Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Becoming Miss Empire Star - Part 1

Hello, everyone! I feel such an immense feeling of gratitude as I sit down to write this post. To be perfectly honest, I entered the Miss Empire Triple Crown feeling like I would never have this opportunity. I'd entered 4 pageants, with the chance to win 7 crowns, already this past pageant season: Miss Thousand Islands, Miss Flower City, Miss Finger Lakes/Upstate NY, Miss Syracuse/Salt City/Erie Canal. Each time, I was a runner-up. Each time, I made new friends, strengthened bonds with pageant sisters, and felt like I steadily became a better version of myself. But naturally, I began to feel disappointed. What was I doing wrong? As the last local pageant of the season approached, I didn't feel like being a Miss America titleholder was in my future. I even began to consider dropping out of the Empire pageant.

Then, this gem popped up in my Pinterest inbox, courtesy of the fabulous Shelby Cohen, the Co-Executive Director of the Miss Thousands Islands Pageant (my first local of the year). It was just what I needed to see. I decided to push on, to give this last pageant my all, and to have fun--regardless of results.

When I arrived in Albany on Friday night, I went to rehearsal feeling relaxed and ready to spend time with some of my favorite pageant girls. The nerves began to set in once I watched all of the ladies rehearsing perform their talents. Everyone was SO incredibly good at what they were doing. Everyone was SO kind and SO dedicated to their platform. The judges were going to have to make some very difficult decisions, and I didn't feel that it was going to be my weekend. And I felt surprisingly okay with that..and surprisingly relaxed. In my mind, the stakes were low--my chances of winning were slim, so I'd just enjoy being on stage and live in the moment.

Saturday was an incredibly busy day! I arrived at 10:30 to begin preparing for interview. The fun really got started as I settled in with the girls, put on my makeup, and got ready to be grilled by the judges (kidding!). I felt calm and relaxed throughout my entire interview. The judges asked a ton of questions about my platform, L8ER H8ER: Empowering Teens to Say Goodbye to Dating Violence. I am passionate about promoting this issue, and was able to handle the questions well and in a relaxed manner. I didn't feel stressed out, and when my ten minutes came to a close, I felt at peace with how my interview had gone.

The pageant began around 3 PM, with the usual rounds of competition: swimsuit, talent, evening gown, and on-stage question. It honestly seemed like nothing was going my way! I have a bright orange swimsuit that I considered to be fairly unique, which I purchased in an attempt to try and stand out on stage. Someone else had the same swimsuit (shout out to Yolanda, who rocked it!). My talent gown zipper broke backstage, and I had to perform with it practically unzipped (hope you didn't notice). My evening gown lost a ruffle backstage. And in spite of all of these things which would normally stress me out and make me crazy, I felt FINE. I was happy. I was having a blast with the other girls. And I was excited to go out and see who would be crowned the new Miss Empire Capital Region, Empire Star, and Empire Rose.

The eligibility for this pageant was complex, so results took a bit longer than usual. We laughed backstage, commiserated about the end of the pageant season, took our shoes off, and ate. Then, it was crowning time. They announced the runners-up first, and my name wasn't called. "Well," I thought to myself, "you may not have placed at your last pageant, but it has been an incredible year and a wonderful weekend."

Then, this happened. Can you tell how surprised I was to be named the new Miss Empire Star? I immediately burst into ugly tears (aptly named by Miss Flower City, Anneliese). I couldn't believe that on an imperfect weekend where I truly did not believe I would go home with a placement (let alone a title), I had won the opportunity to represent the Capital Region this year in the community and at Miss New York.

The shock is still there, but starting to wear off as a prepared for the year ahead. I am ready to get engaged in both the Albany community and my home community of Westchester, promote my platform, support the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, and get ready for the state pageant.

There is a Part 2 to this post that I'll be posting soon--a special thank you to everyone who has supported me on my pageant journey this year, and special shout outs to my pageant sisters. It's going to be a long one! Also, keep any eye out for a post full of pictures from the pageant. 

I look forward to sharing this new journey with you this year!


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