Thursday, March 6, 2008

A recap

As many people know, this past weekend was the Miss Lynchburg pageant. I didn’t write about it before because I was too focused on getting ready for it. Writing about it afterwards is difficult.

This was my tenth pageant this year. Living in Lynchburg, when I knew that I was going to compete there, I was really excited about the opportunities for the winner. I already feel so connected to this community, as a girl scout leader, employee in a local law firm, intern at a domestic violence shelter, and a member of the R-MWC community. I know this town, I know the people here, and I would have been honored to represent it all.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards. After my tenth attempt, I was first runner up. I supposed I should consider changing my life motto to “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” because that has certainly described my experience this year. Of course, many would say that competing so much has improved my self-esteem- and it has. But that easily cracks apart when pageant after pageant sets of judges have decided that I’m close but not quite there. It is both frustrating and disappointing that all my hard work just hasn’t paid off.

This is not to say that I am not grateful for all the wonderful opportunities and scholarship money that has come my way this last year. I spent my entire junior year abroad in another country, and competed in my first pageant only three weeks after moving back to the United States. I have come a long way.

Knowing that, however, means that I felt a slew of emotions on Sunday afternoon when my name was called as first runner up. Just like every other pageant, I wonder “what could I have done differently?” The winner was deserving, as usual, but why does it seems like I have to work and work and work and still never get there? I have two months until graduation from college, and I haven’t spent any time with my friends this year. I’m either working, competing at a pageant, or getting ready in some way for a pageant. I wouldn’t change that, but I almost wish I had known ahead of time that it just wasn’t going to happen for me; I have sacrificed all my time and energy and come so close.

It was a bitter loss to be in Lynchburg with my friends and bosses there, as well as members of my academic community, including my Dean of Students and Residence Life Director. There is something special about Randolph-Macon- everyone supports you. I certainly felt that because they cheered for me the entire pageant long and swarmed me on stage. It is devastating to lose a pageant in a community I have lived in since 2004 and truly loved.

On the bright side, I have met a whole new group of friends. I can honestly say that I know nearly every woman competing at Miss Virginia this year, and all of them are outstanding. I really wish them the best of luck, because they have become friends that I look forward to seeing and enjoy spending time with.

Once the pageant was over, I held my composure. I warned my friends that if things went badly, I would be upset, largely because this was my last opportunity to get to Miss Virginia. I was fine until I saw Madison Van Duyne, the first contestant I met in Virginia who truly is an amazing young woman with a great family. I bumped into mothers, directors, contestants, and volunteers that I have seen all year long, and all of them encouraged me and told me not to give up. For that, I am thankful. When I saw Madison, I just started crying. All the emotions I was feeling just swelled up into tears. I’m upset with myself that I lost my cool, because I in no way wanted the new winner, Sarah Fitzpatrick, to feel like I thought she didn’t deserve it. I was simply feeling the emotions that have followed me since I started competing months ago: disappointment, frustration, sadness. It takes an incredible amount of confidence to keep doing this, and for someone who doesn’t consider herself a “pageant girl” it is so easily lost in those few moments where it finally hits you that “it’s just not going to happen”. I have come close and placed in pageants this year 8 times. And each time I was upset for a day, then got back on track and worked even harder. Knowing that Miss Lynchburg was the last title this year to win just really brought me down.

That said, I am extremely grateful for the outpouring of support I have received all year long and especially after this pageant. I truly could not have come as far as I did without all the help, kind words, honest truths, and hugs backstage. Any young woman in Virginia who is eligible to compete should consider competing in these pageants- it sounds cliché, but it will really change your life.

I could never hope to thank every person who has made a difference this year from directors offering helpful words to the group of RMWC alums who has always made me feel like family, to my on and off campus employers who have patiently given me time off and boosted my confidence to my group of friends who have set through endless pageants and waited anxiously to hear how I did. I could never thank my Ohio support team or my mother or boyfriend, who have done everything from obtaining my pantyhose at the last minute to convincing me to keep going. There is simply no way that I would have done all that I have without the constant belief in me from other people.

As for me, my middle name may as well be determination. I’m not done yet. I have two years left after this one (thanks for making sure I was born on January 4 instead of December 29 as planned, Mom) and I simply refuse to give up. I have gotten so much out of this experience and I have come so close that I know I can do this.

You will see me soon J

2 comments:

Megan Wombacker said...

Laura,
I just happened to check your blog before bed tonight.
First, I want to commend you for all that you have accomplished this year. The Miss VA pageant really missed out on you.
I know how it feels to give your life to the pageants and not get anything back...I competed for three years before I won my local title. You truly have the determination and persistance to succeed in the Miss America system. Do not feel bad about breaking down at the pageant...it shows that you have heart and that you really love what you are doing.

If you ever need anything...please let me know. I wish you the BEST of luck...because you DESERVE this.

"Don't give up on something you can't go a day without thinking about."

Your pageant friend,
Megan =)

M said...

Laura,

First of all I must say, you are one of the most compassionate, gracious, and intelligent young women I have ever met, and it has been such a pleasure getting to know you. I have all the confidence in the world in you and I know you will make it to that state stage. If you never fall, you will never know how it feels to get back up. Resolve and determination are important qualities in a local Miss but NECESSARY in a state titleholder. Keep your spirits up and when you're feeling down just remember how much you've chipped away at those student loans this year. :-)