Look in the Mirror… That’s Your Competition

If I had one dollar for every time I heard “Be Yourself!” I could probably pay off my student loans and the entire Miss California scholarship and still have some left over for a new evening gown. Although cliché sayings like that usually make me cringe, this one is so important. On the road to success, there is no one better to be than yourself.

northvalleyWho am I? My name is Morgan Edwards. I am a 22 year old graduate from CSU Fresno with a bachelor’s degree in Child Development, an advocate for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and this year’s Miss North Valley Regional. This will be my third time competing for the Miss California crown. In these past three years there is one lesson I’ve learned that stands out above the rest and that is… drum roll… BE YOURSELF! Comparing yourself to others dilutes your own uniqueness.

As many pageant girls would probably say, my first time competing was a mess. I had no idea what I was doing. I was wide eyed and in awe of everything that was going on around me. Somehow I won my first local pageant and was crowned Miss Fresno County 2012. I had many people prep me for Miss California and I felt like I was ready for anything. Then pageant week was here. I was immediately intimidated by my fellow contestants and was sure every single one of them was prettier, smarter, more talented and more prepared than I was. I questioned everything about my wardrobe down to my evening gown shoes (which I had a minor panic attack about before I went on stage). As the week went on I went through every phase of competition to the best of my ability and somehow the stars aligned and put me in the Top 10. WOW. I remember thinking “How in the world did I manage to do that?” I was so focused on comparing myself to the other girls that I had no idea how well I was doing!

IMG_1867After that experience, my second time at the Miss California Pageant was completely different. As Miss Clovis 2014 I was more confident than ever, loved every piece of my wardrobe because I chose it on my own, and was more myself in interview than I had been before. I worked hard on making sure I was being the best version of myself in every phase of competition. Although I did not make the Top 15 that year, I felt like I had already accomplished something much greater and that was being confident with being completely me in every way! I was not concerned with thinking what the other girls did better than me to get their places in the Top 15 because I was satisfied with my own performance.

In the wonderful world I live in also known as “Pageant Land,” it is so easy for me to be engrossed in comparing myself to the amazing women around me. Once I stopped doing that, I was free to be me. One of the silliest interview questions I’ve ever been asked was, “What makes you different from the other contestants?” I could have spent my entire interview on that question alone, but I had to move on. I answered “I am M.E. Morgan Edwards. There is no one else like me in this competition. We are all completely different. There is never going to be another Leah Cecil, Crystal Lee or Marina Inserra. Every single girl here is unique, exceptional, and irreplaceable.”

f052b14a7cd16a054ba404c02de69718Of course this does not only pertain to us pageant ladies. Our society is filled with messages that we are not good enough or could be better. We are constantly surrounded by images of women who seem to be superior. From social media to advertisements, it never ends! It is important to remember “the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” I challenge YOU to stop comparing and start enjoying yourself for the person you are! Be yourself! Everyone else is already taken.

-Morgan Edwards

Miss North Valley Regional 2015

Show Some Love on Valentine’s Day

Bree (at right) with her mom and sister

Bree (at right) with her mom and sister

Before I get into the real reason for this blog, I just wanted to introduce myself and say thanks for stopping by our page! My name is Bree Morse and in January I was fortunate enough to be crowned Miss Orange Coast 2015. I’m excited for the year that lies ahead of me and to have the opportunity to share my experiences with you (you can follow me on Instagram at @missorangecoast)!

Valentine’s Day is soon approaching, and whether or not you have that “special someone,” there is probably a part of you screaming “Great. What do I do now?” Most likely, there’s also part of you hoping that an admirer will send you a special delivery of a 5lb box of See’s Candy. At least I’m guilty of both of these thoughts. In all actuality, Valentine’s Day was not always associated with secret admirers, flying babies with a bow and arrow, and excessive amounts of confectionery hearts. Originally a religious holiday, it wasn’t until the 1300’s that the holiday became associated with romance. In the 1840’s, along came mass produced Valentine’s Day cards that would soon establish February 14th as a prominent consumer holiday. I can’t imagine that they had the One Direction valentines at that time, but the tradition of letting someone know that you care about them has carried on ever since.

Don't forget your favorite Valentine-themed clothes!

Don’t forget your favorite Valentine-themed clothes!

For as long as I can remember, Valentine’s Day has been one of my favorite holidays of the year. Every February 14th my sister and I would wake up even earlier just to have our mom French braid a heart into the back of our heads as we wrote out valentines to our classmates (One year I had Lisa Frank cards with matching pencils. At that point I thought for sure my life was made). After leaving the house with the perfect hair-do, it was off to school to pass out your notes of admiration then to see what you received in return. There was nothing better than the feeling of untying the yarn holding closed your craft-time mailbox to see kindness and compassion of your peers spill out onto your desk (the candy and pencils weren’t bad, either).

To this day, I cannot overstate the importance of making the holiday special for those you care about. My mom doesn’t French braid my hair in the mornings, but on that day I still find every single heart-adorned accessory and clothing item that I own to show my love for Valentine’s Day. So this year, regardless if you’ll be going to a fancy dinner with your Valentine or if your special someone is your cat (let’s face it, my cat Stanley is quite a catch), challenge yourself to go out of your way to let someone know that you care about them. It’s a kind gesture as simple as telling someone they look nice, that they made you smile the other day, or even giving them that prized Lisa Frank pencil. Although the 5 lb box of candy will definitely not be turned down, it’s the essence of Valentine’s Day that makes it so special – to love, and be loved. Who could pass that opportunity up?!

All my best,
Bree Morse
Miss Orange Coast

Miss California Marina Inserra’s Preliminary Talent At Miss America

Tonight, Wednesday, September 10, Marina competed in the preliminary talent portion of preliminaries. Watch below as she sings “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables!