By: Alissa Anderegg, Miss Contra Costa County
In this digital age, young women are constantly exposed to seemingly perfect women with their carefully curated collections of filtered selfies, bikini pics, and cleverly captioned photos featuring their designer-clad friends. While scrolling through these social media profiles, sometimes it can be a little too easy to compare our own lives (where, for example, I’m currently sitting on the floor in PJs with wet hair next to a Chipotle burrito bowl!), to the lives of these other women that appear so perfect.
At my alma mater of Duke University, many of my female peers referred to this phenomenon as the quest for “effortless perfection.” In late night venting sessions with my girlfriends over a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, we shared our struggles of feeling like we needed to live up to a certain ideal: a popular size 2 with straight A’s, top internships, perfect skin, fashionable clothes, all while making it seem like everything came naturally. However during these ice cream late nights, we would always remind each other that we didn’t need validation from others. Rather, we needed to remember an essential rule: do what makes you happy and be yourself.
Miss CoCo’s Five Tips for being “imperfectly perfect”:
Explore your passions.
Finding your passion is the first step to embracing your uniqueness. Growing up, my confidence came from singing on stage. Working so hard for an end goal and hearing the audience applaud my efforts made me feel like a million bucks! As I got older, I found even more I was passionate about, from Alzheimer’s advocacy to volunteerism, all of which shaped me into the person I am today and gave me the confidence to be 100% myself.
Sometimes passions change, and that’s okay! Because of my work with Alzheimer’s, I originally was a neuroscience major with dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon. However, as I took different classes and worked in internships (my favorite was The TODAY Show in New York City!), I realized that my passion wasn’t so much in the neuroscience itself, but rather in the advocacy by sharing stories to make a lasting impact. Therefore, in my junior year I made a complete 180 and switched into pursuing broadcast journalism. Although at the time it was a terrifying leap, looking back I now realize that it was totally okay that I didn’t have my life perfectly planned out at the age of 20. We don’t need to always know the path ahead of us. By embracing change and being open to possibilities, life’s challenges can transform into new and exciting opportunities.
Whenever I feel lost or down, I turn to the words that inspire me the most. Whether it’s the lyrics to some pump-up, girl power jams or my journal of favorite quotes, these words empower me to live my life in the present and embrace every moment. One of my favorite sources of inspiration is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, a must-read for any woman. Her words challenge me to not only think, but act, while offering an important question to always be thinking about: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
Surround yourself with those you admire.
Whether it’s a best friend, coach or mentor, surround yourself with people who make you feel undeniably confident and beautiful. Becoming part of the Miss America Organization has given me a sisterhood of talented, driven women who I look up to everyday and many who I consider some of my closest friends. These girl bosses lift me up and make me feel like I can take on anything with them by my side. I’m constantly in awe of their accomplishments and hard work, and they inspire me to become the best me I can be!
Just think: there is nobody exactly like you in the entire world. And that’s an incredible thing! Embrace your uniqueness. Celebrate your quirks. Be unapologetically you… whether you’re blasting music in a road trip with your best friends or walking across the stage at Miss California! Because you are imperfectly perfect.
Miss Contra Costa County 2017
Follow me in my preparation for Miss California at @MissContraCosta on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!