Six months ago I thought it was going to feel horrible. I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I thought I would cry everyday and miss it with every ounce of my being. I thought I would feel envious, angry and territorial over what had been “mine” for 355 days. I thought I wouldn’t know who I was if I wasn’t Miss Colorado anymore. I thought I wouldn’t be important anymore.
Thankfully, none of that was true. Here’s the thing: when I dedicated an entire year of my life to this, it became who I was. I lived and breathed it. I loved everything about embodying the Miss Colorado persona, and at one point I feared life after the crown. But because I knew it would eventually end for me, I started preparing for that feeling and my new life a long time ago. You see, the Miss America system equips us all to be independently successful after our reigns, but it is up to US to be proactive in that opportunity and take the experiences, networking, and lessons that this year gave us to prepare for immediately after. That is what they want all of the state titleholders to do. Not to dwell on losing the crown and sash, but to thrive wildly with the adventures and lessons of being a forever state titleholder in our back pockets.
It was important to me to make choices throughout my year to maintain my identity as Kelley and never let myself feel satisfaction or validation of self-worth simply from the notoriety of the job. Instead, I felt those from how I knew I was doing the job and the kind messages from people all over about how I was doing the job. And because those will never go away, I found passing on the crown to be much easier than I had initially anticipated. The thousands of people who impacted my year as Miss Colorado liked me for Kelley. And after it is all said and done, I am still Kelley. And I can tell myself that crown or not, I am still important.
I have now explored “former life” for quite awhile, and I feel amazing. My life definitely has not slowed down. I have already been in twelve different states and have four more out- of-state adventures coming up in just the next two weeks. The Nurse Kelley brand and all of it’s components are thriving, my family is as wonderful as ever, I am booked with speaking engagements/photo-shoots/volunteerism/television/service both in state and out-of- state through 2017 already, and I feel more like myself than ever. I am so thankful for the incredible life I am living and the extraordinary opportunities that are coming in the near future. Stay tuned, my friends. This is all because of you.
All my love,
Kelley Johnson, RN, BSN, Nurse Kelley