The Man In The Arena
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
~ Theodore Roosevelt
I DID IT
I dared greatly, as author and inspirational speaker Brené Brown says. I am proud of myself, even if frustration and disappointment are the undercurrents. My goal had been to nail my interview. I did not meet that goal. Unfortunately, I think I let “strategy” once again choke my natural demeanor. It’s happened before, especially when I need to “present” myself in a speech or in these darn pageant interviews! Ironic, too, since I’m one of the most open-book & free spirited people I know. Apparently there’s more for me to learn, although I doubt another pageant is the way to learn it. Suffice it to say I don’t know just what things I’m supposed to have taken away just yet, or what my purpose was. Here’s what I do know.
“Anything that can go wrong, will.”
Things were simply out of my control pageant week, this generated an experience for my third pageant that was pure chaos. My kids got sick with fevers, Todd got sick, my hair had started falling out so badly the past several weeks that my original hairstyle for interviews was impossible to do, and my heel slipped off as I exited my interview Thursday morning (these interviews are imperative for success in the pageant). The hair concern might sound silly but the truth is, it is a pageant, appearances are important. If you look at the ladies who made top 10, to say they were having a good hair day doesn’t being to describe how wonderful their coifs were. Then my taping and padding all came undone between swimsuit and gown for Preliminaries Thursday night, and I forgot my button, causing me to be late for the director’s roll call.
Second verse of this crazy blues song: The day of Finals my husband had to leave at 7am to run a 5K race–I thought it was later in the day! So I was flying solo to tend my sick kids and get ready to get out the door to drive up to Denver. My dad arrived 15 minutes later than planned and getting them out the door was not speedy. I raced to the city but in my frenzy I got disoriented and couldn’t find parking. Late again, this time very late. I was so embarrassed and sad that I let people down. And I think I might have been PMSing; some women get witchy, I just can’t stop crying!
I kept reminding myself that God saw this coming, and I kept wondering what I was/am supposed to learn from all this because I’d felt strongly led to do this pageant again. I did not nail my interview and I did not make top 20. Ouch.
Perhaps it isn’t just a question of “what was I supposed to learn?” I had prayed several times that the Lord would use me as a blessing to others. I don’t know every instance where that may have happened, but maybe my presence there was more in that vein–what I was giving rather than receiving.
Melissa Nobi and I, March 2011 and April 2015, respectively. It was a chance meeting on the Streets of Cheyenne that inspired me to try pageantry–we wound up in the same small group this year! Coincidence? Maybe. Or not…
THE GAMBLING KIND
I am not sure if my own feelings of being stung had blinded me the other two times or if the people in the pageant this year were just more honest about how they felt, but the raw pain was far more palpable last night than my other two years. Girls were honest about feeling hurt, rejected, and stunned. This time, being ready for the sting, I was able to console and comfort, or at least try. I held one girl back stage as she sobbed, “I could have had a baby this year!” Her husband had patiently waited while she prepped for the pageant instead of trying to conceive.
I saw the disappointment of women who who previously had placed in the pageant be faced with lower rankings. One woman with previous titleholder status from other pageant systems was in tears after the show, and I felt for her. 60 women competed, and I would bet that in the end, there were more broken hearts than not.
It’s a hard game, and anyone who thinks pageant girls are foofy and pampered are wrong (OK, not always, there is a lot of foof and I’ve met many pampered pageant girls–but just as many who are not.) It reminds me of figure skating–a sport that requires hard training and commitment but looks beautiful and effortless in action. The women who get into this sport and return again and again are tough both physically and mentally. They have to be to handle the physicality of it and the defeat, gather themselves again and go back for more.
But I also think there’s an element of gambling involved with pageantry. How, for example, could the very same person go from being in the top 5 one year to top 20 the next? Not much had changed with her, and in fact she was in better physical shape than I remember seeing her before. Luck? Gotta be lots of it in this arena. So if you’re going to be serious about competing in pageants, you have to accept that you are facing a subjective element that is totally out of your grasp. That’s why I compare it to gambling. Lots of preparation–and then roll the dice.
The queens from years past encourage all of us who are competing to never give up. I definitely agree with that principle, but on the other hand, isn’t it easy for them to say that since they were picked? You really have to count the cost and consider your sources for advice. For some of us, never giving up on a dream is the right thing, but for others, adjusting our dreams is the right thing.
HURTS SO GOOD
After my first pageant people would ask if I had fun. I came to say that it “hurt so good.” Lots of hard workouts, intense planning, personal and family and sacrifices were made to prepare. The aftermath of not placing was the platform for lots of hard lessons. I came to pretty much the same conclusion for the second pageant. Of course I didn’t know what to expect for the third, but I think if I embrace it, the same will be true: it hurt so good. (Ask me right this minute, however, and I’m suffering from a terrible head cold and pinkeye in the middle of a messy, messy house that’s out of food! The “hurt” is not feeling so good just yet!)
This is sort of a footnote that doesn’t really fit into the rest of my thoughts. Many of my friends and family were surprised that I got into doing the pageant. I struggled with the “shallow” piece of pageants, and as someone who is authentic and truthful, I came to this view: the spray tans, big hair, tooth whitener, and false eye lashes (never mind the padding and adhesives that go underneath it all,) that’s part of the performance. As a theater veteran I can tell you that no one goes on stage looking “normal” even if they’re supposed to look normal! Heavy make-up and well-planned costumes are part of the venue. Pageantry is a form of theater, and hence the big “costuming”.
And as for judging on appearances: why don’t we hear about the Mr. Universe pageants and body-building competitions as being “shallow?” Ultimately they’re also very visual and physical in nature. The minute we all put on blindfolds will be the minute we stop judging our world by appearances. It’s done by everyone everyday.
I wasn’t one of the top beauties in the pageant this year–there were at least a dozen “goddess-like” beauties! I may have been out of my league in fact. But it’s just part of the game.