Today 17 Miss and 9 Teens make their way to check into the Miss Connecticut USA & Teen USA pageant. For the past 4 years I have been one of those girls. This year… I sit at my desk… at work… with no makeup on…mourning…. over pageants and experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out). Last year I left the pageant as 1st runner up, winner of interview and at peace that my journey to the crown was over. After 4 years of competing for Miss CT USA I made the decision to move on to my next adventure in life, whatever that would be. But right now, at this very moment, I hold back tears missing the feeling of excitement and adrenaline of pageant weekend.
I did not age out of the competition, I still could have competed for 2 more years, but I made the decision that I was ready to move on. All these feelings I have are normal, I would consider them like the way people feel during the holidays after they broke up with someone they had been dating for years. You miss all the good times and relive the memories and think about what could have been…. even though you were the one to end it and it was the right call. That’s what is happening to me right now. I have thought to myself many times, “Just show up!” “Come on just one more time” “So what you’re getting married, if you win, delay the wedding” and going through the “what if” scenarios. Basically I have been driving myself nuts.
I felt like sharing this with the world because there are so many of us young women who experience these feelings and writing them down is therapeutic to me.
This past year has been interesting, and I have experienced many changes and a lot of confusion in my self-identity. Pageants have been such a critical part of my how I identify myself for over 10 years and now I had to ask myself, who am I without pageants? To be honest the answer is “I don’t know”. I accredit who I am today because of pageantry, and feel like the skills I need for my job were learned through pageants …
Well, it has been 1 year since competing at Miss CT USA and I still don’t know who I am without pageants, but I am working on it. Even though I am still working through discovering myself, which takes time, this past year has been a great start to the process. I look for ways to learn, books to read, and workshops to attend to force myself to get outside of my comfort zone and continue to move forward.
These questions have helped me start my journey through self discovery and I hope they can help you if needed.
How can I love myself today?
How can I simplify my life?
What do I do everyday that makes me proud to be me?
How do I feel about me right now?
What am I grateful for?
What keeps me trapped in old patterns?
What is one thing I can do today that will get me closer to my dreams?
What do I desire?
What story can I let go of today that no longer serves me?
How do I define myself?
I wanted to share a few things that have happened during my first year post pageants. I have….
I am not going to lie, I knew when I told Rob, my now fiancé, that I was ready to move on from pageants, he would put a ring on it… and he did just that 😉 Planning a wedding has been really enjoyable and picking out my wedding dress was the best dress shopping I have ever experienced. Although I miss pageants, I cannot wait to become Mrs. LaBonne on 9.1.19
A New Job
I took a leap of faith to make a job change and it has been a great decision. I am now a Community Relations Specialist back at Eversource where I am the main point of contact for municipal and community leaders to answer their questions and support community priorities and initiatives. This job has a lot to learn but I have been enjoying the challenge and love the team I work with.
I was debating whether to share this with the world but therapy should not be something people feel they should hide. I meet with someone once a week to help me work through this confusing time in my life where so much is changing. I don’t feel damaged or that something is wrong with me. Therapy is a wonderful tool that more people should use, no matter the challenges you are facing, big or small.
Focused on inner peace
I signed up for the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training and can’t wait to start the process later this month. Yoga has so many mental and physical benefits that I wanted to take the opportunity to deepen my own practice, learn new things, and double down on this hobby and lifestyle.
not stepped on a scale
I have had to work a lot on loving my physical self post pageant and one of the first steps was to realize the scale does not define me. During a pageant you feel your most confident self, dedicating months to be in your best physical and mental state of mind. I literally have not stepped on a scale since the pageant and it has relieved stress and anxiety I have put on myself. This has forced me to listen to my body and focus on how I feel, not how I look. I wanted to continue to live a healthy lifestyle but maintaining pageant physical status is not sustainable for me. I started CrossFit, practice yoga and work towards eating healthy about 80% of the time. This took a lot of experimenting to understand what works for me and supports a healthy physical and mental state of mind. I feel very proud of myself for not focusing on a number or a size because deep down I am much happier with myself. My body is going to continue to change, and I need to keep working on not comparing myself to what I look like for pageants or compare myself to others. This too will be a constant process but at the end of the day the only person besides myself that I care what they think of my looks is my fiance, and he likes what he sees. (Que sassy snap)
Lastly, best of luck to all of the contestants competing this weekend, there are many of us post pageant girls who are wishing we were back in your 4 inch high heel shoes. Take in every moment, be grateful for the opportunity and if you do not win and decide to move on to the next chapter in life, I am here as a shoulder to cry on, open arms to hug or friend to talk to. Life is never perfect and sometimes the universe has other plans for you and you just have to wait to find out what they are.