When things get tough in pageantry…or in life… sometimes we jump to the worst case scenario. We get overwhelmed and terrified by the worse possible thing that could go wrong, then we obsess over it until we can’t possibly imagine any other way except the worst way and we somehow end up pushed against the wall so much that we want to just turn our back on the whole situation and fly off the ledge into what we know is sure disaster and self-sabotage, but it almost seems better than this worse case scenario.
Ever been there? Clearly, I’m speaking from experience.
My first encounter with the ledge was in my second pageant. The first pageant I did I had no chance of winning and I didn’t really care to win, I was just doing it for fun. But, my second pageant was a local preliminary title that would qualify me to compete at the state pageant in the Miss America system. It also happened to come with a big chunk of scholarship gold and it took place in my home community in a grandstand that sat over 2,000 people. There were 2 weeks of daily rehearsals before the pageant day. I signed up for the pageant because I wanted to dance in front of this huge audience, which I hadn’t done in my 20 years of life. I definitely didn’t want to win, but ya know, I didn’t really know what a pageant was all about, so if I won that might be fun in all. It didn’t really matter; I just wanted to dance.
The first week of rehearsals was fun: we learned the opening number dance, practiced our talents, learned the walking patterns, did some mock interviews and met the other girls who were all awesome. We knew rehearsals would get more intense the next week since the pageant was getting closer.
At the end of week 1, I started thinking that I may actually be in the running for this title. I had a really great talent and was the only person really enjoying the interviews. That weekend, I forgot all about it and just kept practicing my dance over and over.
When we came back on Monday for rehearsal, I started paying attention more. I discovered I could potentially be in the top 3. That night, I called my sister, Amy. She’s older than me an she’s an engineer, so she was my go-to for solid, logical advice. She always knows what to say and how to say it, even today as adults.
I explained to her how I just wanted to dance and now I’m looking around and thinking I may accidently win this thing. I needed her advice of how I was gonna get out of it. Should I quit or should I just do badly the rest of the pageant so I don’t win?
I was officially on the ledge.
I was asking how do I quit. I wasn’t asking for help through the fog, I was looking to get out of it with the fastest, easiest way possible. I wanted to give up completely.
Maybe you’ve been here before, in pageantry or in life. Where you are having an internal battle between jumping into a pit so you don’t have to face the looming plans you didn’t plan for….or turning around, walking into the room with your head held high and facing the music.
I have the wisdom of now knowing that God has plans for me (and for you). In Jeremiah 29:11, God declares,
For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
When I was on the phone with my sister, I was scared. I didn’t want a future in pageantry because I didn’t know what I was doing. It was my first time competing and they always said you had to do a few times before winning so if I won everyone was gonna be mad at me and the whole community would see me as a fraud and I was such a tom boy I didn’t really even like wearing heels and now I had to pretend I loved them if I won. Plus, how would I be able to balance everything with college and all I was involved in and did I really even want to give energy to a full year of service when I was going to be turning 21 soon?
I rattled all this off to Amy with panic so she would empathize. I expected her to jump in the circus of fear I’d built and play along. I’m so glad my sister didn’t jump into the circus of fear I built but rather shared a message of hope.
I still remember her response. It had very little emotion and was overly matter-of-fact. She simply said, Oh, just have fun with it. If you win, you can always give the crown back. People do that all the time.
Turns out, people actually don’t do that all the time. But, her advice removed my fear completely. This massive, grotesque, dark beast of fear I’d created was gone. It was so small and flippant now. I was like, She’s right. If it’s so bad, I’ll just give it up.
In an instant, she talked me off the ledge. After all, the worst thing that could happen was I’d win, and then I’d just smile and say to the first runner-up, “Oh, here you go, sweetie.” Hahaha!
Amy showed me another possible ending to the story. One that didn’t include all my built-up fear. One that was more hopeful and brighter than the hideous worst-case-scenario I’d thought up.
Today, is your day to get down from the ledge and find hope in your situation. We’re clearing the fog, sister! We’re going to take a calculated, logical approach. We’re releasing the emotion and looking at the facts.
Ready? It’s 2 steps…well, 3 really.
Step 1: Brainstorm all the worst-case-scenarios.
This one should be easy. This is the fog in your face that you’re stuck in now. It’s a big, hairy, scary What-Ifs you’ve been building up in your head for days, weeks, maybe even years. I find it’s easier to right them by starting them with “The worst thing that can happen is…”
Don’t waste your time thinking up ridiculous worst-case scenarios’ instead, look at what’s already got you frozen in fear.
Don’t be silly and say, I’ll fall and my pinky finger will go into a judge’s eye and they’ll go blind… I want you to dig up real, actual fears that could be keeping you from being your best self.
+ The worst thing that can happen is…I’ll win.
+ The worst thing that can happen is…I’ll lose.
+ The worst thing that can happen is…I’ll trip on stage.
+ The worst thing that can happen is…I’ll blank out during my interview.
+ The worst thing that can happen is…I’ll be made fun of for a few weeks.
You get the idea.
Step 2: The solution phase.
For every single line item that you believe is the worst-case scenario, I want you to come up with how you would realistically handle this if it really did happen to you. If you fell on stage, what would you actually do? Run off stage crying? No. You get up, smile, maybe laugh and keep walking. If you blanked out during your interview, would you stand there for an hour until someone brought you a glass of water? No. You’d be like, “I’m sorry I’m really nervous.” Then you’d think about an answer or say, “Could you ask me something else?”
See what I mean? We’re preparing for the worst-case scenario before it even happens.
Go through all of your worst-case scenarios and create a solution.
Now, the 3rd step is vital to this whole thing.
Step 3: Ask “Am I willing to go for it anyway?”
This is like asking yourself if you are willing to risk this worst case scenario for the opportunity to compete. Are you willing to risk the worst-case scenario for the hope of your future?
When my sister said I could give the crown back if in the worst case scenario I actually won It seemed totally reasonable to me. So much that if I did win I really did think I’d give up the crown the next day. I was willing to risk that. Of course, I’m not suggesting that truly be your out. But from my young perspective, it made sense.
For example, if the worst thing that can happen to you is that you could lose and that cute boy you like won’t ask you to the dance so you’ll have to go with your girlfriends…that’s probably not a good enough reason to quit. You’re likely willing to risk the lost dance date.
If the worst thing that can happen is your final answer will become a viral video and you’ll have to turn it into a Hollywood hosting career, you’re probably willing to risk it.
If the worst thing that can happen is your sick grandmother will pass away while you’re on stage and you haven’t seen her in 10 years, you may decide it’s not worth the risk. This would be a great reason to quit the pageant.
Read your full list back to yourself. Be honest are you willing to risk the worst-case scenario or is it wise to respectfully bow out?
The irony of the end of the story of my second pageant is this:
Three days after my sister talked me into sticking with it, I decided I actually wanted to win. My mindset completely turned around. (I believe now that God had this in my path and He didn’t want me to miss out on it).
I won the pageant.
I was given over $4,000 in scholarship dollars, placed in the top ten at the state pageant, impacted my entire community in a major way, met some of the most amazing leaders and mentors I’ve known, started a 10-year pageant career that led to a full-time coaching business. I have been blessed in order to be a blessing to others.
God knows what He’s doing. Don’t let fear be the thing that holds you back from your win.
Make your list of worse case scenarios and discover how you’ll overcome them so nothing can hold you back from what God has in store for you!
Because that, my dear, is how you win a pageant.
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