So I've been on break for a little bit but not actually "ON BREAK," just a little time to prep for the next season and get the newbies situated. I needed a little time to recover from the summer both physically, mentally and emotionally. It was a rough summer, I won't lie, but there were several turning points that came along that shaped how I view my role, the pageant world, fate, and people.
Hello, I am Erin Husbands, owner of The Crowning Moment. I competed for 26 years until I retired and eventually started coaching on the side for fun. It later evolved into TCM and turning my passion into a job that I absolutely LOVE. I am a pageant coach but that doesn't mean I only teach smiling & waving - no mam - I teach so much more than that. Since 2009 I have been working with girls on life skills and in 2015, I officially became "The Crowning Moment." I started out local then grew into statewide coaching, which expanded to neighboring states, which have landed me in states from coast to coast. Believe me, I feel truly blessed to be where I am in life today. Not everyone wakes up having their dream job that brings adventure, travel, and the opportunity to change lives.
This was our third summer competition season as "The Crowning Moment." This summer was different from all the rest. I don't know quite how to explain "HOW" it was different, but it was. The blogs I wrote during our competition was a view into my world and my life with these girls and families, but since I had never opened my life up like that I don't expect anyone to understand. This summer had been a turning point for me that affected my views on competition and teaching the girls about competition. After working so closely with the girls, I learned so much more about them as individuals, often times that have nothing to do with pageants. I learn more about WHY they set the goals they have and WHAT makes them tick. I learned about their hesitations and fears, but more importantly I learned how to help them overcome those anxieties. I also learned how competition affects some of the girls SO much differently from others. Some are able to handle the pressure while others are not, and before you go all postal on me saying, "Why put these children through that!??!" or "You should be more responsible on considering their emotions." etc - you have to remember it was the girls' decision to do this and (1) we are NOT quitters, (2) we are NOT afraid of facing new challenges, and (3) we overcome and rise above. (Drops the mic)
But going into competition, after all the prep work was complete and all the dress rehearsals were done, basically all that was left for me to do was ..... take a wild guess. Seriously. Competing in pageants is always the luck of the draw. You are letting five strangers (some qualified judges and some not so much; some are fair while others may have wrong intentions; some are experienced while others may have never attended a pageant, ever!) decide on the numerical value of your beauty, intelligence, talent, and style. Now, when I say it like that, I even think it's crazy that people do this. But what is invaluable is the skills learned, the connections, the adventure, the friendships, and the memories. (Yes, yes I know - so cliche of me!) So now that all I can do is take a guess on the outcome for each TCM girl, this summer I took a different approach on their mental strategy. I pushed each girl to their limit and then some, just to make sure they would be ready to step into a national title at the end, but for each girl, there came a time that the conversation switched from "You go this!" to "You are wonderful but don't be upset if today isn't your day."
It's important to stay grounded. I never make guarantees. I cannot see the future. I will not promise you that you will always be successful every time you hit the stage. BUT what I can promise is that you will be given all the tools needed to be your best self and that no matter the outcome, I will always be proud of you (along with your family & friends). I stressed this very message all summer long. These pageants and the outcomes will never define you as a person. You will not be remembered for the rest of time just because you won a shiny crown. Win or lose, what people will remember about you is what you do next. (And if you've read our blogs all summer long then you already know this theme.)
Throughout the summer I've given you windows into our day to day adventures that have included TCM girls and their stories along with ups and downs and funny moments. But now, I want to give you a different look at what I endure. Here's my story:
Is Patience on Back-Order??
For those who know me, they know that I have very high expectations for my TCM girls. I expect them to be studious, excel in their communities, be strong leaders, selfless, and very determined - just to name a few. I expect just as much from my tiny humans as I do from my teens and miss girls. But here is one thing I've learned from my work with these incredible young ladies - patience.
Over the summer I have encountered situations where the girl clearly shows she is not mature enough to handle some of these situations that arise during a national competition. The form of it can be anything from (1) losing interest or focus on the main purpose of being there, (2) losing confidence in themselves because they have measured themselves up to the other contestants (which is a HUGE no-no!), (3) letting someone else get inside their head, (4) just not mature enough (which isn't their fault, just part of growing up), or (5) being arrogant, which is not tolerated. Period.
So I use patience. Lots of patience. I talk to them. I build them back up. I give them words of comfort. I remind them of their goal(s). I whip out sincerity and use a dash of reasoning. Being a coach isn't just about teaching you routines or smiling and waving, no, being a good coach is more like being a mentor. (Not saying that is alone is what separates a "good coach" from "not a good coach." I just feel this is one aspect that helps ME feel like I am a "good coach" by my standards and my client's standards.) Now when this does not work, I have to step back and try to understand what other factors are creating this negative mind-frame. Can I remove this from the situation? Can I block it? Is it something I can fix at all? Is this coming from within the girl herself?
Now this part is the hardest part of all - letting the girl learn from this experience, even you already know it will cost them the pageant. (I expect a few GASPS and OH NO YOU DIDN'T!) There are hard times that either the girl or the mom, or even both, need to have a learning moment in their pageant career. We all have them - that is inevitable. I promise you every single contestant goes through this. There have been times when the moms and/or the girls are just NOT listening to me. It's frustrating when they are paying for your expertise and you are giving it your all, but they STILL WILL NOT listen to you. I give more patience, I try to be understanding. It's disheartening that even more so, it's out of your hands and the odds are high they will not score well. (Not to say that everything I suggest is perfect and will guarantee a win - nope. I told you, I cannot see the future.) But what truly makes me sad is knowing that all the time and energy I've put into your daughter was time taken from another child. I do my best to explain why I have come to certain decisions. I try to help you see it in a different light, but when they decide to go against your advice, it's just disheartening. Of course there are times when the girl is adamant on her OWN decision that was indeed made independent from outside influence, and when that happens, I will always be the first to support her (unless it is the absolute worst decision! ha!) and not try to change it. Even if I still do not believe it was the best decision for the judges, if it gives her an ounce more confidence and it enhances her competition mind-frame, I will stand beside her. Several TCM girls stepped up like that this summer - though young in age, wise in decisions. They made a call on various matters that they believed in - and just to see that confidence in their decision and change of focus was wonderful! It makes me wonder how inspiring they will be when they are older and walk into a board room as the president of some big time company.
Then, there are times when the girls have already been mentally beaten before competition starts. They compare themselves too much to the rest of the competition. This is the worse part about competition. You should never compare yourself to others. But that is human nature. However, this is a learned habit. I often fuss (ok at that point the patience has run dry!) at the moms about stalking the contestants head shots because then the girls hear it and do the same. I always laugh when moms send me messages like, "OMG Did you see that girl's head shot?" I always chuckle and think to myself - "NOPE!" I cannot change their photo to look less photo-shopped or change the appearance of "my girl" to compare to someone else. I almost never worry about the competition head shots online because I would rather focus energy on better preparing my girls for the real deal. I am not there to win a photogenic award.
But some of my girls still have to learn about handling pressure, whether internally or externally. They focus too much on others or focus too much on their "not so strong points." They fall to pressure so quickly that at that point, there is ZERO chance of bringing them back to game-face mode. They are out. They are out of competition simply because their mental game is destroyed. Through out prep time, I stay diligent to spot this and stay ahead of it, when I can. But sometimes, it just pops out at the worst time possible. This is hard to tell the moms during competition after all that time, energy, and money has been spent. It's a tough talk to have, but that team HAS to understand that the game plan has changed so that we do not do more harm to her confidence and start building her back up. But these moments are also useful to me to know when it's time for them to take a break so that the girl can mature and grow, and decide for herself if pageantry is still her goal, or whether it's time to walk away.
Nothing that I do while working with these girls is easy, believe it or not. You've already read what I go through just to make even the tiniest of decisions. I toss and turn over how these girls may feel about every tiny thing. I take it all so personally. But that's what I can offer you - a personal investment from me to your child. And after this summer, so many things have changed my own personal goals and approach to reshaping The Crowning Moment to truly help you achieve excellence one moment at a time. It will take time, so I hope you can be patience, but I also patiently await the outcome of this journey that I have been set upon. Never in a million years, would I have guessed that my purpose in life is to work with children and changing lives that also change mine.
Well, I did ask for an adventurous life .....