Cup 7

Person: Noshir Amaria

drink: medium brewed coffee, to stay 

My mom always told me to never talk to strangers. If I’d followed her advice, I would have a total of eight friends in the whole state of Michigan.

When my parents dropped my off at school as a freshman, her parting words were, “Now remember, don’t talk to strangers!” Of course, she didn’t mean it literally—as an out-of-state student everyone was a stranger—it was her way of telling me to make smart choices. If I had abided by her rule this project never would have happened because Noshir Amaria was definitely a stranger.

Nosh and I had talked a few times over Twitter, just quick, 140-character, messages about something or other (this is a common occurrence in the perplexing world of Twitter). Everything I knew about him came from his 160-character biography that read: Die-hard Spartan, Athletic Trainer, Future Sports Medicine Osteopathic Physician. Nice guy & friend to all SPARTANS. Basically, I knew Nosh was a friendly Spartan interested in MSU Athletics—a description that matches each of the 70,000 sports fans that fill Spartan Stadium each Saturday home game.

So why have cup seven with Nosh? Well when I announced the start of my 52 Cup project on Twitter, he responded within minutes expressing interest in being one of the 52. My first reaction was to say okay—the unpredictability of meeting a complete stranger would add to the adventure.

But when the time came to schedule the meeting, I was torn. The truth is, situations with unknown outcomes make me uncomfortable, which means my natural tendency is to avoid them. The rational person inside me kept insisting I go the safe route and ask a friend to recommend someone for cup seven. But I had already said yes to Nosh, so I had to hold up my end of the bargain.

At 10 am on a Friday, I found myself sitting across from Nosh at Espresso Royale. After walking past him waiting for me outside (I had no idea what he looked like) he came inside, introduced himself, and we ordered coffee. I decided to kick off the conversation with the only topic I knew we had in common—MSU Athletics.

As a medical student in the osteopathic medicine program, I knew he worked closely with the varsity cross country team—I knew this because I was on the team my freshman year. What I expected would be a topic to break the ice soon became the focal point of our conversation. Nosh’s passion is athletic training. He graduated from MSU with an undergraduate degree in athletic training, worked as a trainer for four years, and is now suffering through medical school so he can ultimately land his dream job as a sports physician for the Michigan State Athletics department. 

Saying Nosh likes athletic training is an understatement. Nosh glows when he talks about it and the conviction in his voice could stop one of the 300-pound offensive tackles he used to tape ankles for before games. However, achieving a big dream takes much more than just passion, and Nosh is quick to make that point. It takes focus and determination to overcome the obstacles and distractions that undoubtedly get between the dream and the reality. Luckily Nosh has that too, he’s made up his mind and he won’t let anyone—or anything—stand in his way.

It hasn’t been easy. Nosh wasn’t accepted to medical school the first time he applied. Then when he was finally accepted he had to turn down attractive job offers in exchange for the grind of medical school. He had professors tell him he would never survive school, he failed big exams, he listened as friends listed reason after reason why he wasn’t making the right choice and battled his own self doubt during especially difficult times. But he has endured.

He gives some credit to his family. He told me, “You have to have people in your life to support you when you can’t stand on you own.” But ultimately it is his burning passion and steadfast resolve to succeed that has kept him going. “My mom said of all the things I’ve ever learned, how to quit is not one of them”. And the hard work has paid off, on May 5th Nosh will graduate from medical school.

I figured my days of receiving advice from athletic trainers ended the day I left the cross country team to pursue other interests. But there I was at Espresso Royale learning something far more important than how to get rid of a blister or ease an aching muscle. 

Unlike me and many of my peers—we have no idea what we are doing with our lives—Nosh is focused like a laser on what he wants to do. And he has maintained that focus even though the road has been difficult. There were easier paths he could have traveled, he picked one with many potholes and tight turns. Why? Nosh knows how to listen. He ignored what critics said and listened to what his heart told him. When he encountered a pothole or missed a turn on his path, he relied on that heart—that passion—to get him through.  

After my cup of coffee with Nosh, I’m not a single step closer to knowing what my dream job is, but thanks to Nosh, I know what it will look like when I find it. Until I can sit in a coffee shop for two hours glowing with excitement as I talk about what my future holds, I need to keep searching. Nosh is a prime example of what it means to pour your heart into something. We see athletes do this all the time—the iconic moments when an injured player, with all odds stacked against him, goes back out onto the field and gives all he’s got to succeed at what he loves. Those moments are hard to find. All too often, the noise of the crowd muffles what our heart is saying.

I’m no exception. I can’t help but wonder if the reason I can’t figure out my future is because I don’t have the courage to shut out the well-intentioned noise from people I love and respect in order to listen to my heart. Or maybe it is the fear of the difficult road I’ll have to travel to reach that goal. But the truth is—any path I choose will be filled with hardship—that’s just the way life goes—and the surest way to overcome those obstacles will be a burning passion for the dream job that awaits me at my destination. I have to drown out the outside noise and listen to my heart to find that passion.

Cup seven illustrated that. My mom told me not to talk to strangers, but that didn’t stop me from sitting down for coffee with one. In the case of Nosh, the decision to follow my heart and step out of my comfort zone paid off. I learned a valuable lesson in the process—one I will carry with me on whatever path I decide to take.