Thursday, May 29, 2014

On Being a Has-Been

This week is always a little bitter-sweet for me. Every year sometime in early summer my Facebook feed is flooded with pictures from girls competing for Miss Nevada. For the past several years I have cheered from afar as friends have been crowned as Miss Nevada, but this year and last year I haven't really known anyone in the pageant, but their photos still make it to my feed through one mutual friend or another. I recognize a few faces from the Teen program or from a smaller pageant called Cinderella that I competed in for years, but I don't know any of them, not really.

In previous years I waited for the text or call to tell me which of my pageant sisters had won because regardless of the outcome, I probably knew the winner. Now I just wonder what it would be like to still be there myself. It's funny though because I'm still competing age. This year or next would probably be my last before I "aged-out." But I chose a different route. I chose to become a wife and a mom. Which I swear I do not regret. Not one little bit.

But half of my life I was a pageant girl. I was in my first pageant when I was eleven, and I continued to compete until I got married at twenty. Pageants were part of my identity. They made me a little different. And honestly I think that is what I miss. When I chose to get married and start a family I knew what I was giving up, and I was completely sure that is what I wanted to do. But I don't think I realized that I wasn't just giving up competing, I was kind of giving up part of who I was.

When people ask me what I like to do I can no longer say, "Well I like to read, play video games, and, oh yeah, I'm Miss {insert title here}." But when I could say that, I got the best responses. Some people would think it was super cool, and others would go on a rant about their idea of pageantry, but regardless, it always sparked a conversation. If you talk to me now all you hear about is how my kid refuses to nap or potty train.

But even though I'm no longer a "pageant girl," and I don't tell people immediately that I used to be one, it never really goes away. In the pageant world it is common to hear of the "pageant bug," which usually refers to a girl who competes in one pageant and just can't stop. It really is catching. But in the process of competing, you catch so much more than what meets the eye.

I became comfortable in front of crowds (enough to wear a swimsuit on stage), I learned public speaking, I gained interviewing skills, I became passionate about service. I'm never nervous when I have to present in class or go in for a job interview because, honestly, I've never been in an interview more difficult than a Miss America Organization interview. And I made relationships with some of the most impressive and dynamic women the state of Nevada has ever seen.

So even thought I am no longer able to introduce myself as Miss Something, I feel different, better for having been a pageant girl. And even though I'll never have the chance to walk on that Miss America stage, I am so glad for the years I got to walk on the Miss Nevada one.

1 comment:

  1. My cousin was Miss Nevada long ago! I remember going to her pageant!