Thursday, July 5, 2012

Life's Defining Moments

I have been asked before to name a defining moment in my life; and, being the person that I am I find it difficult to rest on just one moment. This year for the Miss Virginia program book, I decided on "the moment I landed an internship with Goldman Sachs in NY." But, as I sit here and think back on my relatively short-lived life, I can say with complete honesty and conviction that this 23rd year of my life has truly been a defining moment and the best year of my life. (Can an entire year be a defining moment? lol) And, I know that if this year is the best so far that God is getting ready to blow my socks off in years to come.

I would say that this year of definition started summer internship (you can see that I am a scholar & business woman first!). I worked in McLean, VA for Freddie Mac and was blessed to live with Megan and her family for the three months that I spent working. Megan was not someone I had met before or knew much about. When I accepted the job offer I called my friend Betty (my first pageant director) and told her the good news; she told me right away that she would start calling around to see if she could help me find a place to stay. She called a friend, who called a friend and that's how I met Megan. Needless to say, the summer of 2011 was pretty awesome. I spent a good amount of time traveling and trying new things. My car batter died on me Memorial Day (thank goodness Donnie was there to keep me calm). I paid rent for the first time. And I watched the Miss VA pageant live that summer. I traveled to a National Park in West Virginia. I ate at a rotating sushi bar in Tyson's Corner and came to own my first Kate Spade bag. I went to NY to spend time with my Grams immediately following the internship and on my way home I got a call from Freddie Mac extending me a full-time position.

The next "big event" in my life took place on November 19, 2011 (I hope to never forget that date). That evening I was crowned Miss Hampton-Newport News 2012. That was certainly a defining moment - one in which a three-year long dream was coming true - I was finally going to compete on the Miss Virginia stage in Roanoke! This defining moment allows me to tell every little girl (or boy) to always go after what you want and not to let anyone or anything stand in your way. Imagine if had I given up on my dream after competing in over a dozen local preliminaries and walking away without a crown? Know what you want, know why you want it...

The following few months marked my last semester in graduate school - and I thought winning a local title was tough! There were days/weeks I wasn't sure that I would pass my finals or my classes. Things were rough, but I never gave up on myself; and, the constant support and encouragement from my family and friends kept me going. On May 13, 2012 I walked across the stage on Buckman Lawn and received my Masters of Business Administration degree from Hampton University. Talk about a proud moment! My family was there to look on as I became the first female in my family to earn a Master's degree.

I was living on Cloud 9 for the weeks following. School was done. Miss VA was in a matter of weeks. And I was still working part-time at JCPenney (the Greenbrier store graciously sponsored some of my appearance wardrobe/jewelry for the State pageant). And then, mere days before I am to leave for Miss Virginia, my car (whom I fondly refer to as "Frannie") catches on fire. Now some of you may laugh (as I had to, to stop myself from crying) but I was not a happy camper. The car overheated on the highway - thank goodness my friend Joe was with me - and with quick thinking from the both of us, the fire was put it out and we were both safe. We were able to have the car towed home and looked at by a mechanic. But now I was car-less and in a slight panic.

God worked things out, as he always does, and I was able to ride with two of my pageant sisters - Elissa Taylor and Shelby Smith - to Roanoke the following Sunday. The Miss Virginia Pageant... talk about a defining moment in a girl's life...was a BLAST. Being surrounded by 25 young women (whom Elizabeth Robinette and I decided were not underachievers ;) for 6 days was a blessing. Knowing that each of us impact our communities on a daily basis to bring about positivism and to encourage young people to be involved, healthy, and educated citizens gives me hope for our future generations.

My last defining moment (so far)...
We all know that I can't stay put for too long, right? As I told my judges in my private interview - if I didn't get a crown on my head on Saturday night... I was starting work on Monday morning in Northern VA (NOVA). Well, the Miss VA pageant week officially ended when I checkout of my hotel room around 10:30am on Sunday, July 1st (with no new crown). After having chicken and waffles at Thelma's in downtown Roanoke, mum, T, & I headed home. On the way (mind you at this point I am still not 100% sure how I am getting to NOVA to start my new job the next day), my father calls to tell me to pick up a rental at the airport so that I can drive up to NOVA no problem. I get the car, drive home, pack the rest of my belongings, and am on the road again within the hour. I arrived at my home away from home around 10pm that night. Set my alarm for 6:50am, took a shower, and went to sleep.

Monday, July 2nd. Though I vowed during pageant week that I had no desire to wear another pair of heels or see another makeup bag, I dutifully grabbed my newest pair of black pumps, put on my foundation, mascara, and a splash of blush after breakfast and headed out the door. I am now a working woman: a woman who has to figure out how to budget her money responsibly; how to balance her time between work and play. I am woman who will now start adding new things to her list of short- and long-term goals. I am excited by life and even more by the unknowns that come along with it.

Now the question is: What have I learned from my defining moment(s)?
- Life is short and sweet. Enjoy it. (I think about my frat brother who passed away in 2010... and the great legacy that he has given to many...Will others be able to say the same about you?)

- There is no sense in worrying. - It only causes headaches and wrinkles, and I don't want either!

- ALWAYS believe in your dreams and don't give up on them. (If you do, you will surely miss out on a blessing!)

- God is always in control. (Period.)