Your heart is pounding. You feel your breath shorten. Suddenly your name is called and you walk across a stage in front of 300 wearing a bikini and five-inch heels. This is one of the many experiences I’ve had as a competitor in the Miss Teen Massachusetts Pageant.
As soon as I was accepted as a contestant I began preparing, even though the pageant was months away. Little did I know that in September, the start of my junior year, my life would become really hectic. I had to balance an academic schedule of one AP and the rest all honors classes with cross-country, extracurricular activities, work, and preparing for the pageant. On several occasions I had mental breakdowns because I felt my workload was unmanageable. I barely had time to breathe! However, I plugged away and did the best I could. Despite the chaotic first few months of junior year, my report card still had an HH on it, indicating that I had made the high honor roll.
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I’d always dreamed of competing in a beauty pageant. Although I did not win or place, I had a great time. It took courage to cross a stage in a swimsuit and those heels while sucking in my stomach, walking like a model, and smiling. It made my skin thicker and gave me the courage to try other things. I also improved my interviewing skills, met a lot of great people, and learned how to put on a smile, even if I felt emotional.
The week after the beauty pageant, everyone wanted to know how I had done. “Angela, did you win?” “What happened?” “How did you do?” I heard these questions for almost a month. I always responded with poise, and told people that although I didn’t place, it was a great experience. It’s not easy to tell everyone that you didn’t win. After my pageant experience, I realized that it is not necessarily the outcome that determines what you take from an experience, it is the quality of the experience, the memories, and the personal lessons you learn along the way.
Most important, I realized that you should always reach for your dreams, because otherwise you will never know what could have been. If I hadn’t entered the pageant, I would always wonder. Now, in my old age, I will be able to look back and be pleased with everything I’ve accomplished, because I took the initiative to strive for my dreams and enjoy life along the way. I no longer let opportunities pass me by, and I pursue all my goals and dreams, no matter how big or small.