It was a June evening, I was watching Miss USA with mom. I started to itch. My body was yearning to do what they were doing. My mind was aching to be challenged. My heart needed a new goal. I wanted something to keep me busy and working hard. I got my laptop out and searched how to do it. I looked over at mom and said, “I am going to apply to compete in Miss Kansas USA.” And so I did that very night.
A few days later, I found out I was accepted.
Then shortly after, I found out I was going to have to come up with a little over $1,000 to compete. That’s when I started to retreat and go back to my old ways of thinking that I probably couldn’t come up with that kind of money. Maybe I shouldn’t compete after all. Then I reminded myself of the other times I thought that to myself and let great opportunities pass by me. I remembered I didn’t like that feeling and that I still dislike that I have let it happen before. So I sucked it up and told myself I would find a way to make it happen. That’s just all there was to it.
So I brainstormed.
I wanted to get creative. I wanted to use my strengths and things I liked to do. I wanted to get family, friends, and the community involved. This was going to be a team effort. So I started contacting and I started pitching ideas. Before I knew it, I was hosting a party at Chicago’s as a fundraiser and holding workshops for little girls at my old dance and gymnastics studio. Just those too events alone gave me over $900. With the help of family, friends, and others that believed in me near and far, I was able to raise over $3,000. I had surpassed my initial goal.
During the 6 months of prep work, I went through a breakup, a period of sadness, burned a friendship, and felt self-conscious of being looked at as a hypocrite for competing. For a while, I went out to lunch and dinner by myself a lot. My weekends were spent by myself and at the gym. But I kept reminding myself that is where I needed to be. I went from having a social life weekend and weekend out to sitting alone at Chick-Fil-A on a Saturday night, makeup-less, in sweats, and feeling a tad lonely. It was an adjustment.
I feared what people would think of me competing in a pageant. Shortly after Miss America aired, a video came out from a show that picked apart the organization and the Miss USA organization in the most negative ways. I had spent the last four years creating and building an organization that promoted natural beauty and loving yourself the way you are, but I kept reminding myself of how I was using the meaning of BUILD and applying it to the situation I was going through. In my heart, I knew it could apply to this journey, but I didn’t know if it would be interpreted the same way to others.
I AM THAT GIRL
Then the book, I AM THAT GIRL by Alexis Jones came into my life and made it all better. It arrived just in time and I read it and finished it the week of the pageant. It assured me of what I was doing and I applied things I learned from it right away. I recommend this book to any and every girl out there.
“That said, if you want a how-to guide on ‘fixing’ you, I’m not your girl and this isn’t your book. I don’t think you need to be fixed. This isn’t some self-help book where I’m going to promise that rainbows and puppies will replace your cloudy days or help you get your dream guy, dream body, or dream job. I’m not going to convince you that something is wrong with you, and then try to sell you ‘my patented formula’ to cure it. And even if I could wave a magic wand and make all your problems go away, I wouldn’t. Because living a ‘perfect’ life is like watching television in black and white: you take out all the color. We need the adventure, all of the highs and lows, the unexpected heartbreaks, the ecstasy, the challenges, and the sweet, smooth sailing. Life is not about picking out the parts you like and leaving the rest, it’s learning to coexist with it all and choosing to see the beauty, the grace, and the hilarity while also experiencing the inevitable disappointment and failure.” – Introduction, xvii, I AM THAT GIRL
This book was a great reminder to always live fully and chase your dreams. It also included quotes sprinkled throughout the book and had one of my favorites by Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I was taking a shot at being crowned Miss Kansas USA. I was “paying to be judged” as someone told me. I was setting myself up for rejection. But even though I wasn’t crowned, I learned and gained so much from this experience that it was hard to be disappointed.
Things I learned and gained
How to diet and exercise
Lost over 10lbs
Pushed myself in different ways to raise money
I’ve never been more beautiful and confident in myself. And I didn’t need a boy to validate it or win the crown to feel it
Proved that I can achieve things when I put my mind to it
Realized how willing people want to help out if you just ask
Stepped out of my comfort zone
Competed in my swimsuit (a feat others said they probably could never do!)
Learned more girly things in life
Met other beautiful women doing amazing things
Made new friends
It was an experience I will never forget. It was a jam-packed three days. I was surprised and refreshed that most of these girls experience a lot of the same experiences and insecurities. I saw scars and flaws. I met genuine girls. I saw girls skip desert. I saw plastic surgery. I saw disappointment. I felt disappointment. I complimented a lot. I listened to stories. I saw cliques. I saw tears. I saw a lot of glitter. I felt butt glue. My feet hurt and others did too. I walked with confidence. I saw a lot of makeup. I wore a lot of makeup. Extensions were common. I was in heels a lot. We slept little. There were late nights and early mornings. A lot of nerves too. I heard deep breaths. I had an awesome roommate. There were numbers exchanged. A lot of pictures were taken. It was filled with positives and negatives that made the experience as beautiful as it was; full of color. Something I will hold dearly.
I think I will continue to say thank you to others for this experience for a long time. I seriously would not be able to compete and do it as confidently as I did without the people that supported me. Whether it was letting me throw a party at your bar, donating, sending me words of encouragement, it all helped tremendously. It was a team effort for sure and I couldn’t thank “my crew” enough.
Thank you to —
My Chicago’s family for being so helpful and easy to work with for my “Party for a Pageant” event
Susan Byrd for letting me put on the workshops at Byrd’s Dance and Gymnastics
Kenna Boggs for my beautiful headshots
Emporia State University for shooting the ad for the program and showering me with support
Greg Farris (MyoBrain) for working with my diet and fitness plans for months, the tough love, and the support when I was frustrated or feeling weak
Nicole Woods for making my workouts extra fun, the signature sheets, good morning texts, and a beautiful friendship
Julia Glenn for being a great pageant companion, helping me out through the process, and exchanging ideas and support
Jonathan Krueger for skyping me for a couple hours explaining ISIS and the Ukraine situations, providing resources, pushing me to keep up on current events, interview advice, and the importance of that aspect of the competition
Jade Sparks for the walking lessons and pageant advice
Mom and Dad for the love and support, working with my diet (endless salads!), and the help throughout the process
My Stister, Karrie, for being my PR lady, the advice, support, love, screams from the audience, and the cold Dr. Pepper waiting in the car for me afterward
My bro-in-law, Devan for helping out pageant weekend
Little Miss Grace for helping me practice, the handwritten notes, good luck texts, screams from the audience, and faith in me
My brother for the support and throwing a watch party
My coach, Jessica Eisman, for going to endless places with me, helping me pick out all my outfits, spending hours with me prepping, and all the encouraging talks, reminders, and texts
Aunt Karen for being there in case I needed anything, love, and support
Anna and Kirsten, my forever roomies, for listening to me vent, pick me up when I was down, and being the amazing friends that they are
All the great customer service at the numerous places and stores I went to
All my family and friends that donated, shared my information on social media, sent me good lucks texts, snaps, FB posts, words of encouragement, and more.
I am a lucky lady with positivity coming from all over the country. I have been overwhelmed with love and support in the best way.
American Family Insurance – David Lawson
Byrd’s Dance and Gymnastics
Dig It Deep Publishing
Emporia State University
Kenna Boggs Photography, LLC
Loud and Clear
Nails So Happy
Family and Friends
Yesterday, a lot of us girls were adding each other on all kinds of social media outlets, “liking” each others pictures, texting each other, posting on each others walls; filling each other with positivity. I am thrilled to have made new friends and be a part of this little community of women.
After reading the book and living out this experience, I definitely feel like I AM THAT GIRL. I feel confident and cherish both the ups and downs that come with my experiences. Now I am not as afraid to dream big and challenge myself.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I can now say I lived as a pageant girl and competed in Miss Kansas USA.
So what’s next?
I’ve been indulging on food and drinks I had cut down on. I plan on catching up with friends and family. I am going to pick up the job search once again. I already have a next adventure in mind that I am going to apply for. I am hungry for my next great challenge and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Miss Kansas City USA 2015