original post date - march 31, 2019 #CrownChasin - My First Pageant ​In my last blog post, I told y’all I was competing in a pageant and explained my platform and why I chose it. Well, the pageant has now passed and I want to talk about my experience as a whole and give a few tips for anyone who may consider doing one in the future. I also added some pictures from the night of the pageant add the end of this post if you'd like to see them. Now if you want to know whether or not I won the pageant, I didn’t. I walked away with the award for highest GPA, but I didn’t earn a crown or title. Initially, I was disappointed in myself for not winning because I know how much I wanted to use my platform to help people on campus and in the community, but it took time and the help of some friends and family to help me see what I did take away from the pageant. The first thing is the satisfaction that I did something that I never thought I could or would do. If you know me, then you know I’m a person that prefers to stay behind the scenes and mind their business, and doing a pageant feels like the exact opposite of that. I was so far out of my comfort zone that I didn’t have a choice but to work at being confident in this new place. Not only did I put myself out there when it came to raising money, I got on a stage in front of my family, friends, classmates and a bunch of people I didn’t know and showcased myself. I wore a swimsuit in public. Not on the beach, not on Instagram, not at a pool. Getting comfortable with this part of the pageant was one of the hardest things for me. I’ve told y’all before that my confidence in how I look fluctuates, so that mixed with the nerves that came from doing something so different from my norm was a big deal. I know I have a nice body and all, but showing it off in that sense initially felt embarrassing. The night of the dress rehearsal, I wanted nothing more than to get out of that swimsuit and put on real clothes, but when the day of the pageant actually got here, I just had to own the beautiful Black body I’ve been blessed with. There is no reason for me to ashamed to own the curves I do have, the stretch marks that come along with them, and the parts of me that jiggle when I move. I’m a real woman with a real body, and for that I’m proud. Another thing that was hard for me during this entire process was taking care of myself. I’m not going to lie to y’all. Over the last couple of my months my self-care has been nonexistent and my mental health has been in shambles. Between pageant practices, MCAT classes and studying, schoolwork, and a lot of other things I have going on, I haven’t had very much time for me. That’s why I’ve been fairly absent from posting blogs, and for that I apologize. I wanted to and knew I needed to, but I just didn’t have the mental energy and it wouldn’t be right for me to post something just for the sake of staying on my blog schedule. It was hard. As we got closer to the pageant, practices were longer and after I got out of practice I’d still have work to do, meaning there were several nights I was up past 3 and getting very little sleep. I felt (and still kinda feel) like I was running on empty and my body could give up on me at any second, but I kept pushing myself. I still struggle with telling people that I need breaks, so I was giving my all in practice while giving my all in classes and other things I do, so I didn’t have anything left to give to myself. My anxiety has gotten a lot worse this semester and sometimes it's harder to keep it together. All of my concerns and stress with life as a whole were just building and building because couldn’t find the time to sit and process anything. It built up until I became extremely overwhelmed and couldn’t handle it anymore. I didn’t really tell anybody this outside of one or two close friends, but I had an anxiety attack 3 days before the pageant and almost had two more the night before and day of the pageant. I still went to class, never missed a practice, and stayed on top of all my work even though I was basically running myself into the ground. This goes to show that you never really know what someone is going through even though they may seem like everything is fine. This is reason enough for me to be proud of myself for doing this pageant and doing as well as I did. In spite of the physical pain I was in and my overall exhaustion, I didn’t quit and for that I feel like I won even though I didn’t leave with a crown or title. Now let’s get into the tips. There aren't a lot of them, but here we go.

1) Manage your time wisely. Pageant practices are a lot, but life isn’t going to stop just because you decide to do a pageant. It just becomes another thing that you have to prioritize. You have the same 24 hours in a day that you had before committing to do the pageant, so adjustments will have to be made. Work still has to get done and life must go on. Just be sure to plan time to take care of yourself as well. Don’t be like me. 2) Literally everything costs money. Pageants are expensive and I was not ready to spend so much money. Initially, I thought the most important things I’d have to spend money on were my dress and my hair, and I was right, but there was so much more to take care of. Little things add up so fast. Be sure to account for everything you can from pieces for outfits to accessories to shoes to props to alterations and customization and gas money if you need to travel for these things. Just be prepared to spend some coin. 3) Encourage yourself. There were plenty of times during this process where my confidence wavered. I found myself slipping into places where I was criticizing every little thing I did or messed up on while comparing myself to the other girls in the pageant, and it did a number on me. Thankfully I have a great support system of family and friends that encouraged me along the way, but there were a lot of times I had to do it for myself. Constantly remind yourself that there is greatness in you and you don’t need a physical crown to be a queen. 4) Have fun. Even though pageants are competitive and there can only be one winner, focus more on the process than the title. You spend a lot of time with the other contestants and whatever organization is in charge of the pageant, so you might as well enjoy it! Challenges will come with working with so many people that have different personalities, but focusing on the camaraderie instead of the competition makes the process more enjoyable for everybody. I’m extremely grateful for my pageant experience. I’m proud of myself for sticking with my goal of stepping out of my comfort zone and I hope it inspires some of you to do the same. I don’t know if I’ll be doing anymore pageants in the future, but I hope me talking about my experience a little was helpful in some way. The experience was great for me, and now I really do understand what people were saying when they would tell me that it wasn’t all about the crown. My opinion on pageants has changed and this taught me how to be less focused on comparing myself to others, and that’s something I need to put into effect. It had its ups and downs, but this experience showed me I could jump out of my comfort zone and land on my feet instead of my face, which is a lesson I can apply to other areas of my life when the time arises. I walked away with more confidence and pride in myself than I started with and that’s what’s most important. Remember, I’m still rooting for you to live life, be great, and flourish too.

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