In the past year, I have become a pageant junkie. I watch every pageant I can; from local competitions to getting to see Miss America crowned in person. I love making my guess as to who is going to walk away with the crown. Being on the audience side of the pageant the crowning is easy. Sure, I have my favorite I’m rooting for, but whatever the results end up being, as an audience member I get to move on after the pageant, entertained, Yes, but not changed.
I have watched enough women get their crowns this year, around 30, (told you I was a junkie) to know the drill. At that moment you walk forward, smile, wave, cry a little; I should have been able to play the part. No matter how many pageants I have watched though, nothing prepares you for being on the participant side.
At the end of the night, the competition part of the evening is over. All of the participants have found their final spots of the stage. It should be time to relax. Ha! Now is when the real stress begins, because we have to stand there and …wait. Patience is one of the virtues I have to work on a bit more than others.
At the ND International pageants, the Mrs. Awards are last so, as I stand on the stage I am watching the Teen and Miss crownings first. They are all so beautiful, and while I have made deeper connections with some of them, I am rooting for each of them. I want so badly for each of these young women to reach their dreams; to have the crown I can already see on their heads. Maybe it is because I am a mom, and I have daughters who can hardly wait to follow their own pageant dreams, but I felt the crush of loss and the thrill of victory with each of them.
If any of the candidates from the 2014 pageant are reading this, please run again. You can do it. You are beautiful. Go claim the crown I already see.
Finally, the Mrs. Contestants step forward. In my mind it is a blur. I remember wanting to close my eyes and hold my breath as the names are read. In my head was advice given to me from Shelle Moran, Mrs. ND International, 2011. She said that the real winner is seen in how they lose. I wanted to be genuinely happy for whoever walked away with the crown that night. Each one of us deserved it.
While the name of Mrs. North Dakota International was read, I was telling myself to open my eyes. I had so much to concentrate on. Breathe, breathe, breathe. During this very public moment, my head was having a very busy, private conversation. When my name was called, it took me a moment to remember what to do. So much for having the crowning moment figured out. I am glad I even managed to step forward and bend down. I am thankful everyone else remembered what to do and just pushed me where I needed to go, even while I was in my daze.
My true crown is my husband; I am so thankful that he is the one who got to place my sparkly crown on my head. As a married women and a mother, my crowning moment changed not my life for the next year, but my husband’s and children’s too. I am proud to get to wear the Mrs. North Dakota International crown this year, and I love my family for always seeing a crown on my head, even before it was there.
So there you have it… the tale of a pageant junkie who had to talk herself through her own coronation. I am so grateful for the beautiful queens I get to walk through this year with. Together we are on a grand adventure and I’ll be sure to keep you informed!
Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014