Friday, July 19, 2013

The Climb

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an up-hill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Can you believe I just quoted Miley Cyrus? Yeah, well neither can I. Those words came from her 2010 song, “The Climb.” And it was those words that finally brought me to this moment. I finally feel the beginning sense of peace that I knew I would need to feel before I sat down to write and commit to my thoughts surrounding the 2013 Miss Virginia Pageant.

You want my honest reflection? Good, of course you do; and, lucky for you I know hardly know any other way to be. Standing on the stage and feeling as beautiful and as poised as I had ever felt in my life, it hurt to know that I had not made the Top 10 cut. It was disappointment, mixed with confusion… and, give it time, the Devil turned it into self-doubt and self-hate. Thankfully, there were not moments of jealousy (as in, I did not feel specifically jealous of one of those ten girls; I never felt that one of their spots belonged to me): my feelings were never directed to them –the emotions all faced inward. For two weeks, I beat myself up. Trying to figure out what I could have or should have done differently. I poured over pictures…and thought I looked gorgeous, happy: I glowed (!) for crying out loud. I had never looked better. So, what else could it have been? Maybe, it was my private interview. And then the questions from my interview came flooding back to me (and so did my responses). They followed me everywhere, in the mirror where I used to ask myself mock questions every morning; in the car while I listened to NPR; they followed me to the shower and when I laid my head on the pillow at night.

These emotions confused the crap out of me. I usually moved on from disappointments fairly easy – I would fuss a little bit, and then I move on. I learned from my mother that there is no sense in dwelling in the past: it’s over, after all. But this one thing would not leave me alone. Being completely honest, it was also hard for me to think of any other time where I had felt so defeated. (I knew in my heart that I did not fail – I had progressed too much and performed too well, to call what I did at Miss Virginia a failure.) But I certainly was defeated. But feeling sorry for one’s self is depressing enough: I couldn't continue to wallow in my self-pity much longer.

Attempting to add some “regularity” back into my life, I went back to the gym after 2 weeks off: 1 due to the pageant and the 2nd because I was recovering – and being lazy – after the pageant. That Monday class was not easy! And it did not exactly provide the motivation I was looking for. We know that God tells us to pour into his word…right? We are to praise him when we want for something and when we are thankful for something, and just because. I had been on my knees during pageant week, and I thought to myself – if anything – I need to continue the prayer life that I had during those 7 days of competition. There were verses that spoke to me… but none brought enough comfort to convince me that the misery I felt would go away any time soon. However, we knew that success does not happen overnight; and, therefore, I knew the same would not occur with healing. So, I remained patient, in prayer, and meditation. I stopped listening to the news and rode in my car in silence, preferring to think about the apartment I would soon be moving into and my recent promotion/pay raise…. I didn’t spend extra time in front of the mirror – as that would prompt thoughts regarding inner beauty and pageant interviews… I stopped stalking myself on IG and looking over my pageant photos by Julius. I needed a mental break. I need to just be still (Psalm 46:10).

On the road home from Hanover this weekend Miley’s song played (it is part of a mixed tape a friend made to hype me up for the state competition). And when Miley sang those four lines I finally HEARD what she was saying, and immediately felt this sense of understanding and knowing in my heart. I pressed the rewind button and listened to the song for the first time. She talks about the journey, and how you learn along the way…how there will ALWAYS be challenges, and sometimes we will succeed, and sometimes we will be defeated. And, it is okay to remember those moments when you’re down (most likely those will be the thoughts that resonate with us for the longest)…BUT – your true test is – do you remember to keep moving forward, to keep the faith that you've always had?

So, I must keep moving forward. Don’t get me wrong: I still remember my interview questions, and I remember how I felt on that stage after talent and gown (AH-MAZ-ZING!)… But I am here…today, in my office. This is me. And I must continue to embrace that because “it is what it is.” I can continue to spread my love of people and of service, and I can continue to share my Legacy of Kindness…because that’s who I am, who I have always been. It is my assuredness in who I am – without a crown – that will allow this journey, this “climb,” to continue.

And I feel that must say this... Some of you may think I sound ungrateful; for I know that many girls would have given just about anything to have had the chance to grace the stage in Roanoke (or had their name called for the “Legacy of Kindness” award, as I did). It is not that I am ungrateful – it is that I, as the strong woman I am, constantly find ways to challenge myself. So when I, and other contestants like me, do not reach our goals, do not mistake our tears for ungratefulness…instead see them as they may be – sadness for not reaching the goal we set for ourselves. We are grateful to be at Miss Virginia, to have had our name called as a local representative, to have been a preliminary award winner, to have made the Top 10, or Top 5, but there’s always going to be that hunger to be the best of the best…to me that hunger should be commended, not condemned. (I won’t lie though, some girls will just be salty about it, they won’t look for ways to improve or find the silver lining in the clouds and there’s nothing I can do about that!)

So-- thank you for those of you who continue to believe it me; who encourage me day in and day out. I am blessed by those of you who call me your Miss Virginia. I will likely take the time in the next few days to reflect in a more positive manner on the pageant week (*chuckles*). Thank you for reading, and I hope I wasn't too depressing.