This past week, my social media news feed was flooded with posts from friends declaring both their pride and disappointment after weeks of competition at both Miss SC and Miss NC. Oh how I remember those days. But fortunately, I didn’t live through that experience during the days of instant access and social media.
My friends and family never had the chance to post (for all the world to see) how proud they were of me or how disappointed they were that I didn’t win the state title. My committee couldn’t publicly post how frustrated they were with the system (right or wrong) or how understanding they were about the outcome over which they had no control.
Everything about the process was different then. But the outcome is the same.
I never won Miss South Carolina. To this day, there are people who still think I did. But they obviously didn’t live through the excruciating pain I suffered for weeks after the state pageant. They weren’t the ones picking me up off the floor that was a result of one disappointment after another. You see, those people who still think that only know me now as a struggling (but sometimes successful) businesswoman, community leader, public servant and – yes – a “has been beauty queen.”
Those people who know me now (versus then) see videos and photos and still believe I was Miss SC (I’ve learned that saying to them “no I never actually won” doesn’t really work…they think I’m just being modest). But to be fair, my resume today (which in addition to my awards and community service also includes many years as an executive director of three local Miss America preliminaries and volunteer of the year for the Miss NC Pageant) certainly looks like I COULD have been Miss SC. Then you add to that the fact that I still talk about the experience on a regular basis and in a positive light…
So that’s the funny part about my story. When people introduce me today as a “former Miss SC” (it happens more often that you might think), I smile politely and say “not exactly” – and then have to explain that even though I came close a few times, I never actually won the title. There are those who are surprised and those who are flabbergasted (in a complimentary kind of way, of course.) I am, however, honored to still be friends with the young ladies who DID win Miss SC when I competed. I am so proud to call them friends and see all they accomplished both during and after their year of service.
The only thing that really matters is this…everyone accepts me for who I am…former Miss SC or not. And here we are 20-something years later (but who’s counting?) still discussing my participation in an organization that I love, respect and more importantly, still support as one of the best and most fulfilling things of my life.
I’d be lying if I said I never look back and wonder “what if” I had actually won Miss SC and how my life would have been different (but that’s for another post – stay tuned). But mostly I just smile and thank God for the opportunity to be just another “has been beauty queen” who has been given amazing opportunities to inspire, educate, motivate and serve. In spite of not being given a state crown and a microphone to share my passion.
Hey maybe that ended up working out okay for me after all…