This past Sunday, I competed in a local pageant. The pageant feeds into the Miss America Organization (MAO) and was held at my college. Although there were only 15 girls competing, I was nervous.
But before I delve into pageant day, I think it is best we flash back to a year ago. This time last year I competed in the same pageant for the first time. I had done pageants before, but none with a talent. When I went to the call out, the pageant was only 2 weeks away. I decided to compete anyway. That is right–2 weeks. I learned a piano piece, (“Solfegietto” by C.P.E. Bach, tough song. Not my smartest choice..) as best as I could, busted out my old competition dress and swimsuit and got to preparing. When pageant day came, I woke up feeling ill prepared–and looking back, I was. When I got up to the piano for talent, I could barely control my shaking hands. This was the moment I had been dreading. But, I put on my best smile and promenaded out there. I sat down when it hit me–I forgot my piece.
My mind had gone completely blank. It was a pageant girl’s NIGHTMARE. I began to play, messed up, restarted, messed up again, then pulled my way through to the end. Everything that I hoped would not happen, did. Not going to lie, I cried when I got off stage. I had set a very high bar for myself, and I did not reach my goal.
Flash forward. I had done all I could to not let that happen again. I debated heavily whether I should even try this pageant again. The last time was nothing short of a train wreck, and I was the conductor. But that is the thing. I was the conductor. This time, I made it my goal to make it all the way through the pageant without any major mishaps. I had much more time to prepare. This time for talent I did a dance, which was much more in my element.
Pageant day came, and I was VERY excited! I was ready to fix the past. I had prepped months in advance for this. I kept calm and sailed through interview. I was very happy. The judges were friendly and there were no awkward pauses, and I did not ramble (which is my downfall in interview)! Before I knew it, it was showtime! Swimsuit was up first. I could have had stronger poses, but stuck with what I had.
And then it was time. The moment I had been waiting for–TALENT! I am proud to say my talent went very well. I nailed my turns and leaps under pressure. When the music ended and my dance was done, it was as though a weight had been lifted off me. I did it.
“No more piano mistake. That was AMAZING. You did it,” my friend said to me.
My heart was in the clouds–I had reached a major goal.
Evening gown came, and I got to answer my onstage question, which was about The Pageant Planet! Before all of us knew it, the competition was over and it was time to announce the winner. Long story short, I did not win. I did not win a single award.
I could not have been any happier though.
My goal from the very beginning, from one YEAR ago, was to get through the pageant. I wanted to make myself better, to get out there and show them what I had and I did. No crown or sash could have ever represent that. No outcome, win or lose, could dull my shine or ruin my mood.
I went from crying onstage due to mistakes, to nearly crying onstage due to pure joy.
Pageant Planet family, if there is one thing you get out of this article, it is that YOU are the ones in control. Whether you win or lose. YOU control how you feel in the end. To me, I won. I won the biggest award that no ribbon or prize can replace.
You are going to make mistakes every now and then, and that is okay! You may even be sitting at a piano bench in front of a hundred people wishing you knew what to do. Trust me. It hurts. A LOT. Trying again requires a strength like no other.
I was once told, “bravery takes experience.” It could not be more true or more relatable to pageantry.
Do not be afraid to try again.
Now get out there, and try again. You will not regret it. I promise.