Paola: a long road to feel confident with myself

Paola Franzini

It is not a simple job to dig up in our own mind, bring out the most important pieces of our lives and then sort everything using the right words in order to make them understandable from everyone.

 But it is useful also for ourselves, as you can reorder our ideas.

For the next minutes, I will host you in my world and you are welcome to do a tour: I will tell you my experiences, my difficulties and how I have dealt with everything until today. Try to not make too much noise and enjoy this journey!

A happy childhood

I was born in Milan in the February of 1993. I'm the second of 3 children and several scientific types of research demonstrated (or maybe not) that the middle children are the best ones!

paola in 1999

My parents choose the name Paola for me, not because it is also my grandmother's name, but because it is a short name that sounds good with my surname.

This name originates from the Latin word paulus, that means tiny, not big and therefore, broadly speaking, also modest, humble.

Indeed, it is true that I felt in resonance with this description for all my life: I always felt as a little, modest, shy, calm and introvert girl. But recently I'm trying to become a bit less Paola and to regain all my spaces in my life.

I had a happy childhood: I have not felt lack of anything.
Since I was a little girl, I never had the time to get bored. I got piano's and singing's classes and I reached an excellent level in both of them. Some years later I started gymnastics' lessons at school, which made me discover a big passion and a talent.

So, I was 9 when my path in the rhythmic gymnastics switched to a competitive level. Yes, that sport with the ribbons and the hula hoops... That seems so easy, but actually demands huge sacrifices and hard work.

Since then, I left all the other hobbies that I had. Nowadays, I have no idea how to play the piano. About singing, I still have a tuned and nice voice, but it comes with the discomfort when I sing in front of anyone else. I wonder why... Maybe one day I will solve it and I start to sing like a nightingale again.

My years as a gymnast

My life became a sequence of home, study, school, training and competitions, and repeat, over and over again. I never had some free time and my life was completely different from the ones of (almost) all my peers.

I never suffered too much about this situation, even if sometimes I felt a bit envy for my schoolmates because they could easily spend their afternoons playing with friends or watching television.

I had a dream, a desire, a goal... I wanted to train as best as I could and, maybe, one day go to the Olympics: this was enough for me to be happy in my life!

Paola Franzini Rhytmic gymnast

My career as a gymnast brought to me many satisfactions and medals. I reached my career's peak in 2007, when, with my team, I represented Italy at the European Championship!

For 2 years and a half (January 2007 - June 2009), I went to a private school, which had lessons just some hours in the afternoon. In this way, I could spend up to 6-8 hours per day training at the gym.

In September 2009 I started going again to a normal public school. I enrolled in a high school focused on scientific subjects and on languages, and, also if at the beginning I worked hard to made up my "lost" years at school, after a few months I settled in and started to achieve good results.

My comeback to public school was one of the reasons that made me desire more and more a normal life.

I saw the world around me going forward, while I started to feel my own world made of almost just school and gym tighter every day. I wanted some free time, to spend for myself, my friends and the study.

This 8 years where I totally dedicated myself to rhythmic gymnastics definitely contributed turning me into the person I am now.

I learned to schedule my time, work in a team, understand my priorities, work hard with all my heart to reach a goal and do my best.

Unfortunately, I realized that some of these features of my character, sometimes could be real shortcomings! Indeed, I always take everything seriously and I often demand too much from myself and the others. If I don't reach the maximum, I can't be serene. But I'm pushing myself to learn to live my life more lightly, totally accepting who I am, imperfections included. 

Searching for an ordinary life

At the end of 2010, I retired from gymnastics, finally achieving my desired normal life. I could not really wait to be a girl like any other.

I became a full-time diligent student and in my free time I especially loved listening to music.

Once I got my ordinary life, I understood the problem was me, not the fact that I had no free time available. I've always been very shy, reserved and calm. But as the time passed, these traits of me made me feel more and more different and wrong.

I struggled to make new friends and speak with people, especially if strangers. Probably because I felt uninteresting and less appealing than the others.

Ah, self-esteem problems! It would be great if everyone in the world could take conscience of them and try to overcome them...

Anyway, for example, sometimes it happened that I went out with friends and I spent all the time in discomfort and completely silent, just laughing for some jokes.

My first contact with the University world

After I got my high school's diploma in 2012, I had no idea of what to do in my life. I was very good at school and I did not dislike to study, but I still had not found a subject that made my heart beating or a job that I really wanted to do.

So, it was obvious for me to continue with the university and, uncertain between applying to Biotechnologies or Chemistry, eventually I have chosen the Mathematics course degree!

This maths has been a huge pain for me, but probably also one of the biggest lessons in my life.

For the first months, everything went almost good, also if the amount of study was truly enormous. I was not sure that I liked what I was studying. But with perseverance and diligence, I always passed my exams.

Unfortunately, however, my stubbornness in being always the best and always finish what I started, lead me to lose part of my mental, and therefore physical, health.

At the end of my first university's year, I had a real nervous breakdown: I started to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and my self-esteem was sinking.

Slowly, thanks to the big help my family and especially Artëm (we were together just for a few months then) gave to me, I started to get out from this situation! You read more about us here: Our Story

My rebirth thanks to Pole Dance, Computer Science and Love

Paola Melitaea Pole Dance

I started taking pole dance classes, in order to get distracted from the study. Actually, these classes have been much more: they have been the beginning of a wonderful challenge and passion!

Indeed, during the next months, I started to discover myself again, and I found some confidence and faith in myself.

Thanks to this, for some regard for myself and those around me, in November 2014, after more than 2 years of university, I decided to leave Mathematics and to start from scratch with the Computer Science degree course.

I felt this subject more in harmony with me and my capabilities. For me, it is very exciting and fascinating to find out what there is behind a computer and the logic that permits us to use all this digital world.

Since that decision, I was born again! The study at the university was not heavy and the pole dance thrilled me. It did it so much that, thanks to my teacher that always believed in me, I started to teach in a fantastic pole dance studio in Milan.

I discovered that I am a great teacher and I have an incredible hidden feminine side, that was just waiting to blossom. Through pole dance, I got rid of many biases about me and limitations I had built in my mind.

For 2 years I split my life between study and pole dance, spiced with a big amount of Artëm!

It is also thanks to him that, once I found again my peace of mind, I started to ask myself more and more questions about who I am and what I want. For this reason, I quickly started to evolve and improve as a person.

I finally put many pieces of my life in their right place, I started to accept my character and I understood that being different does not mean to be wrong, and actually, it is definitely a plus!

Together, me and Artëm, begun to dream a different life and make it real with the small actions and our projects for the future.

I realized I can build my life exactly as I want, I am free to be whoever I want to be, and to make decisions that may seem crazy to others.

Eventually, on 20th July 2017 I graduated with the highest grade, and exactly after a week, we started our adventure in the world.

Who I am now

paola franzini with a lovely dog

Now, at last, I feel as a Woman. I fell free to express and to be myself and I give less (hoping that one day this less will become zero) importance to others' judgment.

I listen to my heart, my intuitions and my interests, without judging them, even if my rational mind may think they are strange and unusual.

I like traveling, exploring, walking, reading, cooking. But above all, I love to Live with the awareness of what is around me and with the smile.

My life has already been various and eventful, but I can't wait to discover all that is waiting for me, because certainly, it will not be less than my past!

Paola

"Whatever flower you are,
when your time will come, you will blossom.
Before then
a long and cold night could pass.
Even from the dreams of the night you will receive nourishment.
Therefore, be patient about what happens to you
and take care and love yourself
without comparing yourself
or wanting to be another flower,
because there is no better flower
than the one who unfolds in the fullness of what it is.
And when that will happen,
you would discover
you were dreaming
of being a flower
who was going to bloom."

Walter Gioia