Sometimes in life, the moments we’ve been praying for happen when we least expect it.
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming Miss Virginia. That dream seemed so impossible I didn’t act on it for a very long time- but it always was in the back of my mind.
Sunday night, right around 6pm, I won the title of Miss Historic Hanover.
Honestly, I was shocked. I’d had (at least in my opinion) a mediocre interview (generally, interview is probably my strongest part of the competition) I was dealing not only with pressure from the competition itself, but also pressure from finals. But I let that go. I let the pressure I was putting on myself go. This was the first time that I really forced myself to focus intently not on the end result, but on each element of the competition.
Whenever I talk to people just starting out in the Miss Virginia Organization, I always try to give one piece of advice. Everyone’s Journey is Different.
My Journey to Miss Virginia wasn’t always easy- frankly, sometimes it was incredible painful. It was painful to lose, over and over again. I have not been competing in pageants for a long time and I lack experience in other fields that tend to help girls perform well on stage or to teach them valuable things. Until last year, I could barely apply makeup. I changed my talent routine numerous times trying to find my fit before I began working on ventriloquism, something I really hadn’t even heard of up until two years ago. My first dress was ill-fitting and I could barely walk in it. Although I’ve always been somewhat active, I had issues with leading a healthy lifestyle. And details like good spray tanning (s/o to Studio Bronze and Tammy Booker for making sure that’s never an issue anymore!) often went above my head. Although now I’m considered to have a fairly decent interview, when I first started my interviewing skills were, for lack of a better word, atrocious. I didn’t have a concept of how to truly develop my platform.
I’ve had real low points. I’ve had times when I wanted to give up, when I believed I wasn’t a fit or lacked the necessary competitiveness. As someone who doesn’t like to lose, it was hard to lose repeatedly. It was hard to keep fighting for a dream that felt impossible.
But here’s the thing. Everyone has a different path when they compete, and everyone’s journey is different. You’re going to make mistakes- I certainly still make plenty! But those mistakes will help you grow. Those losses will help you grow. I remember at sweeps the first time I competed (and was the walking definition of a hotmess), there was a girl who was competing for the last time and about to age out. It was her last opportunity to compete on the Miss Virginia stage, yet she seemed to be calm and collected. And that made a difference. She won a title that night and went on to compete at Miss Virginia. There have been state titleholders and even Miss America titleholders who didn’t win their first local for years. There have been Miss Americas who lost locals the year they won Miss America- because ultimately, the determination of who wins the crown rests with one panel of judges.
Losing is hard. It’s painful. It can make you question your worth. But if you let it, it will be the greatest teacher you can possibly have. It will be a source of motivation to push past your insecurities and work on the things you can improve on. It can make you a better competitor and a stronger person.
There are two ways to handle loss. You can either use it as an educational tool, or you can let it cause you pain. You can either take it as a way to improve and grow, or you can take it negatively. The former pushes you closer to your goals, the latter farther from them.
The journey that led me to last Sunday night at 6pm wasn’t an easy one. But I’m so grateful for it. But I’ve had an enormous amount of support, and I am so grateful to each and every person who has uplifted me and supported me and encouraged me. You all know who you are, and know how truly grateful I am.
And you better believe this journey isn’t over yet.
Miss Historic Hanover 2018