Miss America Contestants: what are you really competing for?

Competing in the Miss America system was one of the biggest honors of my life thus far. However, I don’t think I knew, or anyone really does, what I was really competing for until after I started my year as Miss Colorado 2015.

We all say we are competing for the “job”, but what does that really mean?

I’ll start by telling you (in my opinion) what it does NOT mean. It does not mean you are competing for a shiny crown and a sash. You are not competing for notoriety. It does not mean you are competing so you can tell your friends you were on the Miss America stage. It does not mean free stuff. It does not mean more followers. Sure, in most cases those things come along with the “job”, but if that is why you are competing, you are doing the title a disservice. It is so much bigger than that. 

If you are competing in the Miss America system, my hope is that this experience is much more than glitz and glam to you. As a titleholder, you have access to so many people that you should be responsible enough to care about your contributions to the conversations with them. You should care about all the little girls who will look up at you and look up to you, want to be you, and need to hear that this organization is about serving others-- not being served. You are competing for an opportunity to be heard on a stage with an audience bigger than you can imagine. Do you have something meaningful to talk about? Something that matters to you and to others? You are competing for an opportunity to change the lives of others, give yourself to your passions and to your communities, and show little girls that while they may think you’re the most beautiful thing on the planet that you are also intelligent, kind, giving, and humble.

Now, I am not saying it is not okay to enjoy the glitz and the glam. You should! It is super fun to feel like a queen for an entire year! You should enjoy the beautiful feeling that keeping up with the “image” of the job will give you! That is totally fine! What I am saying is that your heart should not ONLY be in this for the crown and the sash, because that is not what you are competing for. And at the end of your year, I promise you, you won’t remember the fake eyelashes, earrings, and drama like you will remember the little girl fighting cancer who wanted to hug you a little bit tighter and wear your crown a little bit longer the day you visited her at Children’s. THAT is why you are competing. THAT is the job.

Good luck to everyone out there chasing this dream like I did. It is the time of your life no matter what the outcome. Promise me this, you’ll take one good look in the mirror before you head out on that stage and really outline why you want this incredible, crazy, tough, demanding, rewarding, and life-changing opportunity and what footprint you want to leave on the world propelling you into the next adventure once it is over. You owe it to your sisters, to your princesses, and to yourself to always remember that this job does not have as much to do with you as it does all the people who will define it for you.

Love to all,

Nurse Kelley, Miss Colorado 2015