1) They totally depleted any desire I had to settle for mediocre. Average. Just ‘okay’. Status quo.
2) They destroyed my shyness and anxiety I had towards interacting with people my own age without constant fear of judgment. That being said…
3) They also screwed up any hopes I ever had of worrying about interviews or addressing adults. Speaking with superiors was already one of my strengths, but now it is a skill I have refined and honed so much that I actually look forward to tough questions and serious discussions.
4) They shut down any fears I had about singing with an audience. I am no Aretha, Carrie, or Celine, but how many people actually conquer that fear in their lifetime? I guarantee a large majority of them are Miss America girls.
5) They ruined my clumsy, awkwardly tall presence and transformed it into a poised and graceful ease.
6) They diminished my physical insecurities. I walked on stage in front of hundreds of people, on multiple occasions, in a bikini. Cellulite, butt glue, spray tan and all. In 5 inch platforms. With my dad watching.
7) They took away my ability to put down other women without a second thought. I can no longer point out their weakness without A) acknowledging my own or B) celebrating their strengths at the same time.
8) They totally messed up my inability to accept that you will not always be the best, the most beautiful, the most talented, or the most put together. Pageants taught me to understand losing is a big part of life, and that you can do anything and everything in your power to make a dream come true and sometimes it still just may not be enough. And that’s okay.
9) They drained any chances I had of missing out on meeting some of the most amazing, encouraging, and inspiring women I’ve ever met.
10) They 100% RUINED any chance I had of not completely owning what I believe, what I say, what I wear, what I do, and who I am.
This is not to say that I don’t believe certain aspects of pageantry can condone negative habits and behaviors, but for the large majority, they don’t. Any activity for young women that encourages them to develop into well rounded, accomplished adults, equipped with the life skills to tackle almost any personal or professional situation life throws their way is alright in my book.