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.
Who 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!
After 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.”
Of 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.
Miss North Valley Regional 2015