Well, let’s just state the obvious…I didn’t win Miss Virginia. In fact, I didn’t even make the Top 11. I will be honest, I was surprised by that. Not because I felt like those who made the 11 were undeserving. Quite the opposite–getting to know the other contestants throughout the week is an amazing and humbling experience because it becomes quite obvious that any one of the amazing, accomplished young women would make a fabulous Miss Virginia! I was disappointed because I felt that all of the work I had put into preparing for the one-of-a-kind job interview had made me as prepared as I could possibly be and I wished that would be enough.
Pageants are a subjective game. There are so many variables at play…what are the judges’ preferences? what are they looking for? what if one judge had to go to the bathroom really bad during my interview? …seriously, you never know what factors are at play. I truly thought I had done the best I could do in each element of onstage competition. So after I wasn’t called as a finalist, I thought, “I must have blown it in the interview room” which is such a discouraging feeling because I had originally thought my interview went very well!
After a long period of confusion and self-doubt, I realized that I had done my best. I had done my best. I don’t know what anyone else’s interview looked like or what the judges were looking for. While I had done my personal best, perhaps it just simply did not scream MISS VIRGINIA in the same way that others’ did. And that’s okay.
Because in the end of it all, I know I put it all out there. I did my personal best and that is enough. I am enough.
One of my goals for the week was to live in the moment. I didn’t want to get so caught up in what the outcome would be that I missed out on the experience. That I didn’t laugh and bond with the other contestants, show my appreciation for the volunteers, and giggle with my teen & preteen sisters. I am happy to say that I accomplished that goal!
My Miss Virginia journey took a large role in a powerful faith-building experience that has changed my life forever. It wasn’t until I put God at the center of my life and sought to use my experience to glorify his name that I really started to do well–both in terms of actually competing and getting the most out of my experience as a local titleholder. The crazy uncertainty of pageants forced me to throw my hands up in defeat and look towards God for one last shot at the game in my final year of eligibility. When I competed at Miss Greater Richmond I felt the calm of trusting Him with my future, and I had never felt so at peace about the outcome, whatever that might be. I rejoiced when I won and praised Him because I knew He had given me this title as a gift and that there would be much to learn from the opportunity.
Backstage at the final night of competition at the Miss Virginia pageant, I took a quiet moment to ground myself in prayer. I remember praying that I trusted whatever God’s plan for me was, whether that was to become the next Miss Virginia or not. I was ready to accept whichever outcome He had planned for me that evening. BUT…I can admit that in my heart there was a caveat…and deep down I was saying “but pretty please just let me at least make the top ten so that my efforts will be validated and I can be on TV and I can say I accomplished something!!!!!” Instead, God humbled me and reminded me that HE is in control. I had to accept His plan without any stipulations.
As previously mentioned, after the pageant was over, I did a lot of self-reflection and I talked to God a lot about my experience and what I should take away from it. Here’s where I am so far…
1. My efforts were validated. My friends and family and MGR team know how hard I worked and what I put into my preparation. It didn’t take more than five seconds for them to tell me how proud they were. And I couldn’t me more grateful for their support and the sacrifices they made to let me pursue my dreams.
2. I was on TV. BOOM. Y’all saw me in that amazing purple gown! :)
3. I have developed life skills, built a network, and made friends that will last far beyond my years vying for a sash and crown. These are invaluable assets that I may not have gained, or gained so abundantly, without the Miss Virginia Organization.
4. I truly reaped the benefits of sacrificing a part of myself to make the world a little brighter for someone else. Between graduate school, an internship, and a hectic schedule of preparing for the Miss Virginia pageant, there were often times I didn’t want to wake up at the crack of dawn to get done-up for an appearance (or even take a shower, for that matter). Sometimes I would wonder, “does this really matter?” and time and time again, an interaction I had would blow that doubt away in an instant. Walking away from an appearance and realizing that I was part of a memory a pediatric heart patient would cherish for years to come or that a hardworking volunteer felt they had a noteworthy guest of honor made every early morning, every gallon of gas, and every high-heeled step SO worth it.
5. I gained a better understanding of who I am and what I value. I spent many an interview trying to play the part of Miss Whoever and say what I thought the judges wanted to hear. Preparing for Miss Virginia and being Miss Greater Richmond gave me the confidence to be myself because that’s good enough. I stopped obsessing over what I ate and regretting a “bad” food choice and started developing a passion for fitness and wellness. I stopped counting calories and I didn’t stop eating ice cream. I stopped telling myself my talent was no good and started practicing a lot more. I stopped trying to impress people and started having more fun! I stopped desperately grasping for a title and started actually appreciating how each experience has shaped/will shape the path of my life. I stopped trying to control things and started trusting God.
While much of the growth process has occurred over the several years I competed, a large portion took place within the past year. The effects of trusting God have made an astounding impact on my life outside of pageants as well. When I look back and see how far I have come from when I was crowned Miss Greater Richmond only a year ago, I think, “If only I had trusted God sooner!”
There are so many exciting things happening in my life and I cannot wait to see His plan unfold.
I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to serve as Miss Greater Richmond 2013. It was an incredible year!