What's Pageantry Got To Do With It?
How It All Started
I was a sophomore in college when I began competing in the Miss Pierce County Scholarship Program. It was a local pageant to the Miss America system. At first it was about earning scholarships to pay for school. But soon it became more than that. In my first pageant, I was required to have a volunteer platform. Yes, there was the part where I would be answering my on-stage question in a sparkly gown. However, I learned community service was a major pillar in pageants.
I decided I wanted to help children in foster care. I had spent 13 years of my life in the child welfare system. “I could help others like me,” I thought to myself. “I can make a difference.” I became a panelist at foster parent classes and community events. This led to me volunteering with foster youth in after school programs. After college, I became a motivational speaker. I wanted to share my story of growing up in foster care to help improve the system. And it all started from being a pageant contestant.
What It Takes
Most people associate pageants with glitz and glamour. But a lot goes into the process. I was fortunate to have mentors help me with personal styling and make up lessons. I honed my public speaking skills through mock interviews. What I valued most were the friendships I made and life lessons I learned along the way. The most valuable skill I gained was how to market myself in the professional world. Some people mock pageants as being vain and irrelevant in today’s society. I digress. Pageantry taught me the importance of being kind and in tune with the world around me.
I didn’t win the first pageant I competed in. I remember walking off the stage and into the lobby. I began to cry over the fact that I didn’t win. A young girl walked up and asked me to sign my autograph in her program book. At that moment I realized I may not always win in life but I can show up and do the work. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the person I am today without this invaluable experience.
A Second Chance
Ten years later, I decided I wanted to compete again. Why? Because I love improving myself! When I signed up for the 2018 USA Ambassador Pageant, I was second guessing myself. “Why am I putting myself through this again?” I thought. But I trusted my intuition and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I attended the National pageant as Ms. Evergreen State and placed 1st Runner-Up! What I learned from that experience is that you never truly ‘arrive’. Instead, you continue to evolve. I was ecstatic about placing and re-discovered my passion for competing! I had allowed other things in my life to take over my time. I didn’t realize how much I missed it.
A woman I look up to is Debbi Fields, the creator of Mrs. Fields Cookies. “Really?!” you might ask. “‘How do cookies & pageants mix?” As a high school student, I read about her life story of raising a family and building a multi-million dollar empire. I was impressed by her tenacity, confidence, and bravado to make something of herself. She spoke about doing what she loved as the foundation of her business.
This sentiment is a key piece of advice I keep close to my heart. In the midst of everything that has to be done, there is room to do what you love. Yes, the to-do list never goes away. However, I have noticed when I make room for the things I love, I am able to get through that to-do list. And pageantry has taught me so much about this. It’s helped me to stay connected to what’s important to me in my life.
Doing What You Love Is Necessary
I challenge you to pick one thing you love and nurture it. Even if it’s for 20 minutes once a week. Yes, it’s possible. That’s what I did when I was working two jobs and going to school. I would spend about 15 minutes here and there reading tips on how to start my own business. Little did I know that knowledge would come in handy one day. All you have to do is try!
Next month, I will be writing about what it means to add value to the work you do.
Until next time,