I’m Amy Montes-Espinoza and Miss San Joaquin County 2017.
I am a first-time title holder and have never competed in a pageant before. To be honest, I never thought I would do anything like this at all. I am blessed to say that my family and friends have always been my greatest and most wonderful support system. They have always stood by me and encouraged me to pursue any dream I wished to make a reality. I have always had people who believed in me but the one thing I struggled with is believing in myself.
A few years ago, if you were to tell me that I would step up on stage and compete for a title within the Miss California Organization I would have laughed and said “yeah right, not me”. Growing up I have always been a happy girl but not a very confident one. Before competing in the Miss San Joaquin County pageant, I never told anyone that I wanted to compete or what that would mean to me. As a young girl, I had many dreams and aspirations to try new things and put myself out there but I never even shared that with anyone. Why? I did not believe that I could achieve the goals that I had for myself. My lack of self-confidence kept me from not only doing things I always wanted to do but it also kept me from sharing my dreams and ideas with others.
Now I have always been a happy girl who strives to have a positive outlook on things. One of my daily goals has always been to greet each day with a smile. Something my mom has always told me is that with God and hard work, anything is possible. Even with my positive attitude and hearing encouraging words my entire life, I believed those words of wisdom to be true for others but not myself. I shared my mom’s words of wisdom with others and have shared a few words of encouragement of my own to friends and family. My turning point occurred years ago, when I realized how ironic it was that I could encourage others in their pursuit towards their dreams but I wasn’t able to encourage myself. I then asked, why was I not practicing what I preached? Why did I continuously doubt myself when everyone around me did nothing but cheer me on? After questioning myself, I decided to make a change and so it happened.
Today I am still the same happy girl I have always been. I still strive to see the glass half full no matter what and I still make it a goal to greet each day with a smile. The one thing that has changed is that each morning I wake up convinced that with enough hard work, dedication, positivity, and prayer I can reach any goal I set for myself. Also, I am confident in the person that I have become and the person I am continuing to grow into. I am not afraid to show people that I am a total dork who spends most her day laughing, is obsessed with dresses and pearls, and drinks an excessive amount of coffee each day. I am a person who tries to continuously bettering herself and wishes to better the world around her. I am not afraid to be transparent in who I am and present my dreams and ideas to others. I am happy to say, I am confidently me.
This change didn’t happen overnight and it also hasn’t been easy. There are days where I feel truly confident and other days where I struggle with that. On the days where I struggle I take a step back and look at how far I have come and how far I wish to continue to go. As I said before, I have been blessed with a great support system and have always heard positive words of encouragement. But I would have never been able to start reaching my full potential or have the courage to take on the adventures life has given me without first believing in myself. Years ago, a less self-confident me would have never even considered taking the chance to compete for the title of Miss San Joaquin County even if I wanted to. I would have closed that door on myself without even checking to see if it would open and I had a tendency of doing that in many areas of my life. But hey, everything happens for a reason! Without my experiences of lacking self-confidence, I wouldn’t be able to share this story with you all. I have also had experiences with bullying and have seen people close to me be bullied as well. But those experiences have led me to become an anti-bullying advocate and create my anti-bullying platform as Miss San Joaquin County. I have learned that every experience is a lesson that helps us grow into the person we were meant to become. My experiences pushed me to find my voice and self-confidence and to start living the life I always wanted to live.
To anyone struggling with finding their own self-confidence or if you are simply having a rough day, I would like to leave you with a quote by A.A. Mines, author of Winnie the Pooh. “You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think”. You are loved and you are more than capable to live the life you wish to live no matter what anyone else has told you. So here’s to living with confidence in ourselves! Let us look at the glass half full. Let us not be arrogant but let us be humble and spread this positivity to others. Let us take the risk and believe in ourselves. Let us believe we have the ability to make our dreams come true. And let us believe we are capable of taking on the adventures life brings us because we never know which experience may change our lives forever.
Thanks for reading beautiful people!
-Amy Montes-Espinoza, Miss San Joaquin County 2017