Today I decided to give my hóngbāo (red envelope) to one of the lecturers of the SPLAS department (Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies) at the University of Nottingham: Antoni Kapcia. As my tutor was on sabbatical last semester, I had been put under Tony’s tutorage for the time being until Dr Sharman returned. I feel that I should refer to him as ‘Professor Kapcia’ but in not wanting to make him sound like one of the scary professors (or Professor Snape for some reason), I’m going to continue with Tony.
Once I explained my idea for the blog post, he sat back in his chair and philosophised a little on what good advice could be. He started with ‘Carpe Diem’ by saying “you’re only on this earth once so you might as well enjoy it. Don’t put if off until tomorrow, cause you never know.” To which he added, “having said that I always put things off until tomorrow so…” and we laughed. Isn’t that always the way that we don’t seem to have enough hours in the day?
Tony, thinking that ‘carpe diem’ was not sufficient, continued to explain that he was more inspired by a lecturer he had than what he said. The lecturers style ended up being the style that Tony himself has ended up adopting, and I have to say, it must have been good because many students love going to his lectures. (I’m not trying to suck up here, I’m just stating what I perceive to be a fact.) This advice stuck with me because it shows that not all inspirations and motivations come from words but can be communicated through actions. We all grow up wanting to be great people and as children are constantly trying to take the good qualities from both parents and other influential figures. Therefore, I guess our idols give us advice without realising it.
However this wasn’t the one piece of advice Tony ended up choosing…
Trust your instincts
Funnily enough, from the first day that I sat in his office and expressed my worries for the year ahead (with tears involved), that’s what he ended up saying to me. It was one of those moments where I heard the words but I didn’t listen. Since then I have. Out of all of the choices we make, the ones that we do because we’re listening to our gut feelings saying ‘go for it, go for it!’ are the ones that turn out trumps. The ones that make us happy (thanks Grandma) and mean we do what we love (and Grandpa).
One way I noticed that our instincts are the most reliable decision makers was after a few meetings with Tony to help me with Spanish. Even with something as simple as doing a translation exercise or making up a sentence in a foreign language, we let the self-doubt creep in and take over all common sense. It is as if we have this subconscious belief that it’s not possible to get the answer right first time. This also goes for our choices and actions. Tony used the example of students doing their dissertations. Once they’ve started and have hit their first wall and can only see failure on the horizon, it’s worth asking yourself, “why did you pick this in the first place?” It is because there was an element to the topic or question that interests you and you followed the instinct to pursue it, remember that even when the research is suddenly daunting or it seems to be too much at once. You followed your instinct, keep following it because it’s more likely to turn out right than wrong.
Tony has been a major source of motivation and inspiration for me so far this year. I have found it to be a massive rollercoaster and it turned out that every time I was on the verge of worrying too much or letting nerves get to me, Tony would set it right. It’s amazing how someone can have such a positive effect on people, and I encourage all other students to reach out to their lecturers’ and tutors’ because they can change your perspective for the better in an instant. There hasn’t been one time where I’ve walked out of his office feeling anything but (almost) ready to take on the world. Plus, I’m sure he’d definitely call me a “crazy whirlwind” or something similar as I am quite a hectic individual!
My mum reminds me that those who follow their instinct are way more brave than those who sit on decisions and don’t take action. This year I’m going to try to strive to make more decisions without too much unnecessary hesitation when I know that it is the right thing for me. I hope all the ambitious “monkey” energy gives you all the motivation to do what is right for you.
Lots of love,