Do What Sets Your Soul On Fire

One week ago, I was honored to take on the job of serving as Miss Harbor Cities 2016. This title provides me with an opportunity to give back to the Manitowoc community, share my message about improving soft skill sets and workforce readiness, and vie for the job of Miss Wisconsin for a fourth time. In my interview, I was asked why I keep competing, having held three titles previous to this…that answer, my friends, is one that poured out from my heart instantaneously. I don’t care if you’re a titleholder or contestant within the Miss America Organization, an athlete, an individual pursuing your career, or simply trying to get by on a day to day basis; in life, you must do what sets your soul on fire. There is a reason why your heart gravitates towards certain things and people, listen to it. For me, one of my deepest passions in life includes the values, benefits, and most importantly, the people behind Miss America Organization. Initially when I began competing, I was 17-years-old and a senior in high school. I ended up placing as 3rd runner-up in my very first MAO pageant, Miss Wisconsin Rapids Area 2011; but in retrospect, I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing or what the organization was truly about. Sure, I continued competing in a couple opens and felt like a fish drowning in an ocean before capturing my first title on my fourth attempt, Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest 2012. However, those stepping stones leading up to joining the crazy, supportive, and life-changing Oktoberfest family were key points in ensuring I was indeed ready to take on a Miss America Organization title. After serving the La Crosse community (one of the craziest and most impactful years of my life), I went on to hold the title of Miss Seven Rivers 2014, and then Miss Madison-Capital City 2015. Then, two weeks ago I tried for the title of Miss Wisconsin Central 2015 and although I did not walk away with the crown, I stood on the stage with utmost pride as I watched two of my sisters be awarded a 1st runner-up finish (Malainey Myrin) and the new Miss Wisconsin Central (Tara Pizer). In my opinion, there’s something to be said about “failures” or as I like to put them, lessons. As I always say, “everything happens for a reason.” It’s key to remember that God’s timing is EVERYTHING. If you put the work, time, and energy  into ensuring you perform your very best at whatever you set out to achieve, you never truly “lose.” Each opportunity that you chase after, each experience is inadvertently a lesson to make you a stronger person. It’s one that makes you the person you’re meant to become and leads you down the correct path in life. Vince Lombardi once said, “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out for a good cause.” Read that over again, take it in (because he’s one of my favorites and that particular quote is extremely motivational).  Now, as I welcome three incredible directors into my life and a new, “little sister,” I’m proud to say that I’m absolutely honored to serve as Miss Harbor Cities 2016. Sometimes I pinch myself in disbelief when I reflect back on where I started and how far I’ve come. Undoubtedly, I’ve always been outgoing and goal-oriented, with a passion for community service; yet this organization has heightened those qualities to points I never thought were possible. It’s because of this organization that I made it through my sophomore year of college when I was struggling emotionally and academically. It’s because of this organization that I ultimately pursued a degree in Communication studies. It’s because of this organization that I acquired a sports broadcasting internship that lead me to my boyfriend and best friend. It’s because of this organization that I’ve established community connections that helped me attain a job as a Multi-Media Journalist after graduating from college…and it’s because of this organization that I’ve welcomed countless new relationships into my life. Including inspiring, loving, service oriented people who have changed not only my MAO journey forever, but my life story.  So why do I continue to compete, you ask? With each new title, person that I meet, and volunteer opportunity I partake in, I grow so much as an individual and learn more about myself, my values, and deepest desires. In relation, I also learn more about those around me; this my friends, is the epitome of the Miss America Organization and a lesson that I am eternally appreciative of. A sense of self is an invaluable perspective that everyone must gain at some point in their young adult life (in my opinion), but a sense of others, service, and selflessness, can sometimes be a harder lesson to grasp whole heartedly.  As for now, I’m continuing to chase after my dreams, shooting for the moon and if I miss it, I’ll simply land among the stars. Why? Because this is what sets my soul on fire and until my time has passed (or when I “age out” in pageant lingo), I will continue to listen to my heart and pour every ounce of energy I possess into helping others and making myself a better person. Thank you to my family and friends for the continued love and support you provide me. I don’t know how to ever express how much it means to me to have you all by my side. Thank you to the Miss Harbor Cities 2016 judges for seeing the passion, dedication, and potential that resides in me; I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity.

Here’s to making this year the best one yet!

XO

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