Why I Feel Like a Winner – Even Without the Crown

This weekend, I competed in my first ever Outstanding Teen pageant at the state level. It was so incredible to showcase all that I have prepared for on a stage in front of hundreds of awesome Nebraskans. I placed in the top 3, but I have never felt more content with anything in my life. I didn’t walk away with the crown and state title this weekend, but I did walk away with things more meaningful than I could’ve imagined. 

I left this weekend with hundreds of dollars in scholarship money from being named the 2nd runner-up, Miss Congeniality, and receiving the Community Service award. But still, those aren’t the reasons I feel like I accomplished something. 

I came out of my shell this week. If you have known me growing up, you’ve seen how hard it was to get me to talk to people. Even just a few years ago, I was very shy and timid for almost everything. But now, I was voted Miss Congeniality of the pageant by the other contestants. Now, I call these girls my friends. And now, I know that we will have lifelong friendships because of the time we spent together.

Because these girls are not just pretty faces on stage. They are dedicated, determined, thoughtful, kind, charismatic, and admirable away from the bright lights. They all know how to form a hug circle when the day just got a little rough. They know how to make you smile and laugh when your nerves are weighing you down. And they know how to drop a beat for you to rap “Ice Ice Baby” to on multiple occasions. (Thanks again for this)

But even more importantly, they know how to make you feel loved at any moment. For a lot of us, we went from being acquaintances at the beginning of the week to not being able to pull ourselves away from hugs when we had to say goodbye at the end of the week. We vowed to meet in the middle sometime, or to keep our Snapchat streaks alive. 

I love these girls so dearly; each and every one of them has incredible qualities that will take them so far in life. I am honored to have won Miss Congeniality, thanks to their votes. 

I also gained an even stronger appreciation for all the people who volunteer for the pageant. I knew they worked hard during the week, but I didn’t know it was that hard. The men and women behind the scenes at the pageant throughout the entire week are so amazing and will literally do anything to make sure that we are comfortable. 

To the backstage crew, the hostesses, the lunch committee, the board of directors, the production crew, the emcees, and everyone else – thank you so much for the time and energy you have given to us girls. It is truly fabulous and I’m so grateful for all you do. 

I know now how far a simple “thank you” can go, especially after crying happy tears with some devoted volunteers for the organization. I know how far a “congratulations” can go after a girl poured their heart and soul onto the stage. I know how far an “I love you” can go after you have to say goodbye to a girl who you became best friends with. 

I know the importance of a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, a quick joke, and a fun story. I’ve seen how great some double-sided tape or scissors come in handy. I’ve felt the power of a warm smile from a contestant and the chills from a talent on stage. 

I know the excitement a little girl gets when a princess walks in the room, and how she will stare down your crown. I know how easy it is to smile at her and make her day. 

The list goes on and on of why I’m so grateful for this opportunity. They say that you win some and you lose some, and in this case, while I didn’t walk away with the title, I walked away with much more than I dreamed. 

Here’s to all the people that I have supported me on this journey or even gave me kind words after I competed – thank you. 

To the winner of Miss Nebraska’s Oustanding Teen 2016, Hannah Miller – I am so happy for you!! You are going to represent Nebraska so well at Nationals and throughout your year. I am so glad that I’ve had the opportunity to get to know you over the last several months. It was your time to shine and you truly did. You will be a fabulous role model for young girls and will promote the organization and your platform so well. Don’t forget all of us when you’re famous 😉 

Now, I will continue to represent the Tri-Cities with my title, and I will continue to work on my platform issue. I will prepare for the next phase of my life as I go into my senior year of high school. I go back to normal life now, but this experience will always be pegged as extraordinary.