyone’s looking at their best interests — made me less cynical about the world of numbers and profit and potential win-lose situations. Getting an exclusive look at people in the involvement cult — the friends you guys surround yourselves with who are also gung-ho and on fire for their own causes — was also infectious and made me seriously reevaluate some of my own choices, as a journalist and just as a growing and thriving 19-year-old.
Who would’ve thunk that at the end of four successful years at Mizzou, you guys would have also ended up mentoring a bunch of ragtag kids? I’ll never forget the times I lamented my problems in the store and had a comforting shoulder to cry on or a sprinkling of joking but good-intentioned advice to make me smile.
In February I pointed at you guys (Devin literally, the rest of you figuratively, or maybe Natalie was there I don’t know) and said you were four of my favorite seniors. I’m going to cringingly revise that statement (because I really hate cheesy posts) and say you are four of my favorite people. (And I have 2,000 friends on Facebook. So that is a weighty statement, sisters and brothers).
Even if “keeping in touch” in the future doesn’t extend past a “hello, all!” in the GroupMe on occasion, I feel like I’ll be (almost!!!) okay….. Because I know that the world needs a lotta kids like you, probably more than I need you now. (On that note, stay in touch, however.)
So congratulations, on making it through four years at Mizzou, and all the love and thanks in the world for looking out for a random no-name freshman and choosing to see her for her potential and character, instead of the sum of who she is at this moment in time.
In the words of Devin Kelsey himself:
*Quirks Consignment Store, LLC was a student-run and operated store where students, faculty, staff and alumni could sell their one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted items. We made a lot of money. But also met a lot of cool people.