According to my past experiences, the final days leading up to pageant felt a lot like waiting in line for a roller coaster ride, or waiting to be called into the surgery room get your wisdom teeth extracted using only local anesthesia. There have been times in instances like these in which I have been tempted to back out (and believe me, I have escaped from the oral surgeon’s waiting room before; long story, but it explains why I still have 2 wisdom teeth left!). This time, I knew I was in line for one of those moments in life in which I knew I would absolutely dread the wait leading up to it, constantly have to answer to myself as to why I’m doing it, have mixed emotions while going through it, and be so relieved when it’s finally over. Yet, I also realized that when I completed it, I would be so glad to have done it. My pageant experience was no different.
On the day of pageant, I started my day too-too-early-for-a-Sunday by heading over to my super nice make-up artist’s studio. Luckily we had planned to meet up 15 minutes earlier than scheduled, because I arrived to the theater with only several minutes to spare! Practice took place shortly afterwards and I immediately felt comfortable with the cute size of the stage and the not-so-intimidating amount of theater seating. I practiced scanning the audience for the seats in which I knew my family and friends would be sitting in, so that I could make sure to share enough eye contact love between them and the judges during the show. After the dry practice run was over, we returned to our dressing rooms to wait for the cue to showtime. I took my mind off the wait by practicing my walks and timing the minutes as to when I should begin doing touch-ups to my hair and makeup as taught by my awesome makeup artist. Right before the show began, the pageant Executive Director and one of the advisors shared final words with the contestants before we were quickly ushered out to the wings of the stage.
Hearing the restlessness of the audience through the stage curtains, and catching glimpses of guests who sat in the far right seats from behind stage was the moment in which I had a reality check: Oh darn, I was actually going to give everyone sitting out there and possibly all future generations 3 hours worth of material to judge me, and form their impressions of me, on… willingly! Not knowing whether it would turn out to be good, bad, in-between, or one of the extremes was something I tried not to think or care too much about. The entire show happened exactly how it was previously described to us: too fast. In between being on stage and rushing to the dressing rooms to get changed, we were all constantly kept moving. I honestly did not know which ao dai or evening gown I would choose to wear until it was time to get dressed since I had brought 2 of everything, with the reasons being slightly out of preparedness, but mostly out of indecisiveness!
For me, the most nerve-wracking part of the whole pageant was my decision to participate in the talent portion. I knew that after I passed this portion, everything else would come easy for me in comparison. I didn’t give a flawless performance, but I learned that I should never doubt my finger memory. Yes, maybe I was embarrassed, but I didn’t exactly die from it either! Considering that life inevitably guarantees us this kind of moment at some point in our lifetime… I have to truly appreciate what happened because before this day, I honestly can’t pinpoint any other experience in which I would have considered it to be. Since I had already dealt with all of my nerves for the talent portion, I no longer knew how to be nervous during the Top 7, Top 5, or crowning moments. These moments simply entered my mindset as “it is what it is”.
I am so proud of all of the contestants for presenting ourselves on stage in front of our friends, families, and supporters, and those of the other contestants, past court members, and pageant staff. It’s not so easy to do. I was aware that regardless of what happened that day, we would have won in our own ways in terms of what we gained from pageant. The experience has definitely changed us all whether it be noticeable, or not. For me, I learned that it’s not so bad to share myself with others. From the very beginning, I was intent on not letting too many people know that I decided to participate in a pageant other than my closest friends and immediate family. However, throughout the course of pageant, I ended up telling more people about it than I had ever thought that I would. I was honestly surprised by the amount of support I received because I never realized that my past friends, acquaintances, or colleagues would maybe care as to what I was currently doing in my life. This was my biggest (and best) realization that I learned due to being apart of pageant. I’m so thankful for everyone’s support!!! In addition, I’m glad to have met so many wonderful people throughout this experience and to know that we’ll still be able to keep in touch long after pageant. For the upcoming year as part of the 2014 Court, I hope that I can serve the community and represent MVNCI to the best of my ability, and to use this opportunity to hopefully inspire others positively in some way whether it be big or small.