Not Yet Your Miss Vermont.

I know every "competing in a pageant" stereotype. From Miss Congeniality to Toddlers & Tiaras. I know them all well, as I was once a perpetuator of such stereotypes. I used to think that pageants were a terrible excuse to parade in front of people in gowns and makeup for the sake of one's self confidence.

I used to.

That was until I became a part of the Miss Vermont Scholarship Organization. That was before I became a person I had always wanted to be, through my participation in a pageant. By learning about myself, by setting goals, by surrounding myself with goal-oriented, positive, amazing people, I grew. I changed. And, at the end of it all, I competed (against only myself, the girls that I met, that became my Miss Vermont family, were not my competition, they were my support) to be Miss Vermont.

I didn't win. I didn't get the job.

I got something just as good though, I got hope.

I placed, I made top five, and ended up being the 3rd Runner Up! (In my first competition, EVER! Trust me, I'm still stunned.)

More importantly though, I am so thrilled to have done it, to have actually made that year commitment and done one of the single most rewarding things for myself, and for my future, that I could have ever dreamed of. Because of this I have realized that I can do this. I can do it again next year. I am capable enough. I am talented enough. I knew that I wanted to Miss Vermont, now I see that I can be Miss Vermont.

I am not, not yet. That doesn't mean I won't be. Maybe next year, maybe after that, or maybe I won't ever have a crown, maybe I will only ever be my own Miss Vermont. I know that, in my heart, I can only continue to do the best that I can. I will, and I will continue to grow, and I will continue to change, for the better, and with the help of everyone in my Miss Vermont family.

I love this organization. I love who I am because of this organization. And I love that I can stand up now, and finally say, yes, I have walked across a stage in my bathing suit in front of a couple hundred people- and I loved it.

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