Category: Personal Experience


I am a very gifted person when it comes to remembering things.  I am always referred to as “rain man” by my parents.  At the age of four, I can remember all the things my parents and I did together while we lived in New York.  At that time, my Dad was playing minor league ice hockey for the NYFD (yes that’s an actual team, not the fire department).  He had been playing ice hockey since he was little.  He also enjoyed playing soccer and basketball as a teenager so he was very athletic.  When I was a toddler, my Mom would go watch every game he played in while my sister and I were babysat at home.

So, at the age of four, I remember one of the first hockey games I had ever been to, and my Dad was playing in it!  All children aspire to be just like their Mom or Dad so I in fact used the social learning theory.  In our textbook, “this theory examines the socialization process whereby children internalize many identities and norms of behavior, not just gender.  The theory portrays socialization as a passive process in which children learn by watching and imitating others” (DeFrancisco & Palczewski, 2007).  I demonstrated this theory because I wanted to be just like my Dad after watching his game.  This is when I first started to play ice hockey.  Days later, I had a hockey stick and goal in my driveway.  My Dad was one of the “bad boys” on his team, so he would exemplify aggression and determination.  In my driveway, I would make up game-like scenarios and use aggression and determination to score an “imaginary” goal.  Even though I do not play ice hockey anymore, I used what I observed from my Dad in the past to my advantage and turned out to be a pretty talented ice hockey player.

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The cognitive development theory can be best shown in my life through athletics.

“Like psychoanalysis, cognitive development explains gender identity development as a mental process.  Like social learning, it notes that children will behave according to social norms of gender.  Cognitive development theory is different from social learning because the assumed motive for learning gender is not a desire to mimic others or to attain rewards from others but a desire for self development and competency” (DeFrancisco & Palczewski, 2007).

I have used the cognitive development theory in many tennis matches that I’ve played.  When an individual is out on the tennis court, there is no one to help them because it is an individual sport with no form of coaching whatsoever.  If things get tough, players have to rely on themselves to pull them back up.  Finding a will to win in my opinion demonstrates the cognitive development theory.  I have demonstrated this many times when I have come back from a large deficit to become victorious at the end.  This ability and skill I have accomplished cannot be taught or learned.  It comes deep within an athlete’s heart and sole.  Many professional athletes exemplify this competency.  However, there are some athletes who can’t ever figure this out, and that’s one of many things that make sports intriguing to watch.

“Researchers in anthropology have provided evidence of the unique ways in which different cultures construct and define gender.  Anthropological theory encourages a researcher to try to become a part of a given culture to better understand its norms, values, and identities, and posits that each culture will define its norms, values, and identities (such as gender) in unique ways” (DeFrancisco & Palczewski, 2007).  There have been many experiences in my life that have been influenced culturally to my self-development and self-awareness.  There is one instance, in particular that stands out, which represents gender styles culturally different from my own.

Nearing the end of my seventh grade year at Short Pump Middle School, I made friends with an Islamic girl, Sabrina, in my biology class.  We became close as we did multiple dissections as lab partners.  During the last week of school, she came up to me personally and was very nervous about telling me something.  I had no idea what it could be because we were completely comfortable with each other and had no problems whatsoever.  She told me that at the start of our eight grade year, she had to transform into a full Muslim woman, meaning she had to cover the hair on her head and wear a robe to cover her body because Islam believes that a woman’s hair is apart of her and should not be exposed.  This was the start of her transformation into something very different and also a very different human being.

I had realized that Sabrina had become culturally different than me in some ways, but was she also still similar to me?  The clothing that had to cover her hair and body is considered different than my gender style.  In those years, I was wearing sleeveless shirts, shorts and sandals to school.  The hair on my legs, arms and hair were all visible, which differed from her gender style.  One similarity we had in common before her transformation was that we were both very sarcastic.  We would say not so nice things about other people to one another, however we were being totally sarcastic.  After her transformation, we differed in that regard.  I was still sarcastic, while she was very mellow and polite to others.

Sabrina did COME FROM a culturally different society, but I was surprised by the differences that had occurred in her own self.  I was surprised by her attitude and personality shift.  It didn’t bother me that she had to cover her body because that’s what all Muslim women must do.  I learned that my culture that I grew up with was very different from Sabrina’s.  I was not forced to do anything I did not want to do.  I could be free and wear what I pleased…under school regulations that is.  If I were in her shoes, I would have made the best out of my situation.  My attitude and personality would not have changed just because of a little transformation.  I also learned that I am very lucky to have been raised the way I was by my parents.

A year ago, my tennis team did not experience many relational problems between teammates.  Everyone was getting along and communicating as a team.  We were the closest team at CNU in my opinion.  We did everything together.  We trained together, ate lunch and dinner with each other, went out with each other, and helped each other out if anyone experienced problems.  However, this season was very different.  Some of my teammates were not on the same page with each other, which led to confrontation during match play.  During a practice, not an actual match against another team but at practice, two of my teammates went up against each other in a practice match.  Throughout their match, there were many disputes about the score, but none bigger than the dispute that happened near the end of the match.  To distinguish the two men, they were Robbie and Lorenzo.

Nearing the end of their match, Robbie made a close line call on his match point.  Lorenzo was absolutely furious at the line call.  He immediately jumped the net and got right in Robbie’s face.  The two argued back and forth and were look like they were about ready to fight one another.  The entire team (including the coaches) wanted to let Robbie and Lorenzo work it out on their own.  My team and coaches took the masculine approach to this conflict, as would other men on different sports teams.  They feel as though outside interference was needed; however, the way this was escalating, and the role as a captain on my team, I felt as though I needed to step in and cool things off.  My job was to try and support each of my teammates in this situation.  My input into this situation was essential.  I wanted to calm each other down so there weren’t any flaws in our team chemistry.  I was very genuine and concerned with keeping their relationship and our team’s relationship in tact.  Both teammates took it upon themselves to shake each other’s hand and apologize.  At other times than this situation, I would be looking at confrontation and possibly joking about it with my teammates and let them work it out.  However, not on this day.  My feminine side was exploited when I was concerned about my teammates’ attitudes and feelings.