Preparing to walk the mighty Miss Teen USA stage with 50 other beautiful teens from across the country consisted of pure determination. Whether it was perfecting my walk, body, speaking skills, or wardrobe, I reminded myself that I would never compete for this prestigious title again, and therefore I had to give every detail of my presentation my full effort. Of course becoming the next Miss Teen USA was my goal, but more importantly, I wanted to walk away from the experience with no regrets. I knew if I could do that, there was no way I would feel anything less than accomplished. After all, all I could really do was be the very best version of myself.
I will forever cherish my experience at Miss Teen USA. Meeting and befriending 50 stunning and sweet girls from every state was without a doubt a highlight of this incredible opportunity. At one point, I took a second to look around at them all. They were all so unique to their very state, and I felt like I had gotten a little taste of our entire country just by spending a few short days with them. They all deserved to be there and I couldn’t even begin to think about which one of our lives was going to change forever by winning the crown we all longed for.
On the night of the preliminary competition, I cleared my head of the hundreds of reminders I had and told myself consistently to JUST HAVE FUN. Before stepping in front of the audience, judges, and my friends watching back at home, I danced in my heels to shake the nerves. Surprisingly, I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I had expected I’d be. I mean, after all, I was competing for something I’d worked for everyday for the past 8 months. I was competing for the outcome of the rest of my life, but regardless of that, I knew that I wanted the judges to love me for ME. And throughout my entire process of preparation, I never lost sight of who I was. I was as ready as ever to showcase myself as the best possible version of myself that I could be, and that’s exactly what I did.
"I gave it my everything and left it all on the stage."
The next day was THE day. The day that one girl would be crowned the new Miss Teen USA. I thought to myself, today ISN’T a make it or break it day. Whether I walk away with the crown or not, whether I walk away with a top 15 placement or not, I’m still walking away with friendships and memories to last a lifetime. I’m still walking away with the opportunity of having been able to represent my beautiful state of Massachusetts. As I stood on the stage listening to the top 15 being announced, I reminded myself exactly of that. Sure I would be disappointed if I didn’t make the cut, but like I said, I had given it my all and I KNEW that I had zero regrets. More and more girls took their positions in the top 15 semifinalists. …13, 14, I counted. One spot left. Several states came to mind immediately. "It has to be her", I told myself. “MASSACHUSETTS!” My heart dropped and my 40 friends and family in the audience roared! If I could explain the feeling that came over me in that very moment, I would. I felt excited, relieved and successful to say the least.
Although my succession towards the crown stopped there, no experience has EVER left me feeling so accomplished. I gave it my everything and left it all on the stage. I competed to the best of my ability and truthfully had so much fun doing it. As much as I wanted to be moving to New York City as that one girl who won the crown, I couldn't be any happier with God's plan for me. I am also SO proud and happy for K. Lee Graham from South Carolina for becoming Miss Teen USA 2014! I’m so excited to see where this next year will take her.
All in all, this experience has instilled me with poise, confidence, and gratitude. I feel so grateful to have been able to bring together 40 of my closest friends and family in Paradise Island. I owe the world to my Team Massachusetts fan base that put me on a pedestal, screamed their hearts out for me, and brought me to tears of pure happiness with their over-the-top crazy love and support. So, I may not have taken the crown home, but their love is the greatest prize I could ever win and with everything said and done, it’s them who I am most thankful for.
This year has opened so many doors for me and I’m excited to continue following the path that I’m on. Who knows! Maybe you’ll see me on the Miss USA stage someday.