I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Well, reminiscing is more like it. I talked to one of my friends yesterday, who is still in high school. She recently won Teton's Junior Miss, and will have the opportunity to go to the state competition this fall. Little does she know just how much Junior Miss is going to impact her life! It is literally one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that shapes each and every girl who has this rare opportunity.
As I was telling her everything about what to expect at State, and then some, I began to reminisce over my Junior Miss experience. Although it was almost three years ago (time flies!) that I was named Sugar-Salem's Junior Miss, I remember it like it was yesterday! The months of preparation, the smiles, the sleepless nights, the tears, the laughter, the extreme exhaustion, everything!
Looking back on it now, I can honestly say Junior Miss was the thing that made me who I am today. Before I decided to participate at the local level, I was shy, withdrawn, kept mostly to my group of friends, and didn't really go out of my way to meet others. Throughout the course of the four months of preparation leading up to the local program, I started to become less and less introverted, and more willing to go out of my way to meet new people and have new life experiences.
I can honestly say being named Junior Miss was one of the biggest shocks of my entire life! Up to that point, I had never, ever been given an opportunity ever remotely close to this! That night, Mom and I sat up so late talking that by time we went to bed, it was almost dawn! Even then, I was so excited I couldn't sleep because the reality of what had transpired that evening began to sink in. This was no small thing by any means. Junior Miss was to be my life for the next year!
State was incredible. Each and every one of the 37 other girls were amazing! At the start of the week, none of us knew each other, but within a matter of days, we became lifelong friends, sharing experiences few other people get to have. From the dawn til dusk practices, the visit to the Veteran's Hospital, photo shoots, worrying about our interview, and having a blast onstage in front of five judges and thousands of people, we laughed and cried through it all. Even the soreness we experienced after learning the fitness routine was memorable! Although I didn't win any award at state, I had the time of my life! I had learned so much and made so many memories and friends, it felt as if I had won!
However, the most rewarding part of Junior Miss came after State was done, and I got to help 14 new girls prepare for our 2008 local program, where I would hand off my title to another. The change I saw in these girls was nothing short of unbelievable! I think this was the only time in my life when I have enjoyed getting up at 5 am three times a week to teach the routines to the girls! I poured my heart and soul into everything. I wanted them to have a taste of the experience that I had. Junior Miss literally consumed my thoughts 24/7! To this day, I can still do all the routines I taught them, as well as all the others I learned at state and the 2007 local program!
The night of the program came and went, and Lindsay was named Junior Miss 2008. It was a bitter sweet experience doing my final walk, because although I was ready to hand off my title, in some ways I didn't want everything to end! It felt like I had been living in a dream for a year and a half!
Looking back on that journey now, I can see how it transformed my life. Not only did I find in myself confidence, but was able to discover and develop countless abilities I never knew I possessed! It refined and helped mold me into the woman I have become today. I can honestly say if I had the chance to go back and do it again, not changing a thing, I would! To this day, I strongly believe every girl should do Junior Miss! And to those of you who say, "It's all in the name" when it comes to the winner, it is not. I was not one of those girls with "the name" and yet, I won the local program. The 'name' has NOTHING to do with any of the decisions made in regards to Junior Miss, especially since the judges do not know the girls or their families! Junior Miss is more than a "pageant" as some call it. It is a chance for each and every girl to discover who they are! Regardless of the award outcomes, it is truly a life changing experience!