Proud Pageant Girl

Unfortunately, many people today still have a negative impression of “pageant girls.”

As a proud young woman who competes in pageants, I am here to explain why I compete and the positive impact pageants have had on my life.

 

I competed in my first pageant when I was 18 years old – much older than many girls who compete in pageants. I had no idea what I was doing or what to expect. When I got to pageant weekend, I loved the way that the other young women empowered each other and worked together to help each and every contestant succeed.

 

As I continued to compete, I became more and more comfortable on stage. My parents could see a positive change in my self-confidence and the way that I carried myself on stage. I could see this positive impact in myself too. I loved the way that pageants pushed me out of my comfort zone, making me speak in front of others and presenting myself with confidence on stage and in interviews.

 

The third time I competed, I won a title. I was so excited to see what the crown and sash could do for me. But more importantly, I was excited to see what I could do for my community with the crown and sash. I have made appearances across my community since I won my title, and I have been working with my local chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation to raise awareness for an amazing cause.

 

I have seen the way that children look at me when I am wearing my crown and sash. I have seen the smiles on their faces when they get to try on my sash. And I have seen the hope in their eyes when I tell them to chase their dreams.

 

Some of the most inspiring young ladies I have met, I have met through pageants.

Almost every contestant I have ever met wants to win the crown and sash so that she can make a difference in her community.

I have been to pageant weekends and seen young women lift each other up, wish each other good luck, help a struggling contestant, and make lifelong friends.

 

I am, and always will be, a proud pageant girl.

 

“No beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart.” -unknown

Why Not Me?

Let’s set the stage: a 16-year-old junior in high school has just been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that has no cure. She has always had a fear of doctors and now her days are full of specialist visits and numerous medications.

If you haven’t figured out, that 16-year-old was me a little over three years ago. I’m 20 now, have been to more hospitals than I thought I would see in my entire lifetime, have endured multiple medical procedures, have tried countless medications, and have had more doctor’s appointments than I can even remember.

When I first got diagnosed, I was angry. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. I was constantly thinking, “Why me?”

Why did I, with a fear of doctors, wake up with an illness that I would never get rid of?

Why did I, at 16, have more doctor’s appointments than my parents?

Why did I, at 19, spend my birthday in a hospital room?

 

I still can’t say I truly understand why I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. But, as time went on, instead of asking, “Why me?” I started asking “Why NOT Me?”

I am lucky enough to live in a place with amazing care for my disease.

I am blessed with great health insurance that covers the medicines, procedures, and doctor’s appointments I need to stay healthy.

I have a family that ALWAYS has my back and supports me through this roller-coaster ride.

I have a boss that could not be more understanding of my situation and makes me feel loved every time I step into the building.

I am fortunate to have friends and sorority sisters who always have my back and do everything in their power to accommodate my needs and make me feel as “normal” as possible.

 

It’s been over three years since my diagnosis, and it’s definitely been a journey. I may have ulcerative colitis, but I am blessed in more ways than I can count. So, why not me?

 

“When you face difficult times, know that challenges are not sent to destroy you. They’re sent to promote, increase, and strengthen you.” – Joel Osteen

Let LOVE Shine

As I sat down to write my first blog post, writing about a horrifying terror event was not on my radar. But last night, my phone began buzzing and I saw the news about Manchester. I usually bite my tongue about these things, but today I cannot stay silent.

This event is personal to me. I’m a concert junkie, and I love the feeling of spending the night singing songs with hundreds of others. Concerts have always been a few hours of an “escape” from reality, where music takes over and just makes my worries fade away. I’ve met some amazing people at concerts and made more memories than I can count. Music is a therapy, an escape, and for that to be taken away by a terrorist attack, makes this personal.

It’s personal because at 16/17 years old, I was attending concerts with my best friends (sans parents), and this could have happened to me.

It’s personal because someone deliberately CHOSE to take the lives of others, and that does not sit well with me. My heart was filled with hurt and anger and sadness.

But as I continued reading the horrifying details of this attack, my hurt began turning to hope. Many teenagers were attending the concert alone and could not find their parents after the concert. Parents were trying to get in contact with their children. Hotels in Manchester began taking in children from the concert to give them a safe place to stay until they could be reunited with their families. The people of Manchester began using social media to help others find their loved ones. Residents of this beautiful city offered up their homes to allow people affected by this attack have a warm and safe place to stay.

The fact that this attack happened is awful, and nothing we can say or do will change this tragic event. But watching the people of Manchester rise up and help each other is incredible. Right after a terrorist attack, people were willing to invite strangers into their home to do everything they could for those affected. I saw some of the worst aspects of humanity, but I also saw some of the best. Even in the wake of tragedy, when we stand together, love ALWAYS wins.

 

“When you choose love over hate, faith over despair, and acceptance over intolerance, you are doing your part to change the world.” – Unknown