When I competed in pageants when I was younger, I remember standing on stage as the emcees prepared to call the tenth finalist to the top ten. Without exception, they'd always ask for the audience to applaud for every contestant, stating that "Every girl up here is a winner."
I'm going to be honest, I probably rolled my eyes. I certainly didn't believe that EVERY one of us were winners. After all, it was a competition, and there would only be one winner.
Well here I am, three days away from leaving for Miss Virginia, and I just have to pause to reflect for a second: I have already won.
I have already won because two years ago, I was 35 pounds heavier than I am today, unhealthy, and battling disordered eating.
I have already won because in my quest to become Miss Virginia, I have never compromised what I stand for or who I am.
I have already won because since being crowned Miss Great Springfield, I have run two full marathons, a sub two-hour half marathon, and a 24:20 5k; feats I could only dream of this time last year.
I have already won because to the 18 little girls I coach, the hundreds of elementary school children I have spoken to, and the college students I have met, I am already Miss Virginia.
That's the beauty of the Miss America Organization; in our pursuit of the job of Miss Virginia, each of the 26 local titleholders have touched countless lives, and are already Miss Virginia in the eyes of the people we have impacted.
Instead of choosing a winner from 26 contestants, our judges are choosing the representative of a group of 26 winners.
We have all already won.
And with that, I am ready to begin my one week job interview for a job that I both want very much and am ready to take on. I am ready to be 100% authentic, and I am ready to share my story.
Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, well wishes, tweets/Facebook posts/Instagrams. I appreciate all of them very much, and I promise to do my best in Roanoke. You can watch preliminaries and finals on webcast at missva.tv, or, if you're in the DC area, finals will be televised on CW50 on Saturday, June 29th, at 9pm.
Let's do this.