Thursday, February 19, 2015

On 1st Runner-up-itis, Perspective, and My Countdown to Pageant Week

       Hey friends!  It’s about time I get back to this beautiful thing called blogging.  Here in North Carolina we have about an inch of snow on the ground.  This warrants snow days, and to me, that’s a perfect excuse to make some tea and update you on my life.  I realized that post Miss New Jersey week, I took a nap that lasted approximately three days, and never updated my blog to express the many thoughts that come with the end of pageant week. 

(On top of napping, I also donated my hair and ate this beautiful ice cream sundae...#priorities)

       My first year at Miss New Jersey in June of 2013, I placed 1st runner-up and was absolutely ecstatic with my placement.  I had never guessed in a million years that I would place in the top five with women I had looked up to as role models the previous year.  My second year at Miss New Jersey in June 2014, I placed 1st runner-up again.  This time, while extraordinarily grateful for my successes during pageant week, I felt feelings of disappointment that had not been present the year before.  While in 2013 I ran to meet my fan club with the biggest smile on my face and was greeted by shrieks of excitement, in 2014, I felt meek when walking to meet my family and was greeted by sympathetic hugs and comforting words.  How is it that one year can change the way both contestants and audience members feel about the same placement?  Simply put, my expectations changed over the course of a year. While I was proud to have held hands and to have shared such a special moment with our beautiful Miss New Jersey, the smallest part of me felt the sting of defeat. 

Contrary to popular belief (looking at you, Richard Krauss), hand placement above or below your fellow contestant's hands does not have an impact on the outcome.  Shoutout to Cara and Cierra for being such lovely ladies and letting me share your crowning moment with you!
(2013 left, 2014 right)

       Here’s what I’ve learned through my multiple experiences with being 1st runner-up:  perspective will make or break your pageant experience.  I have found that there is a healthy balance between determination and humility that all pageant contestants and humans in general should strive to achieve.  Don’t get me wrong- I have never and will never expect to win any pageant title or job position.  I have learned through the Miss America Organization that it is healthy to have high expectations, but even healthier to accept when those expectations are not met. 
       This year, I was named Miss Gloucester County 2015.  To represent a county that has grown me to be the person I am is such a blessing.  It has been an honor to serve my community and team with various organizations such as Toys For Tots and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals as an ambassador for service, awareness and education.  I have traveled to numerous elementary schools and clubs to educate students on the importance of scattering kindness in their homes, schools, and communities.  My pageant sister, Kelcie, has become one of my very best friends, and together with our directors, we have cultivated a family.  We’ve bonded through community service, appearances, grueling gym sessions (thanks, Training Aspects!), and of course, shopping!  Altogether, 2015 has treated me unbelievably well (15 is my lucky number, after all). 

 We hugged for a solid few minutes when we we were crowned...that'll happen when your friend becomes your sister.

If you're wondering what's going on in this photo...we have the same good side.
 "Team Brenna" never ceases to amaze me- in full force even at a local pageant!

       Reflecting on my many years of pageantry and this year in particular, I am reminded that regardless of placement based on the opinions of seven judges, I am tremendously lucky.  While I am working my tail off to be my own version of Miss America, I see now that this alone is good enough for me.  Who knows?  Maybe the third time really is the charm!  I suppose we will have to wait to find out.  Until then, be sure to follow my social media accounts to stay up-to-date on my service endeavors and pageant progress:
Twitter: or @kcandvo
Instagram: or @keepcalmandvolunteeron

Follow Kelcie and I as we represent Gloucester County and South Jersey at:
Instagram: or @missgcandmisssj

       It’s been quite the year already, but I’m confident that the best is yet to come (even if that means temperatures higher than 60 degrees)!  One thing that will never change is my excitement for Miss New Jersey week.  The past few years I have had a perpetual countdown on my phone all year long, beginning the day after each Miss NJ week ends.  
 Did I mention we get to live by the beach for a week?

       It’s a gigantic slumber party with fellow rhinestone loving, fake eyelash wearing, talented, fabulous women, okay?  110 days if you were wondering ;)
            All my love,