Pageant Szn is Coming

I love this time of year.

Why? Because the Miss America state pageant classes are just filling out.

Seriously.

It's this time of year that the final winter locals are held, girls find their state dresses, and talent selections are made.


Obviously, that ship has sailed in my life. But funnily enough I still get questions - probably once or twice a week - about what my life was like then, or more often, why I chose that life for myself. 

I know, we see these posts all the time. Why Miss America? Yes, we saw them even more so after we felt like we had to defend our why. But this time of the year just leaves me all excited and giddy for the girls that are embarking on this for the very first time.

So I thought, if there are any of you out there that are brand new to this, or maybe still toying with the idea of joining us in this wackadoo-sisterhood-of-greatness, I'd share my why one more time.

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One of the things I got asked the most during my year as Miss Vermont, and my years competing was, what made you get into pageants in the first place? 


I used to say that I was looking for something to join, to bring me out of my plateau, to give me...well, something to work towards. And that was true.

But I think I really put words to it when I started to say, I saw girls in parades who looked like me, who looked like they came from, where I came from. And those were the girls that were also making a difference. And that was even more true.

I was a sophomore in college who didn't have hobbies, didn't have fitness goals, wasn't in clubs, wasn't branching out. I was just, there. And to be 100% transparent, I issued my first attempt at competition as a challenge to myself.

It was like nothing I had ever done before. I wasn't in talent shows growing up. I didn't ever seek out the spotlight. I wasn't particularly girly or glamourous. And I certainly wasn't considered outgoing.

But I wanted something new. 

So I committed to the Vermont titleholder development program in November of that year, and in May I competed.

And I'll tell you what, I thought I was going to feel lost, and dwarfed, and incapable, and like how would I ever measure up to these seasoned pros? I just...didn't.

The Miss America program as a whole - and particularly the Miss Vermont Organization - are centered entirely around helping young women develop in a way that allows them to access their full potential in every part of their life. That alone fostered the ability in me to get my butt on that stage.

And place 3rd Runner Up in my first pageant ever. 


That was in 2012, and since then a lot has happened in my MAO journey. (For those that are just joining us, I was 3rd RU in 2012, 3rd RU in 2013, won Miss Auburn [NH] in 2014, 2nd RU and overall interview winner in 2014 [NH], and won Miss Vermont in 2016.)

But truly, I love the way that I came into this program, and I love that I did it at all.

Because when I started I didn't have a talent, I had very little service work under my belt, I could barely run a mile, and I was not the girl who thrived in interview.

Today? I still can't sing. Shocker. I have dedicated the last few years of my life to serving others. I have run two half marathons, two 10ks, and almost a dozen 5ks. And every single thing that I have done professionally, I owe to the hundreds of interviews I did within MAO.

Fun fact: for the job I have right now, I had two interviews. The first one happened less than 20 minutes after I completely passed out while donating blood. The second, the morning of a wake for my grandpa. 


I would not have thrived, let alone functioned, in those interviews if not for all of the interviews, all of the development, and all of the self-reflection and growth that came from being in the Miss America Organization.

And I feel like every year we get to this point, and we all have that one (or five, whatever) girl that we're dying to see compete. So we talk to them, try to convince them, and they all have two things that they say: I don't have a talent, or I don't have a platform.

Sister, let me be the proof in the pudding, the program will lead you, you only have to be willing to get in.

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One of the things I always say when it comes to why + talent, is if you want it, you'll stop saying you don't have a talent.

Listen, I can't dance. Anyone who has ever been forced to do group choreography with me will tell you I cannot dance.

In fact, originally our group at Miss America was supposed to do this complicated beautiful dance in the filmed opening number on the boardwalk. Well, they ended up sticking us in bumper cars. To. This. Day. I think my piss poor dancing skills influenced that decision.


And I certainly cannot sing. Although, anyone who has ever been forced to be in rehearsals with me will tell you that certainly doesn't stop me from trying.

But I found something I was passionate about (reading, and the written word,) and I found my talent.

Your talent is the part that shows the judges you know how to work. It shows them you have the dedication to practice something. It shows them you are committed to learning something. And it shows them that you can get joy out of those things.

It shouldn't really be something that just comes so easily to you that 90 seconds on that stage doesn't freak you out.

And yes, there are more talents than singing and dancing. (Piano, speed painting, spoken word poetry, monologues, gymnastics, science, karate, flute, violin, twirling, skating, fencing, ventriloquism, sign language, hula, and harp. And also maybe a 1000 more.)


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And then, there's the second part of that: why + platform. 

Which, I get. Coming into an organization where some girls already had decades of service work on their resumes was terrifying.

But here's the thing, service and platform work is about the heart you put into it.

Time matters, yes. But the why behind your platform, the why behind the hours you put into it - that matters far more. Because when we talk about our why in the Miss America Organization, it is never us.

Did I get into this because I wanted to try something new? Totally. But that is sure as hell not why I stayed.

I stayed because of the opportunities to serve others. I stayed because of the sisterhood. I stayed because I knew that if I kept going, I was going to keep getting chances to change things for other people. I stayed because my why became, look what I can do for others through this program. 


So, yes, my platform changed since I started. Yes, I totally thought I was coming in dead last when it came to service hours.

My platform became a piece of who I am every day - and then, well, it is much harder to fit on your resume, but it is a heck of a lot easier to say what you're about.

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So, circling back: why did I make this part of life, and where does it stand in my life now?

I got into it on a whim, and committed to it because I saw in one six month period how drastically different my life was because of the program.

The Miss America Organization afforded me the opportunity to get dream jobs, to meet people, to go places, to serve others, to grow in a community, and to be completely college debt-free before my 25th birthday.

The state level pageants are what really counts for 90% of the girls that are involved in MAO. And thank goodness for that. Because it is the volunteerism, the selflessness, the community, and the downright love at the local and state level that makes the difference.


I know that I would not have had the success that I had as Miss Vermont, or in the Miss Vermont Organization, were it not for the people that donated their time, their efforts, their things, their money, and their love to the cause.

So, where does it stand now?

Well, I'm outta the game, for sure.

I don't have much involvement on the state level at all right now, truthfully. By choice, 100%. I work full time, and for some personal reasons I felt as though I needed to step pretty far back.

But both programs still hold such a wonderful place in my heart.

So I still answer the questions as they come, and I'll always still help those that reach out. Because if nothing else, I would just love if everyone got the chance to see how...how different your life is once you challenge yourself to be part of The Miss America Organization.


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