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  • Writer's pictureAustin Douglas

To The Girl Who Just Signed Up For Her First Pageant...And Lost...

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

So, you signed up for a pageant. You practiced your talent, studied current events, did mock interviews, and watched every pageant movie from "Dumplin" to "Miss Congeniality". The competition finally arrives and you are feeling more prepared than ever. You couldn't be more ready, you know that you can fulfill the job requirements, and believe you will win. I mean, why shouldn't you? The competition begins and soon enough it is time to crown the winner. You stand hand in hand with the other contestants, the suspense is built up by the music and nerves of the crowd, and then they announce the winner; and it's not you.

I've been the person that gets the crown, but more importantly I have also been the person that does not; both in pageants and in life. And as someone who has been both, there are three things I want you to know.

1) Being a "loser" is not always a bad thing...

Just because you lost does not make you a loser. I know it sounds cliché, but you still need to hear it. My first time competing, at 14 years old, I must admit I was fully confident I would win. I had grown up watching pageants my whole life and I thought I was ready. As the story goes, I didn't even win a single award. And I was sad, mad even, for a few months (which, in retrospect, makes me giggle a little bit). But since time has passed, I recognize that I needed to lose. It is true that is builds character. Moreover, it taught me that my value as a person is not dependent on my achievements. And after an initial period of sadness, it build up my persistence and my drive to keep trying. All of which are difficult, but necessary lessons to learn.

2) How you react will influence your future with the organization and the people in it...

I cannot preach this enough. I know it's hard, I know it hurts, and I know you are sad. I've been there. And you have every right to feel your emotions, which are justified. But, I urge you to take a step back. Think about the other girls on that stage who have worked just as hard as you and lost too. Think about how every director or judge are all just volunteers trying to do their jobs; and more often than not, have nothing but the best intentions for you.

While this is all much easier said than done, it is important. Your reaction onstage, the way you treat the other contestants, and how you respond when things do not go your way are all being watched. Now, I do not mean for this to sound intimidating. It just has to be said because there is some truth to it. And every girl who has competed before will tell you the same thing. As a titleholder there will always be moments during your year of service in which your plans go awry and things change (after all, the motto of our organization is "flexible and gracious"). And as with most things, I believe the older you get and the more practice you have with losing, the easier this will become.

3) You still won...

While you may not have won in the way you were hoping, there is always a silver lining. Either you gained a new friend, won a scholarship/another award, improved a skill or at the very least are able to add another experience to the resume. If you look hard enough you can always find the "wins". In all my time competing, and losing, and competing again, I've learned how helpful it can be to set tangible goals. You cannot always guarantee the outcome of a competition like this, where the results are based, oftentimes, on the opinions of a few panelists. But I learned from a wonderful mentor and long time friend, Debbie Nazarino, that you should not rob yourself of the opportunity to walk away feeling confident and at peace, regardless of the outcome.

Over the years, and with her help, I have worked to create achievable goals so at the end of the day I can still walk away feeling successful. For example, while competing at Miss Washington my goals were to make at least one new friend, push myself by trying a new style of singing for talent, and talk about my three main points in interview. It is still normal and good to have the goals of making top 10, top 5, or winning; and of course we all do. But I find that walking away from a competition that you "lost" is so much easier when you have achieved your personal, tangible goals that lie within your control.

I hope this provides you with a little bit of encouragement, as I know it can be hard to lose, especially after working so hard towards your goal. But, it is true that you gain more from losing than you often do from winning. So, my best advice: try, fail, and try again.

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