"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." -Walt Disney
This may be my favorite Walt Disney quote. To me, this quote stands the test of time and is a true testament to those who have seen their accomplishments come to life. And the journey of our lives, filled with accomplishments and failures, is what this blog is about.
There are many times in life that you may undercut yourself, or never expect to reach your goal, because there are unreasonable obstacles in your way. No matter what it is, there might be always an excuse to tell yourself, “You’re not going to get there.” This is the irrational reality I faced while pursuing my favorite hobby. Fresh to the game, I was not a seasoned pageant competitor in the land of pageantry, in the Super Bowl of pageantry – The Miss America Organization. It took a lot of courage and grit to get myself to even compete the first time, but I never gave up until I won my first local title in the Miss Georgia Organization. I won the very last title you could win for a pageant “fiscal year.” I competed at Miss Georgia, received talent awards, gained incredible friendships and mentors, and fell sick to the pageant bug. But as much as I worked harder to get better, I knew it would be tough to get to the ultimate goal – win the state title and compete at Miss America. It took dedication, time, a lot of money, and the right contacts to actually become the winning package. And I was far behind in terms of becoming a seasoned competitor. It helps to have gone through the circuit a few times. I was still very fresh, but I knew I had potential. As time went on, I realized that this goal of winning Miss Georgia may not come true. I told myself to give up before I even tried. I shifted my focus from winning Miss Georgia, to winning at getting a first job. I packed up my bags at home, and moved to Washington, DC.
As any millennial can tell you, getting a job in today’s day and age is pretty competitive. I walked into DC with absolutely no political experience whatsoever. I was fighting against the millennials who had done the summer internships, volunteered on a campaign, or just completed their degree at some major Ivy League school. I searched for other outlets to connect and find a career. Miss DC was the answer. After realizing that I was eligible to compete, I attended an information session. I got the answer I was looking for – if I didn’t win Miss DC, I could gain something out of it, and it could potentially be a job because of all the connections made. I signed up, and as they say, the rest is history.
When I competed for the title of Miss DC, I competed with the most sound mindset I’ve ever had in a pageant competition. My concern wasn’t that I needed to win this – the priority was to make this the best competition I’ve ever competed in. It was my last chance to ever perform on a stage, and in the grander scheme of things, perform for my parents who had sacrificed so much to get me there. With that attitude, and a sense of calm, I strode through the competition with victory, and oh, did it feels so good! For the first time in my life, I had actually achieved something that I could seriously only dream of – I was Miss DC, and I was going to Miss America.
The feeling of true accomplishment is one that does not compare to anything else. It’s like Christmas morning swimming through your whole body. Shock, happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, joy, self-appreciation…these are just some of the feelings that went through myself in the 2 minutes that Bindhu, Miss DC 2013, spent putting the crown on my head. A waterfall of tears streamed down my face and I ugly-cried my way through one of the most glorious moments of my life. The only thing I could think of in my head was “Oh My God, you’re going to Miss America.” And then, a frantic, happy scramble to find my parents among the crowd. It was nothing like I had felt before. And just like that, my life changed in a matter of moments.
I’ll have to save for what happens next in my year during Miss DC for another post, because I could go on forever about what the whole experience was like. I wanted this post to reflect the awe of self-achievement. Of course, I hope that I can experience this emotional climax many more times throughout my life. I honestly don’t think that Miss DC is my greatest accomplishment in life, but it certainly will always be one of them. Becoming Miss DC was the literal opening of the door into a new chapter in my life, and in that moment that it happened, I could feel the change coming to fruition. The ability to say that I was able to check off something on my life list, sort of like my bucket list, is an amazing feat. I only hope to be able to do the same again, for many more greater things to come.