I'm baaaaaaack from camp rhinestone!
The week after Miss Tennessee I ate the worst possible foods I could (shoutout to dad for taking me to Krispy Kreme to get 4 dozen hot and ready doughnuts...I ate 3 and then felt sick.) and caught up on some much needed beauty rest.
I'm finally back on my diet, back into my regular workout routine, and finally feeling in the swing of things again.
Now that I've had time to reflect on my experience this year at Miss Tennessee, I thought the best way to organize everything was by writing it down.
First of all,
congratulations to the new Miss Tennessee, Grace Burgess!!! I know you're having a ball at orientation in D.C. and I know you're going to be amazing this year, no matter what happens.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU
to everyone who has supported me along this wild journey and supported this dream of mine.
Every text, phone call, post, email, tweet, sticky note, letter, or positive thought accumulated into an overwhelming amount of support which I was so blessed to have. This year especially, I felt so much love and positivity from my friends, family, as well as community. It's been really fun to see friends who have been involved since day 1, and new friends, who were excited to cheer me on this year. Nothing can describe the way it feels to look out into the audience and to see your closest friends smiling right back at you... and possibly holding an enormous cutout of your face. (It did make me laugh, so thank you if you chose to carry one!)
I can't begin to express my gratitude to those of you who have poured into me this year. To those of you who have given sleepless nights and long days to perfect my interview, I can't begin to thank you enough. You have given me the tools that I will use for years to come.
To those of you who have prayed over me and prayed for me, thank you. There's no way I can bear this journey alone. The only strength I have anymore to keep going and stay determined and stay the course is from Jesus. Thank you to those of you who prayed for me daily.
I wish I could put into words how thankful I am for everyone who showed their support by letting me know you were cheering me on via live stream at home or by coming to the pageant and screaming your lungs out. I knew that while I stood on that stage, no matter what happened, that at the end of the night I would be treated with smiling faces and be welcomed into the arms of people who I love.
And in the end, that's all I can ask for; To make my friends and family proud.
Thirdly, I wouldn't have changed a thing about my performance this year.
I had a lot of little "win's" for myself this year.
I learned to control my nerves onstage and perform like no one's watching.
I learned to "let go" of things out of my control.
(Even when you have the worst fever blister breakout on your lips and inside your mouth that you have had in your entire life.)
I learned to appreciate the little things.
(Like sweet gifts and encouraging notes from my Iris Princess, Summer.)
I learned to love the girls that I compete with at Miss Tennessee.
I think it's important that we as pageant girls understand that you are always competing WITH your Miss Tennessee sisters.
You are not competing AGAINST anyone except yourself.
At the end of the day you are all in this together.
We all understand the struggle when that wakeup call for morning workouts comes at 5 in the morning.
We all understand that you want a doughnut and not another piece of tilapia.
So embrace each other!
Encourage each other!
These are the memories that will last a lifetime!
These women that you stand alongside in June are women that are involved for the same reasons you are. They want to better their communities and further their platform causes...they care about changing the world.
These women may be the ones who stand next to you on your wedding day so SEIZE that moment and make these precious 7 days of pageant week count by reaching out.
Get to know each other and spend time together.
I loved getting to know my co crown, Madison Butler, Miss Smoky Mountains this year. She has been a rock when I've needed it and boy, am I thankful for her!
I have no doubt in my mind that we will be friends for a lifetime,
and I have the Miss America Organization to thank for that.
I've learned to embrace the competitive side of this pageant while also recognizing that there are only 35 other girls in the State who understand what I am going through and preparing for, and the best thing I can do for myself is to treat these girls as what they are, My Miss Tennessee Sisters.
One of the most valuable lessons that I have walked away with this year was learning to love the process.
Embrace the moments on the treadmill when you don't think you can run anymore.
You'll be better for it.
Embrace the moment of eating that piece of unseasoned tilapia that you're just not sure you can stomach.
You're forming healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
LOVE those moments when you have practiced and practiced and practiced current events and where you stand on issues and you're just not sure you can retain anymore information.
I promise, you'll be better for it.
I've learned to embrace the struggle.
And I am so thankful, because it's made me stronger.
Victory tastes the sweetest when you know that you've earned it.
And lastly, No, I don't know what's next for me.
There are a lot of decisions to be made in the near future and I have yet to make my mind up, but I do know this.
My journey, whether it be with Miss America, the Alzheimer's Association, Children's Miracle Network or otherwise, is far from over.
Thank you all for keeping up with this crazy dream of mine.
I can't wait to see what God has planned for me next.
All my love,