Pageants are not a cheap “hobby” to have. In high school I got my first real job, just so I could finance my sparkle filled dreams. Not coincidentally it was at a gown boutique…pageant girl heaven. I swear they got half of my paycheck back because I was my best customer.
By the end of my teen years, I felt like my pageant career had run its course. After about a decade of competing I evolved from a little tomboy to the glamorous IJM Miss Florida Teen 2010. Prepping and competing year round helped me find the best version of myself. When I went to college I was in a couple little college pageants, but nothing compared to my time as a teen queen.
Right after college I made my way to Hollywood and completely lost myself. It was a turbulent time of change for me. I was only a few weeks out of school, living across the country from friends and family, working full time, and struggling to find my way. Los Angeles is not a nice place for the lost and confused, so I had a few hiccups my first year here. Now I’m slowly approaching year two and I’m finding my rhythm, but to find myself I had to return to what helped mold me.
In January, with only 48 hours notice, I competed in the Miss California US pageant. A contestant had dropped out and was already sponsored, so her spot was offered to me if I could compete. Without any practice, training, or anything I pulled myself together and decided to just go have fun. I’m a has been, right? Luckily I had pageant worthy items still in my closet, but I had to go out and buy a swimsuit. One of the main reasons I stopped competing was my fear of the swimwear competition. I’m athletic but baring my curves onstage has NEVER been a life goal. It’s the main reason I hadn’t competed in the largest pageants in the country, The Miss America and Miss USA systems.
Well I faced my fear head on! I kept the pressure off by only telling 3 people I was competing and being incognito online. Then when I did compete…I had a blast. It was crazy to feel so calm and so confident, because I knew I had nothing to lose. Whether I won or lost my family would still love me, I was still single, and had to go to work Monday morning. Without worry of not meeting others expectations I gave it my all and flourished! My interview and evening gown competitions were probably the best they’ve ever been! As a young woman my opinions were stronger, breadth of knowledge was wider, and my whole body rippled with positive energy.
And the dreaded swimwear…prelims were shaky I have to admit. I was nervous and it showed, but I did it and that’s all that mattered. During the finals I rocked the stage like a Victoria’s Secret model!
In the end I was called for making it in to the top 5! I was thrilled because of my lack of practice but shouldn’t have been so surprised. This is my element! My competitors probably didn’t have over 10 years of pageantry under their belt like me. I nailed onstage question and placed 3rd runner up to the new queen.
Did I mention the new California queen was an old friend from middle school? In a crazy coincidence one of my classmates who I hadn’t seen since we were 13 years old competed too. Considering that we went to middle school in Orlando, FL, bumping in to each other in LA was surprising. We hung out all weekend! Reconnecting with her was a highlight for sure!
After the pageant I decided I would post about my experience on social media, because I was proud of my growth. The confidence and poise I exhibited all weekend is ingrained within me and I finally let it shine once again. The outpouring of support I received was kind of overwhelming, but I am incredibly grateful for it.
So you can say I got bit by the pageant bug…