Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Defining Success

In life we have all competed in a variety of different activities, whether it be a high school speech meet, college basketball game, or in my case, an International Pageant Competition. Sometimes we will win the award for best persuasive speech, win the basketball tournament, or even the title of Miss International. To some people winning is receiving an award, to me it is not about a trophy or a title, it is about getting the opportunity to spread my message regarding my platform, Human Trafficking: “It’s happening here, It’s happening now.” Many people have a misconceived notion of what winning really is, when in reality it is what you make of it. You can learn from each experience in your life, be grateful for the opportunity or walk away feeling disappointed. I can tell you first hand, that receiving the title of Miss ND International 2011 and competing for the title of Miss International 2011, has been a life changing experience and I am so grateful to not only have gotten this amazing opportunity but to share my experience with so many other wonderful people. 

The last week of July I traveled to Chicago to compete for the title of Miss International 2011. After months of preparation, the competition I had been waiting for had finally come! The week of the competition was filled with meeting other Miss International contestants from other states and countries, appearances, rehearsals, and lots and lots of fun! The memories I gained that week will be everlasting, I cannot help but smile every time I think about it. As the week went by, the first area of competition was private interview. This was the area of competition I was most anxious about and the reason being, my time had finally come to share my story with five judges why human trafficking is my platform. I did not recognize this immediately, in fact it took my coach Suzy Bootz to point it out to me, but this was my chance to make a difference, this was my chance to spread awareness and educate others on what exactly human trafficking was and what I was doing to make a difference.  

After private interview, the next night was prelims where the onstage portion of the competition took place. Wow, what a whirlwind of emotions, anxious, nervous, excited, all rolled into one evening. The night ended and the next day was a repeat of emotions but also the end to a competition, it was finals night. After opening number, the People’s Choice Award was given and the top ten finalists were announced. I remember thinking to myself, this is it, this is the moment I have been waiting for but yet I knew in the back of my mind that I already had achieved success by just being able to share my platform with the judges and most importantly being able to represent North Dakota. To start the night off I fortunately had won the People’s Choice Award, and then the top ten were announced right after. The moment had come…..I was called number six! Words cannot express how I felt at that moment besides to say incredible and so very proud! 

As finals night started to end and the winner was minutes away from being announced I could not help but smile and count the many blessings I had received throughout the week. I did not win a crown or the title of Miss International but I won something much bigger. So much bigger that it took me days after the competition to recognize. Not only had I come representing North Dakota, but I also represented all the victims of human trafficking who have not survived to tell their own story.   There are times in our lives that we do not recognize how much impact we have on others, at the Miss International Pageant I can honestly say, not only do I feel that I was able to impact others lives but mine will be forever changed. A change so powerful that I am finally beginning to recognize who I am and the power that I have as an individual person to make everlasting change. Every one of us has a life story, what happens in your next chapter is yours to write. You can take the road more traveled or start a new trail, the choice is yours. 

Yours truly,
 Stacy Schaffer
Miss ND International 2011