At the end of each year, we see a phrase inevitably being adopted by those around us: “new year, new me.” The yearly recaps posted on social media by friends and family nearly always come accompanied by a new set of goals for the coming year. For example, last year I tried to give up chocolate to curb my chocoholic addiction once and for all… but anyone who knows me knows that wasn’t going to happen. 😉 (*types as I finish off the foot of my See’s chocolate Santa)
Admittedly, the last couple weeks I found myself scrolling past these multi-paragraph posts, feeling too busy with my crazy holiday schedule to take a break to read them. Over New Years while on vacation with friends, I had been focusing on my own resolution of being more present with those around me… and less with my face in my phone. So on the long plane ride home I realized I finally had the perfect opportunity to take the time to read those lengthy New Years posts that had been flooding my newsfeed the weeks prior.
After nearly two hours of reading, liking, commenting and adding loved ones’ thoughts to my own 2018 goals, I came to an eye-opening conclusion: Nearly every resolution I saw could somehow be linked to the ideals promoted by the Miss America Organization. I found this incredible because one of the most common questions I hear from pageant naysayers is how Miss America is still relevant today. Yet right on my screen were dozens of friends writing about how they were hoping to accomplish the same goals in 2018 that we as MAO titleholders set out for every year. This got me thinking… if all these resolutions are somehow linked to what we as titleholders strive to embody on a daily basis, then this idea helps validate what we’ve been promoting all along.
So, my friends, I give you the Top 5 News Years resolutions in the U.S. … and how the Miss America Organization helps young women around the country achieve them:
- Eat healthier/exercise more: One of the most well-known categories of the Miss America competition is Lifestyle and Fitness, or swimsuit. What many people are surprised to hear is how empowering this phase is to the contestants. For months, we work out, fuel our bodies with the healthiest foods and push ourselves to reach our fitness goals to walk on stage feeling more confident than ever. Every body is different, and the Miss America Organization embraces this. It’s not about who is the skinniest. It’s not about which contestant looks resembles a Victoria’s Secret model. Rather it’s about celebrating our individual commitments to leading healthy and active lifestyles… and feeling undeniably empowered in the process.
- Read more: As local titleholders, we read A LOT: newspapers, books, news apps, anything we can get our hands on to stay informed about the world around us. We listen. We observe. And we formulate educated opinions to stand up for our beliefs and do our part to make a difference. We do this all not just to prepare for our 10-minute interview with the judges (where we can be asked anything from our knowledge of current events to questions about ourselves to our stances on hot topic world issues). Rather, we do this because as ambassadors for our communities and for this scholarship program, we know it’s our duty to be active citizens with courage of our convictions. We stand on stage with bright lights hitting our face, thousands of eyes on us, and television cameras broadcasting our every move to viewers around the country… and answer questions that could trip up even a seasoned politician. Every year, I can’t help but watch these women on stage and be incredibly impressed by their poise and intelligence in the face of pressure.
- Learn something new: As titleholders, we are constantly learning new things to improve and grow throughout our preparation for Miss California and year as local representatives. However, what we learn is unique to each woman as we propel through our personal journeys of self-improvement. For me, every phase of competition acts as a motivator to work on the areas of my life that I’d want to excel in whether I was competing or not. The organization encourages me to embrace my talents, be more involved in my community, stand up for causes I care about and act as a role model to the younger generation.
- Save money: While this is a New Years resolution I always am working to improve on (your girl is a sucker for a cute pair of shoes), competing in the Miss America Organization alleviates an incredible amount of financial burden. Why? Because the Miss America Organization is the world’s largest scholarship provider for women in the world. I’ve been so fortunate to have earned over $10,000 throughout my years competing to help fund my undergraduate degree at Duke University (Go Blue Devils!) and my upcoming Master’s at Northwestern. Miss America, Cara Mund, has earned $95,000 to help fund her degree at Brown. That’s truly incredible! And the best part is that you can compete on a budget and still be successful. My first year at Miss California’s Outstanding Teen in 2008, I bought my entire competition wardrobe at Forever 21 and on eBay. Last year, I had the help of my committee and some incredible sponsors to help a broke college girl feel like a million bucks on the Miss California stage. These sponsors and volunteers are the backbone of the organization and work tirelessly to help participants grow, learn and feel confident.
- Be nicer/kinder/more patient: Finally, what I appreciate most about the Miss America Organization is the sisterhood we share. The women I have met through this organization are some of the most encouraging, driven and ambitious women I have had the privilege of knowing. Their philanthropic hearts propel them to make a difference in their communities and be role models to everyone they meet. Through our platforms (mine is Alzheimer’s Awareness in memory of my grandma Mary Fran), we pinpoint our passions, devise marketable strategies to promote our causes, and follow through to make a difference. We project positivity and strive to make every person we encounter feel important. And that is always relevant.