Many of you followed along on Instagram and Facebook as I explained that I decided to jump into the Mrs. Utah United States pageant last month, just 9 days before the pageant! It was the scariest thing I've ever done, but I'm so glad I did! To answer all your questions I decided to do this 2-part post series to give all the details about WHY I did it, HOW I did, and most importantly, the DREAM TEAM that helped me pull it off!
First up is PART 1 to tell the story (that I've kept secret from all of you until now) about why this was an important fear to overcome. Read PART 2 for details on my dress, makeup, hair, and all the fun, sparkly, glitzy stuff! Enjoy 🙂
Have you ever had one of those experiences where you are so scared and intimidated by something, that you overcompensate by diving in head-first with reckless abandon? No?
I think back on cliff jumping as a teenager in Oregon. I would act all tough and cool, until we graduated to the 35 footer that had me about wetting myself. There's an annoying part of my personality that gets very curious. “I wonder what it would be like…” “…I wonder if I could…” “…Would I regret it if I didn't do it?…” The next thing I know I find myself, terrified, standing on the edge of the cliff. Some people count to three before getting the guts to jump in the river below, some people need to be coaxed by their friends. Some need an element of competition or reward, or need to know every detail about the experience before taking the plunge. For me? I just have to jump. To not think about it, just close my eyes and do it suddenly before I psych myself out.
I jumped off a cliff the other Saturday.
Only figuratively, of course. But it was definitely a 35-footer. Maybe even a 50-footer.
I did a pageant in high school (when I was 15) and, to date, it was one of the most traumatizing experiences of my life. If any of you attended my Bright Night Event class last year, you know the full story. In a nutshell…I cried on stage, cried in the interview, stumbled, humiliated myself, and did horrifically. It was baaaaaad. But that annoying part of my brain taunted, “but…what if you did it again? I'm sure you'll do better next time! You just need to change this, or tweak that and BAM! You'll win for sure!” Well, 3 tries later the only thing I walked away with was a complete lack of confidence, and an eating disorder. It was short-lived, thank goodness, but it was an eating disorder nonetheless. I lost all sense of who I was…all because I put so much weight and importance on trying to be exactly who I thought a random panel of judges wanted me to be.
Thanks to several years of growing up, good friends, my religion, and meeting an incredible man named Bubba, I rediscovered my self-worth and confidence in college and have never looked back.
A big part of finding my confidence again was going to India to work in Leprosy colonies when I was 20. Talk about getting a refresh on perspective!
I found so much beauty and contentment from a group of people who had been exiled because of something wrong with their bodies.
…Yet, they were so happy with so little. It changed me as a person and lit a fire within me that hasn't dimmed since! (And yes, that is how we got my daughter's Indian name, Priya!)
I can now say with confidence that I know exactly who I am, where I am going, why I am here, and that I'm happy to be ME! I feel such purpose and responsibility, having a blog that women all over the world look to for advice and inspiration. It's helped me find the balance between being open-minded and engaged, without changing a drop of who I am to appease someone else. I've never been happier, and never had so much magic in my life as a result.
Long story short, one of my besties Tiffany (who entered the Mrs Utah United States pageant a week before the pageant and won in 2011!) called me 10 days before the pageant and told me I NEEDED to do it. I said NO because of the obvious reasons…“I have no idea what I'm doing”…”I'm horrible at pageants”…”they aren't my ‘thing'”…”It's so expensive to enter, it would be a waste if I didn't win”…”I haven't practiced”…”I don't have a dress”…”I'm not in the best shape”…”my legs are all scarred”…
As my mind was racing with all the “scary” stuff, I found this cute notebook in TJ Maxx that stopped me in my tracks:
So. Stinking. True.
I caught myself giving all the scared, self-conscious excuses, shut them out, and started thinking about the POSITIVES. “…but it could be really fun”…”it could help me get my “New Frugal” message to the world”…”could help open doors”…”I wonder how I'd do, now that I know how to be ME.”
My hubby wasn't excited initially, because he knows how damaged I was from doing the pageant in high school. After talking it through, sleeping on it, and praying about it, we both felt like it could be a great opportunity to A) conquer a major fear of mine and put the past behind me, and B) open some doors that could help me get my message to the world even more. I had some blog money set aside and decided it was worth the “investment”. My one condition is that I wouldn't tell a soul (including my own mother) until AFTER the pageant, to spare myself potential humiliation.
I called the pageant director the next morning and decided to go for it. Over the next week past fears and anxieties would creep in, but I learned to breathe them out. As I prepared for the interview, swimsuit section (YIKES!), evening gown, opening number, or whatever, I would breathe out the insecurities and breathe in…well…ME. I would clear my head and push out all the negative voices, and concentrate on just being me, and focusing on what I believe, know for sure, and am confident in. Because let's be honest, at the end of the day, I'm no mind reader! I have no idea what the judges “want” so I can only be MYSELF and if that's what they want, then that's what they want!
Eventually I realized that by keeping it a secret, I was only letting “the voices” win. I decided that yes, it's a pageant, and people have very strong opinions about them. But I was doing it for my own personal reasons, and it didn't really matter what anyone else thought…I have nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of! So I decided to share with all of you (and my family, which was even more intimidating since they saw the trauma it caused as a teenager). My heart was literally pounding as I was typing the announcement on Instagram, partially nervous about the pressure of performing well now that the whole world knew, and also scared of backlash or negative comments, since I didn't want anything getting inside my head. My heart MELTED when the outpouring of love and encouragement came flooding in! It affected me (positively) more than you'll ever know.
I don't have the best pageant walk, and I certainly have no idea how to stand (we all joked about it, actually. I'm a bit like a newborn giraffe!). Heaven knows my legs aren't very swimsuit ready thanks to all my varicose vein issues. But I tried to let my personality and confidence shine through regardless. I guess it worked because…
I got first runner up, got first place in Interview, and had a great time!
Just goes to show that the only way to “win” is to be yourself (as cheesy as it sounds), because otherwise you'll get whiplash trying to be what you think everyone else wants you to be. For anyone who has a fear from their past, I encourage you to overcome it! Sure, I didn't win (and I really really would've loved to). But I'm truly proud of myself, and I'm so glad I did it.