Sunday, December 3, I did something I haven’t done in 8.5 years, and that was getting on stage to compete in a pageant. Now it totally wasn’t a big deal - just a practice pageant for next June. It was only evening wear and on stage interview. Not a big deal. Just trying to see what and where I needed to start prepping for stage work. But one thing in pageantry that has held true since the beginning of time is that things never go as planned. Will you be able to adapt or get left behind?
Saturday night. - I realized I hadn’t picked a dress from the closet or really practiced much for interview based on the submitted topics. Shame on me! So I pulled a dress from my closet and tried it on. Didn’t fit. Bananas! Pulled a second dress and it also didn’t fit. Double bananas! Finally I found a dress that fit and after swearing off food, I forced myself into a red gown. Yay for me that it fit BUT it was never intended for competition, and it wasn’t my favorite. Next, to try on shoes. One pair - ONE single pair- worked for the hem of this dress and they were to worst, most uncomfortable shoes ever. Seriously! The store should’ve given me a pack of blister band-aids to go with these shoes. I hate them but they are so pretty to stand still in! So now I’m terribly unhappy about Sunday and starting to have the internal debate on whether to go to the pageant or withdraw. I’ve always stressed to my girls to love their dress & to feel beautifully confident in that dress. If they don’t love it, then they likely won’t perform to their highest ability. So at least that lesson stayed true. But then I had to remind myself that this practice pageant is just that - practice. No matter the outcome, tomorrow’s results meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. After talking myself off the ledge, I started packing my things for Sunday. Then all of a sudden it hit me. The “what if’s.”
What if I fall off the stage?
What if I forget how to speak?
What if my zipper breaks?
What if .... I fail?
I stood in my closet staring off into the distance but I was really staring at myself in the mirror and didn’t realize it. Once I broke my distraction, I stared back into the mirror. I was worried about nothing. There would always be the “what if’s” but that should never stop anyone from trying. What if ... you missed your chance? This moment also reminded me of why I stopped competing 8.5 years ago. After 26 years I stopped having the “what if’s” and knew that if I stopped caring then it was time to walk away. My performance mattered again to me. I didn’t care so much about the results more than I cared about how I would feel about my own performance. This was new to me now and I guess it’s from years of being on both sides of the stage. As a coach I push my girls to get to their best. I motivate. I challenge. I mold. This means pushing them to try new things and to get out of their comfort zone. I was reminded of all the times I said this same thing to them backstage or in the dressing room or even at practice: "The results don't matter. You have to do this for YOU, and you alone." Yes, we work hard to be the winner at the end of the day but when we get there, things pop up that are out of our control and we do not control the judges. Sometimes the best girl wins and sometimes politics win, while even sometimes unfortunate things happen and costs my girls a well-deserved win. But all in all, as long as they are happy with their performance, meaning they have given it their all, that's all that matters. My favorite part is when the girls come off stage and either they are pleased and smile, or know instantly what they need to correct for next time. It means they care and they are paying attention.
Sunday AM. - I could not turn my brain off. I kept running over interview in my head. I kept going over my checklist. I just could not sleep. After a sleepless night, I zombie'd my way out of bed to start hair and makeup. Two hours later, it was time to pack up and drive the hour to the pageant. I arrived, checked in, got set up, and started steaming. Now, I was feeling more in my comfort zone with all the backstage prepping. I couldn't help but hear all the chatter around me with other moms and daughters. The contestants chatting to each other, the moms freaking out, and the little itty-bitty ones running around. It was different being on the contestant side today. Not stressing so much except trying to glue on fingernails! UNTIL, while steaming I found not one, not two but SIX stains on my dress. Oh for heaven's sake you have to be kidding me! I got out the Shout Wipes and my fabric sponge, and got to work. (Nothing ever goes as planned.)
After the crisis was averted, later, one of my own #TCM girls arrived. Sophie Cruze. She wanted on-stage interview practice before she competes again in January. She now competes in the Outstanding Teen system. She's such a genuinely kind-hearted person. She warms any room she walks into. So I touch up her hair, get her dressed, and then we are both ready to hit the stage.
First up - Sophie. I put her on stage and I swear she was floating on air. She was so graceful and beautiful. Then her on stage interview was about her platform: Project CARE Bear. She was stellar but when she came backstage she felt like she let herself down. I promise you we are always our hardest critics and she was getting inside her own head. I reassured her she did great. Yes - there was a time she rambled BUT that she got back on path and ended it beautifully. She was poised and well-spoken and compared to the rest of the division, she was my pick.
Next up - Me. I'm never worried about modeling and after hearing the judges bios read at the start of the pageant, I knew MY STYLE that I had to practice with would NOT be their "favored" style but today wasn't about THEM. Today was about me. I needed to practice like I was at Miss Earth USA. So I modeled. Then it was time for on-stage interview. I was asked: "What are you most grateful for in your life right now?"
That was NO WHERE NEAR what I submitted for topics of conversation.
2. Environmental Awareness
3. Effects of Social Media
Where did this question come from!?! Good thing I'm quick on my feet. I rambled some words and tied it other topics to wrap it all in a nice bow. Now I left the stage feeling defeated. *sigh* But you know what happened .... Sophie Cruze and her caring heart met me and said, "I don't know what your question was or what you said (because the other teen contestants were trying to chat with her) but I know you were awesome and nailed it." ..... Thanks, Sophie. Thanks..........
Crowning. Teens line up on stage. They call out 4RU. Not Sophie. 3RU. Still not Sophie. 2RU. Nope. 1RU. Nope. Then they call queen and my heart lept to hear "Sophie Cruze!" She did it. The self-doubt was pointless because she did it! Hard work paid off. Dedication. Determination. It all paid off. She was crowned Teen Miss Jefferson Parish. And I was so, so proud!
Now in the end, I also won my division but didn't really care about it today. Like I said earlier, I was there for myself and to evaluate a few things that I usually evaluate for my clients:
1. How will I handle pressure?
(I stopped worrying about the other people.)
2. How will I handle crisis?
(No other option because I don't have an 'Erin' to do it for me!)
3. How will I handle self-doubt?
(This time I had a 'Sophie' to keep me from doubting myself.)
4. How will I keep myself positive and motivated?
(I leave messages to myself on my phone because I often travel and compete alone.)
5. Will I able to think quickly on my feet and adapt on a dime? (Yep!)
6. Can I spot where I need to improve? (Being my hardest critic - on everything!)
Now that I got the first practice run out of the way, it was time to buckle down and get focused for June. My list is made. My timeline drawn out. My focus is set. Miss Earth USA is only 200 days away.