I graduated from Temple University with my Master’s in Kinesiology for the Psychology of Human Movement (sport psychology).
My parents and sisters came to the graduation ceremony and were probably more excited than I was. Anyway, it’s always entertaining when we are in large crowds. I usually expect one of my sisters to make an offhand comment, or my mom will run into someone she knows, and then there’s dad, always even-keeled. But something is bound to happen.
I had a diet Snapple that slipped out of my hand and shattered on the sidewalk in a crowd of people. I squatted down to pick up the glass. So did my mom. I really only wanted the cap because I collect them.
Of course a lady got upset and said something like, “Oh no, there can’t be no broken glass wit all these open toed shoes!” I rolled my eyes and we made our way through the crowd. Then a guy was pushing, trying to get by my mom. She said, “Watch it I have glass.” The man told her “Don’t carry it in the air.” Mom said, “I’ll carry it where I can see it. I don’t want to slice anyone.” It was hilarious.
Mom’s barely 5 feet tall and I’m never surprised by her reactions to people or other happenings. You would never know she’s a savvy business woman who basically runs a Fortune 500 company, has traveled the world, is a trained chemist, has a knack for paint and interior design, can tell a great story, deliver a killer speech, among many other things. She’s a little shark.
So I was sitting at graduation, thinking about things I’ve done and what I actually like, and what I want to do, while sort of listening to the keynote speaker who was just okay.
Looking back, I had some great experiences the past couple years working towards this degree. 36 credits, 12 classes, 67 papers, and 7 presentations later, it really was a lot of work.
For the most part, I liked all of my classes, except for statistics that I was required to take. The last math class I took was during my freshman year. So when the statistics professor wrote a symbol on the board for “omega” and I asked where the number six came from, I knew it was going to be a struggle.
I took a group counseling class that was pretty cool. I was approved to take a psychology class at Penn and loved it. I also traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for the Association for Applied Sport Psychology Conference. The conference was really well run and some of the presenters were great.
When I was in Atlanta, I found an LA Fitness to get my workouts in. The last morning I woke up early and took a cab to Coffee’s Gym in Marietta. There was one guy training someone, and a dog just laying next to the weights. Old Olympic lifting and bodybuilding pictures and articles hang on the walls, next to awards for the Olympic lifters who John Coffee has coached as well. I deadlifted, did some one arm rows and chin-ups. I started talking to the two people and asked if John, the owner, would be in. We talked about training and they asked what I was training for, etc. I waited around for a little and they were surprised John wasn’t in yet. I was in a cab back to the conference and my phone rang. John Coffee actually called and said he’s sorry he missed me, asked if I could come back, and said if I ever wanted to train there, or talk training I could call or visit. That was really cool.
I finished my degree by writing a literature review because I didn’t want to conduct any research for a thesis. I choose to write about female bodybuilding at a time when I was really into the topic. In over 30 pages I covered everything from the history of bodybuilding, stereotypes, gender issues, judging criteria, personal experience, media, etc.
I met with my advisor many times to discuss research and talk about edits. During one of our meetings, I told her it’s funny how the research defines men and women, separating masculinity from femininity. Things have changed and the research is a little behind, in my opinion. There are sayings like strong is the new skinny, so it’s okay for women to be fit. But at the same time, it’s okay for guys to wear tight clothes, and act feminine. Strange, right?
Always playing devil’s advocate, I said to my advisor, “Where is the research that justifies masculinity in a relatable way for males today? Tight clothes, physically weak, and sometimes feminine.” She laughed and said that research would be hard to find. In general, society is accepting and everything has to be politically correct.
But eventually, someone should interview men that are weak and question their identity like researchers have done to female bodybuilders. It’s funny that women who lift are described as “gender outlaws” who create a “spectacle”. There were so many things I could have included in my review. At the end, I was actually bored with the topic and reading through all the research, so I’m glad it’s over.
Back to graduation. I appreciate a good speech and realize that public speaking is one of people’s greatest fears. The keynote speaker was a former Temple graduate and is a current Pennsylvania congressman. He lost me after some God and government references. What happened to separation of church and state? He gave a list of 10 suggestions to us graduates. None of them groundbreaking.
Finally, it was time for everyone to walk across stage. Most graduates walked across stage, but a few danced or stomped, or had loud sections of family and friends cheering. It was the entire College of Health Professions and Social Work so it took a while to get through names. Since it was a 7pm ceremony, a lot of people left after their name was called.
I stood in line before my name was read and my advisor shook my hand. She and other faculty members were emotional. Since I did my undergrad at Temple, I realize now how influential they have been. After knowing these professors for eight years now, I appreciate things they have taught me. The only person missing was my undergrad advisor who retired to Thailand. He was nuts but very smart, and I really liked him.
When I sat back in my seat I listened to other graduates talk about future plans. I have it easy because I already have a job, while many are unemployed. I listened as others talked of their plans to keep applying to jobs, go on to another Master’s or Doctorate, or follow their boyfriend/girlfriend and hope they find a job near he/she.
There are so many options, but that last one really confuses me. Why would you work for a few years towards a degree, then put it on the back burner to chase a relationship? Maybe it’s selfish, but I’ll never be disappointed for not doing what I want, because of following some guy. But people do it all the time. I just don’t get it.
Thinking about where I am now, and where I’ll be is weird. I never liked the question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I can’t answer it. I have no idea. Life moves fast.
When I actually think about my life, I can’t believe I have my own apartment, live in the city, have a car, and so on. Sometimes I feel older than I am and can’t believe my sister is married, or that my parents will retire soon, and many other little things. I really like my job and the people I work with. In general, I’m very lucky. I’m always fascinated by how things end up. I just want to keep it simple.
The whole graduation process was anticlimactic. My parents are proud and at least it made them happy to see me graduate. I know I’ll look back and be glad that I went.