Wait For It

Let's switch gears real quick. Not that you aren't loving this pageanty saturation though, right? 

So, a fun thing happens when you get 52 girls together, somehow you all so easily end up talking about your love lives. Still hate that term. The girls that are in mushy, adorable, totally-gonna-get-married, true-love-does-exist kind of relationships tell you all about how much they love their guy. The girls that are doing that "fun" dating thing tell you all their best stories. The girls that just dumped a dude that so deserved it tell you why.

That environment, while hilarious and awesome, is just basically asking to be the catalyst that makes you reevaluate whatever relationship situation you might be in.

Should I be dating again?
Probably, but dating is like 68% awful.

Should I just wait and see what happens in 8 months from now?
Maybe, but then you could miss something really great.

But what if I don't wait for this magical job to be over, and then...
...And then you ruin everything because dating can be chaotically awful?

Yes. That. 

The reality is I have no idea what I'm doing. Clearly. And maybe even though it is the hardest, and lamest thing to do, I just have to constantly wait and see. 

Right? Isn't that what we all keep coming back to? You just have to wait and see. Because you can get on tinder and swipe right until your thumb falls off, but that doesn't mean you'll find someone you're supposed to be with. And you could go to a different bar seven nights a week, but that doesn't mean that you'll find someone that really values how bizarre and amazing you are. And heck, let's tack on the idea of meeting someone randomly, or at work, or in the gym. Because you could force awkward small talk on 45 guys a day, and that still doesn't mean you'll find someone who also thinks that pizza should be eaten at every meal.

And, let's just cap it off right here and say... as many times as I have done any of those things - I won't say all those things, because the idea that I would talk to someone at the gym is laughable to literally everyone in the world. Anyways. As many times as I have tried any of those things - so far - they have all resulted in a guy that, in the end, just is so wrong.

Yes, I know, I know - but it's so hard to tell! It is. Usually. Sometimes. I don't know, who are we kidding I wear Asshole Blinders basically every day. But here's what I do know: if you're keeping your heart open enough to try to find someone that you genuinely want to be with, and you want all that mushy adorable stuff with, and you want to find someone that'll be the person you'll date forever...well, it comes down to finding someone who is sure of you, doesn't it?

Because it really is that easy, if you aren't certain about me, I'm certain this isn't going to work.

I know what I've got to offer. I know it is good, and valuable, and usually really fun. If you don't see that - or worse - if you do and you still can't be sure about me, I can't be with you. I can't be in that relationship with you, romantic, or otherwise.

I spent plenty of years being uncertain about me. I was unsure if I was pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, funny enough, cool enough, happy enough. I have been there. I don't need you to take me there again. And if you're still there, I get it. And in fairness, I guess you can be uncertain about you and still be certain of me, but I have yet to see it happen. If you're still there - we can't do this.

Because it boils down to something so easy: I deserve more than that. I deserve someone who knows they want to be with me. I deserve someone who doesn't just know it, but acts like it. I deserve someone who treats me with respect, and holds me to a higher standard than someone you can text at midnight. I know that about myself, I'm certain.

And to find that...to find even someone with 80% of that, I still think you just need to wait and see. I still think that when you put yourself out there on a search for the greatest love ever, you're setting yourself up for failure. Because, yes, as someone who admittedly has often, and aggressively, worn blinders, if you're constantly looking for something specific, you are often willing to let too much go in the name of finding that.

I won't lie and say that hearing a handful of girls, who are madly in love, talk about their guys with hearts in their eyes didn't make me envious. Of course it did. But it also gives so much perspective. It will set you up to see how happy you can be, how happy you deserve to be. It gives you a little hope that the right circumstances do exist. It reinforces every pep talk you've given yourself to not text him back, or to walk away, or to value what you are bringing to this party.

And if you're lucky, it fills your wait and see tank. It gives you that push to say, yeah, not settling is still working really well for me. Even if that means you're still finishing large pizzas by yourself.

The Season Continues

Before we really dive into what happens next, you know for me, as Miss Vermont, let's knock out the first five questions I have been getting for the last 8 days.

How are you, you must be so tired huh?

Exhausted is putting it lightly. I'm the best kind of deliriously tired. Yes, I ran flat out for three weeks (yes, I'm including the week before I left, 'cause duh.) Yes, those were late nights, early mornings, and long days. Yes, it was two weeks of being on all the time. No, I have no idea when I will have time to actually catch up on sleep. Yes, I would love that coffee.

Was it amazing? I'm sure you had so much fun!

It was absolutely amazing, and loads of fun. And no, I cannot break down how magical every day of it was for you because I literally have no perception of how time worked while I was there. I don't remember on which day we went where, or visited what. But yes, so amazing.

Are you happy with the winner?

How could I not be? I got to watch Savvy's dream come true last Sunday. What the judges saw in her, and what America gets to see in her now, I so get it. She is already an outstanding Miss America. 

How do you feel, are you disappointed? 

Uh, we'll get there. But in short yes, and no.

Okay, but what happens next, right? The quick answer is that I get to keep having the best job ever. I'll still be Miss Vermont. I'll still be going to appearances, and traveling the state, and talking to people about my platform. Psst, book me, seriously if you know of something cool that's happening, tell me. I definitely want to come.  And yes, I'll also still work at The Hotel, and Pure Barre. 

So, nope, my plate is not getting any less full any time soon. That was the plan though. From the beginning, I knew I wanted a full and purposeful year as Miss Vermont. Coming home is just a confirmation that that is what I am supposed to be doing. 

In some regard things will get easier now, as I am not technically in prep anymore. Sure, I still plan 
on finding time for the gym as often as I can. And yes, I might entertain the idea of a social life now. But the truth is, I'm still planning on being the best dang Miss Vermont I can possibly be. And yeah, that means my life isn't going back to "normal" just quite yet. That is so okay.

Like I've said a hundred million times since May 27th, I just need to say it again, thank you everyone.

Thank you for cheering me on. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for checking-in on me. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for being on my team. Thank you for making the job of Miss Vermont so enjoyable, so cherish-able, and so doable. 

Miss America: Part One, The Magic is Real

Okay, here we are, one week post-Miss America. I am no less exhausted than when I stepped off the plane on Monday afternoon, but y'all have got to hear about this.

Because it is absolutely a two-week, wild blur, of adventure and laughter, and carb loading, and sisterhood. And all the great things you've heard from girls that have been to Miss America are true.

While I know most of you were following along on Instagram, or Facebook, or even Snap, I'm gonna drop just a few of my favorite memories here. And next week we can talk some more about what I really mean by sisterhood, and what it actually feels like to be on that stage, and what happens next.

The Arrival Ceremony: A few things about this, one, it was the first time we were actually outdoors (for more than 30 seconds) in something like 48 hours, so that alone was magical. Two, the big tagline for this - only given to us by people like Sam, and hostesses, and Marc, etc. was that this was the first time that public was  going to welcome us to Atlantic City, and really see us as a whole. Personally, that didn't get me very fired up, for no reason other than, Hi I'm Miss Vermont, most of the general public in New Jersey wasn't there for me, you know? 

But going out on the Boardwalk, and listening to each girl introduce herself, and watching her sign her state - that was special. Getting to cheer for the STEM, and Women in Business, and Quality of Life nominees - that was special. 

I don't know that I'll ever get over that picture of a simple signature of on my state. I think it is quintessential Welcome to Miss America, and I so love it. 

Atlantic City Rescue Mission, #MissAmericaServes: It is one thing to give your time and your effort to your own community. It is a whole other thing to be able to give to people you have never met, and will never see again, and to do it beside your sisters. 

Spending time at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission was so special. We had a group of maybe 12 of us, and only one family happened to be home. So imagine 12 titleholders doting on two kids. We danced, and sang, and used utensils to make music, and we colored, and we laughed. And for a few hours we weren't at Miss America, we were just in Atlantic City, serving others. 

The Red Door Spa: This little outing will stick in my head for (hopefully) the rest of my night. Just one week before the final night of competition, exactly when we were feeling pretty dang tired. We were treated to all sorts of spa services, spent time in a steam room, drank fancy water, ate brownies, and got to relax entirely before the wild nights of prelims. 

All in all, it was all the weird kinds of magic you've always heard it is. Some days it feels like it was just yesterday. Some days it feels like a complete dream. But the fact that I miss every one of those sweet girls, and I get to look at all of those unreal photos of me, competing on the Miss America stage - well, the magic is real.

Leaping into Memphis

I took a big leap last night. Actually we're gonna go ahead and say it was more like an Olympic sized dive. I thought I was so sure about this choice too. I thought, I prepared for this, I planned for this, I know I want this. Then it came down to it and kept getting so nervous, and second-guessy.

But I did it.

And before we get to what I did, let me just say, I think this was so much like the plunge I took when I decided to compete one more time for Miss Vermont. I didn't realize it until this morning, when my decision started to settle in me, and I realized, whatever, I'll make it work. 

That is the thing I always stick to when it comes to decisions like this: I will make it work. Because if it wasn't worth it, and I wasn't supposed to do it, it wouldn't be stuck on my heart like it has been.

See what I did was register for a conference - which is sounds so small, and silly, and very who cares, Rylee? Which I get, because you aren't me. And you don't have my very same big goals and big dreams, so that's totally fine.

Anyways, I'm saved my seat for the Creative at Heart conference in Memphis. Again, if you don't have the same lofty goals as me, or a heart that beats for purposeful, love-filled, detail-heavy, weddings - then this probably is no big deal. But in some big I've-made-a-big-scary-choice-like-that-before way, you get it, right?

But backing up a bit - I just have to keep telling myself that I'll make it work. And I will, I know I will. It'll be after Miss America. It will be in a month with no weddings on the books. It'll be the perfect time to take three days to take a deep breath. Yes, truthfully, I'm (obviously) making less money now than when I actually worked full time. And yes, it's a good thing my parent's are always happy to feed me. And yes, maybe this will make my savings a little smaller.

I'll make it work though, because it is worth it. Because the idea of cultivating ideas, plans, advice, and knowledge for myself as a creative professional has been too big on my heart to just let this go.

Even though it kinda scares the crap out of me to think I'll be surrounded by women who's work I totally admire, and here I am in the tee-ball version of what I'm dreaming of. It is the good kind though - the good kind of having the crap scared out of you. Like, it is the kind of scared that says, you're scared because this is a big purposeful move, not because it is the wrong move. 

And I think that's good.

Anyways, if you're thinking about taking some big leaps. If you're feeling a big choice sitting on your heart. Or maybe you've just been waiting to take the plunge and it will never be the perfect time. Well, I think you should do it. Take the big leap, make the choice, choose now or never. I don't know about your big dreams and big plans, but I know they're worth it.

Weeks Eight, Nine & Ten

You might be thinking, wow Rylee really let those weekly updates drop off quick. And you'd be right, because I'm wildly busy. But here I am, coming at ya with a big ol' update. Settle in.

Where did we leave off? Oh yes, Miss America Orientation.

After rolling back into Burlington, doing something like 8 loads of laundry, scrubbing my apartment down, and entertaining the idea of sleeping I was so lucky to head to the Vermont Lake Monsters throw out a first pitch. (Well, technically it was the 3rd of 8, because that's how the Lake Monsters roll. But still.) It also happened to be Princess & Superheroes Night at the Ballpark, and you guys know I love a good princess bash.

The next day, I made it to Lyndonville for another parade - in the middle of July? Yes. It was great having an "off season" parade is always fun because people love to come out for a tradition like this that most towns don't celebrate.

Then it was Miss America lottery night - and that means very little now. But, I will use this as my opportunity to say please go here: http://missamerica.org/vote/ and vote for me. Because being the first Miss Vermont to be in the top 15 would literally be a dream come true. 

Up next was a long trip down to Manchester, Vermont (a first for me,) for the Komen Race for the Cure 5k/10k. Not only was this such a generously welcoming group of volunteers and participants, we broke records for the event (fundraising and participation!) and I got to run another 5k. Bonus points if you ask Tam about this event - seriously, because I've sat through that story something like 45 times

The very following day was a double header - judging the talent show for Lamoille County Field Days, and the send-off party for my sweet teen. At both events I got lots of amazing hugs. And and and I got a surprise visit from our Miracle Kid, Eleanor! 

And to round out a clearly full weekend, I spent the next day at the CMNH Golf Classic (conveniently in my backyard, thankfully.) The weather was not superb, but I have to say a huge thanks to Sara for driving me around all day as we gathered donations. 

After a crazy week of work, sponsor meetings, and teaching Pure Barre. I made the trip down to Greenwich, Connecticut to buff up on some new Pure Barre moves...and enjoy my first experience with food poisoning. It was awful. And it is my entire reasoning that my second first pitch with the Vermont Lake Monsters did not go as planned. (It was fine, but not great. And being that I had one hour of sleep under my belt, it could have been so much worse.) The best part though? I got to see Miss Margaret - a wonderful, generous, insanely kind Miss Vermont volunteer!

And just a few days later? I was skipping down to Orlando the hang with my Miss America sisters, spend a whole 13 hours in the Magic Kingdom, and of course, support Alex at Miss America's Outstanding Teen!

Also, just this, dream come true

And yes, as soon as we got back from Orlando, we hit the ground running, again. More on that next Tuesday, promise. A 3 week update is much easier than a 6 week update.

Try Back Later

Remember when I said we would talk more about why I chose my platform and what that life is like? Right. About that. Well, like I've noticed before, and like I imagine I'll continue to notice - it is so much harder to talk about the hard parts, when you're in the hard parts.

I think I've said that before, that the time to talk about what it means to struggle with good mental health isn't when it's hard - it's when it's not.

Well, sometimes you gotta do both.

I'm one of those walking examples of everything looks awesome, but some days are very hard. And sometimes you just cry at that dumb Dan & Shay song, and really you only want to eat chips and guac, and you have to be very very nice to yourself because occasionally your brain is unkind. Lots of no Rylee, you're not fat, going on in these parts over the last few days. Hashtag true life. 

Lucky me though, because I'm also a walking example of you can live through this. 

You know what I mean, right? It's like I could sit here and probably write for three hours on how things have been so much harder in the last two weeks. But I'm just as able to talk about how I know there is another side to this. I know what life looks like when it's not this shade of difficult.

I don't have a lot to say right now, because I don't want to sit here for three hours and detail the crappy feelings and kinda how the loneliness that has been hanging out in my back pocket is the size of Harambe. Also mostly because I don't want to sit around and talk about it right now.

Later, when it's easier again.

But here's the point: we talk about it anyways.  

Because it happens, it is real, and it is not my whole identity. We talk about it because it matters. We talk about it because someone else is listening. We talk about it to remind ourselves that there are better days. We talk about it, and we move through it. And we keep pushing for another tomorrow.

...When there may or may not be an actual weekly update. Who knows. 

Just, Thanks

I'm not super good at asking for help.

By which I mean, I'm always willing to struggle while I stubbornly attempt to do things myself. And if help is offered I usually deflect/sarcastically reject/or act like I've got it covered.

However, I've never done this before. This Miss Vermont thing.

I've never been stretched this thin. I haven't ever been this busy, this constantly. I haven't ever worked this little, and needed so much. I have never done this before.

And that means I need help.

I need people who help me decide the most appropriate dress to wear. I need people to buy my groceries. I need people to help me schedule events. I need people to help me prepare for Miss America. I need people to help me pack, shop, learn, drive, workout, cook, pay for things, travel, work, and live.

I need help, all the time. And that has been so hard.

It has been so hard for me to ask for that help. Maybe even harder for me to accept that help when people are freely giving it.

It's not that I don't want help. I so do. It is just that I also know how quickly all those things pile up. I know how easily that becomes way too much. I know that those things are expensive, tiring, and they take time and effort. I know that living this crazy life was my choice. 

Maybe that's the biggest part - I chose this for myself. I never asked that anyone else fit this in their life. It brings me heaps of guilt to put all that work, effort, cost, and exhaustion, potentially on someone else.

But I need the help.

That's been the newest challenge. I say new, but it's been two months. Accepting help. Asking for help. Knowing when people genuinely want to help, and don't want you to feel bad about accepting their pure generosity.

I'm hoping I get through this weird place of not wanting to trouble people with my life pretty soon.

Because the help? It is lifesaving.

I so mean that. If you have bought me food, driven with me, given me clothes, responded to my texts, gone anywhere with me, hugged me, or otherwise done something that was truly for my benefit - thank you. From the deepest, sappiest, most sincere place in my heart, thank you.

If though, I've said: no thank you, I got it, don't worry about it, it's fine, or any variation of me attempting to make your helping me easier on you, I'm sorry. I'm working on it.

By no means am I some martyr, who thinks she can do this all on her own. I'm not. I'm so not. I'm just not used to this new part of my life - of this needing so much. And well, it kicks your anxiety in to high gear. The help helps. Every time I accept more help, and every time I ask for more help, I hope that it gets a little easier to do it again.

Because y'all are making such a difference in my life.