Everyone has to start somewhere, and I was new once not that long ago too. Pageantry isn’t the same tradition in North Dakota as it is in other areas, so it can feel a little strange entering “uncharted territory”, but there are great people here that know exactly what to do. After competing in pageants myself, I believe every girl out there really needs to try at some time in her life. How many other times can you say you had the opportunity to prepare to be the best YOU possible on stage for all your friends and family to support and love? It’s so encouraging to hear the cheers in the crowd from your excited team that can’t wait to see you in your favorite gown and love and support this new, empowered girl!
What I wish I would have known before competing is bigger then choosing a wardrobe, learning how to walk in heels with stage presence, or how to interview with judges (you can hire a great coach for all that anytime!). So I wanted to share a few things that I believe are important to consider before you start your journey.
1) Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself! As women, we tend to downplay a lot of what we do for ourselves and focus on others around us. We sometimes think we are being selfish if we give ourselves too much attention. Instead of feeling guilty, think of pageantry as an investment in who you are! Whether it means taking more time at the gym, eating differently then usual, or buying a great dress that you love just for you, it’s OK to put yourself first every once and awhile. Let yourself relax, enjoy being who you are, and learn about who you can be.
2) It’s OK to ask for help! If I know one thing about pageants, it’s that every girl on the stage didn’t get there alone. There is an entire team of people behind her cheering her on and helping her to succeed. Whether it’s a hair stylist, sponsor, or a family member that proof-read paperwork, there has been a lot of support along the way. And its OK to get your community involved in your goals! Think of who you know that has a unique talent and how they may be able to help you. Brainstorm what you need to prepare and think of people you know in each area of competition that may be able to help. Its OK to ask!
3) Remember why you are competing! When you decide to enter, write down why you started. Give yourself a moment to reflect on why you are choosing to compete and what has been inspirational to you to get you to that point. These reasons might evolve and change as all things do over time, but you will always have an original path to fall back on if you get lost along the way. It’s easy to become side-tracked when you start anything new, and so I believe it’s always important to remind ourselves why we are going through the challenge in the first place.
4) Read Creating Queens by Suzy Bootz! Suzy is a former Mrs. International and has now coached four other women to receiving the international title as well! She is a leading expert in the International System and her book is a complete guide that lays out how to prepare to compete. What I love about Suzy is that she has a really uplifting and positive way of communicating that can pertain to anyone. She writes with such a soothing and gentle tone that really allows you to feel comfortable about competing, instead of anxious and nervous. And I have an extra copy for anyone who is interested!
5) Your life will change for the better! Unless you try really hard, you won’t just go home after competing to things being “back to normal.” Your routine will likely be the same, and people around you won’t have changed. But something inside you will be different. You might have found out a few new things about yourself that you didn’t know you had in you. You just put yourself out there on stage and that took courage! You just opened this great new door for yourself that you can apply in all aspects of your life, so be prepared to be a little different when its all over.
Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD
Miss North Dakota International 2014