It’s Sunday, and I’ve got another personal story to share with you all. It was the summer of my sophomore year of college and I was about to compete in my very first pageant: Miss Waco USA 2013. I had always wanted to compete in a pageant and the opportunity was finally here. Prior to entering I won a ” mock pageant” competition, and as a result I got my entry fee paid for. I found a dress that I loved (and could afford lol). I found a bathing suit, an interview dress, and practiced day and night in hopes of taking home the esteemed title. And for the most part, the only emotion that I could feel was excitement. Not a single nerve or feeling of self doubt crossed my mind…until I took a look at the contestants. Not only were they beautiful…but they were experienced. Some had even won several titles in the past. And the little voice of the enemy kicked in, whispering in my ear saying “Do you really think you have a chance against them?” And that question followed me until the day of the time we arrived at the Hilton hotel, the location of the pageant.
The morning of the competition the contestants went downstairs to check in and hear the welcoming speech. When I walked into the room, the contestants were reminiscing and reconnecting with one another. But I didn’t want to feel out of place, so I took upon myself to introduce myself to one of the contestants. I approached her with a big smile on my face and said “Hi, my name is Linda”. Barely looking at me, she said “Hey” and continued on her conversation with the more seasoned contestants. Thinking maybe I should try again, I said “I am so excited to compete today! Aren’t you?” She stopped in the middle of conversation and looked at me and said “Oh…you’re competing?”, as she looked me up and down as if I was apart of the hotel cleaning crew. I could never forget the tone of her voice. My big smile slowly left my face and I shyly responded “Yeah, it’s my first one”. She then looked at me once more and then turned back to her conversation where she showered the other girl with compliments and well wishes before the competition started. Being that she was a former title winner, I thought her comment would have crushed me. But surprisingly, it didn’t…it motivated me. Once the shock of her condescending remark went away, that excitement I felt in the very beginning slowly returned. I remember feeling every nerve that I had in my body disappear as she turned away from me. I immediately went back to my hotel room, fixed my hair and makeup, said a prayer, and embedded the crowning moment in my head as motivation. But in that moment, her doubt gave me all the motivation I really needed. In fact, I was glad I was competing against her, because she was a physical representation. She was a physical representation of the lies the enemy tried to sell to me regarding the competition. She was a representation of the naysayers who told me I was too skinny, not pretty enough, or didn’t have the “right look” to be successful in pageants. And she was a representation of the choice we have. Because in that moment, given her success in pageantry, I could easily taken her words to heart and given up before the competition even started. But instead I chose door #2. I chose to prove her wrong. And boy did I make the right choice. As frustrating as it may be, when people doubt you, you have to use it as an opportunity to thrive. Relish in it. Be inspired by it. Use it another reason to be great. Let it help motivate you to build a legacy bigger than you ever imagined. And as they’re spending their time doubting you, continue building. Build a platform of success so high that eventually a day will come where you can’t even see the naysayers….because you’ll be too high in your successes to notice them.
Unfortunately, I didn’t walk away with the crown that night. But I WAS of the last two standing and walked away from the competition as the first runner up. But that night I gained so much more than a bouquet of roses and congratulatory remarks. Not only did I gain the satisfaction of placing higher than Miss Doubty pants, lol, but more importantly, I gained an affinity for beauty, public speaking, and confidence. Qualities that were so fundamental in molding me into the woman I am today. And although her comment startled me at first, I am grateful for it. Because it forced me to believe in my greatest weapon…myself. My only hope is that next time, she’ll think twice before doubting her opponent. 😏