This is my third attempt at writing this. There is just so much I want to say and so much I want to share that nothing I’ve written seems to be able to capture it well enough. So disclaimer: this might be a little longer than usual!
When I started this journey it began as something new and different that would get me out of my comfort zone and allow me to live by my mantra of “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Soon enough, I realized that this journey was going to morph into something so much bigger than myself. I saw my hometown community of Titusville, FL rally behind me with an amount of love and support I could have never imagined. I saw my new community in South Florida push me forward every step of the way and I saw the love and support of all the networks of communities in between. It truly made me realize that throughout the years I have formed bonds and connections with people all over the state of Florida. It made me realize I really could be a true representative for Florida.
I went into this competition with the hopes of making all of these communities proud and use the crown to give back to the people who have selflessly given so much to me. I wanted to put Titusville back on the map and help as they try to rebuild a community still struggling to find an identity in their post-space program days. I wanted to be a bigger voice to be heard and bring more awareness to the organizations I’m proudly involved with via South Florida Ford such as Autism Speaks, Breast Cancer Awareness and Lung Cancer Research. Most importantly, I wanted those to be just the first two efforts of a year’s worth of giving back and using the power of the crown to bring attention to the issues my heart so strongly supports.
From last Tuesday until Saturday, I worked my butt off to learn dance routines, walking patterns, cues, and camera angles so I could bring my “A” game to my private interview and preliminary competition and hear my name called on finals night. On Saturday night, I was calm and at peace knowing that my name was either on that list or it wasn’t and that it was out of my hands. I was the 9th girl to be called down into the top 16 and from that moment on, the rest of the evening was complete organized chaos! We went right into answering on-stage questions, which I was so excited for. I love interviewing (as you guys have seen me hosting and interview for SFF countless times) so I knew I had it in the bag. Then, when it was finally my turn- I dropped the ball. Big time.
I gave the most butchered answer to the simplest of questions- one I had used before as a practice question! As I tried to recover, all I could hear in my head was the voice saying “you just lost the competition” over and over again. My heart sank as I finally turned around to walk back to my spot and I thought about all the people I had let down. I don’t bring this up for a pity party- I say this because that was just the beginning of the competition for me that night. I had to get myself together emotionally and mentally and put my game face back on for the swimsuit and evening gown segments. In that moment I experienced what it truly meant to live by one of my favorite life lessons “it doesn’t matter how hard you fall, as long as you get back up.” I went out and I rocked the swimsuit and had so much fun with it. Then for evening gown, I worked the stage and didn’t trip on my dress a single time! (I secretly had two stumbles in it the night before and tore the train in two places… proof that I’m not always as graceful as I look!) I stood among the top 16 as they made the announcement for top 5, knowing that no matter the outcome- I had made everyone proud and also silenced my inner critic.
My road to the crown did not continue into the top 5, but I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and lack of anxiety as I waited for the five names to be called. I knew that I had all of you with me in my heart who have supported me this entire way and grown with me through this journey. I had the love of so many people and so many cities from all over the country and the only thing I felt in that moment when my journey ended was complete gratitude. I felt not a second of sadness. I was left almost breathless as reality hit me and I was finally able to truly experience the magnitude of the support I was given.
There was a prize at the end but it wasn’t a crown. I didn’t know it at the time but I’ve had my prize all along.
Thank you for following me on my road to the crown and for being a part of this life changing journey with me.