My mum asked me to sort through some childhood boxes when I went back “home” last year for Christmas, as she was downsizing. I had already been throwing away stuff slowly over the years as I realized that I would never return to France, but I still had 12 boxes ;). Boxes of school books, dishes from my first (and only) apartment in France, letters, clothing (apparently, I wasn’t into shoes but the number of scarves, was ridiculous), my stamp collection, a special stuffy, etc.
Funny enough though, this task was much easier than I had expected. The more time that passes and the less attached you become but I won’t lie, my mum still has one box to move and I brought back a suitcase (10kg) worth of letters from friends, books, pictures (in albums) and other meaningful stuff.
I was sorting out our home office last weekend and I opened this metal box that came with me last year. It was full of letters and medals. What a perfect way to plunge back into a very competitive, special, and interesting period of my life!
I knew when I was 6 that I wanted to do gymnastics but in France, it wasn’t a sport that was available at that age, so I started with dance. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t gymnastics and at 9 years old, I was finally able to join a club, a good one club. My parents made sacrifices to get me there and I can’t thank them enough.
I was good from the start and after a couple of years, it became more serious and I was training 3 times a week with the goal of eventually competing. What a thrill and what an amazing experience for an 11-year-old girl. In 1994, I was asked to join the team heading to the “Championnat de France de gymnastique feminine par équipe” in Chambéry and yes I probably dreamt about being the next Nadia Comăneci. I wasn’t that good though 😉 or perhaps my priorities shifted and life became more normal when I was around 15 years old.
My love for gymnastics never left me and it was only a year after I stopped competing that I went back to practicing. I choose a much smaller club, with very little opportunity to compete and a much friendlier atmosphere.
Looking at all those medals, I truly cherish this part of my childhood. I might have missed a few birthday parties or TV series, I pushed my body so hard that I never grew big and/or tall, and yes, I neglected my early English classes lol, but it was all worth it. I loved (and still do) surpassing myself, I loved (and still do) winning, I loved (and still do) training and having a major goal. I realize though that my story could confuse Generation Z, the generation that gets medals for simply showing up, that has a graduation party for kindergarten but yes, you heard me right, getting a medal (or any sort of recognition) in the 90s was rare, requiring a lot of effort and discipline. I am not saying that the new way is not a positive way, but I really liked that I had to work hard for those special “necklaces”.