Miss Michigan Recap and Debrief – what the heck happened to me

The following is a long overdue word-vomit on my Miss Michigan experience:

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I’ve never been speechless before. Talking and writing are some of my favorite hobbies, and I don’t usually struggle to put my ideas into words. But the reason I’ve put off this update post for so long is because I honestly do not know how I feel about Miss Michigan week.

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I need to begin by saying that the girls were incredible, out of this world, outstanding, amazing, absolutely indescribable. Starting the day with sleepy smiles and ending with candid conversations in the suite (WHAT HAPPENS IN THE SUITE STAYS IN THE SUITE), these girls were the highlight of the experience. Yes, they were kind, letting me borrow fake eyelashes, sharing butt glue in dressing rooms, and always helping zip each other in and out of dresses. But there’s so much more. Bonding over hundreds of cups of coffee, painfully honest conversations on awful boyfriends (CLIP EM LADIES), twirling a Tahitian dancer’s props in the hallway (but mostly getting hit in the face)… somewhere between the brutally early mornings and late nights, somewhere over the trays of room service, and between quick changes in the basement of the theater, magic happened with the 34 contestants. I made dozens of new friends, strengthened old bonds, and learned about life and myself through these young women.

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I also need to say that I love pageants for teaching me how to be me. I’m the best, most polished version of myself when I’m in pageant mode. As exhausting as that may be, it was great to feel “on” for a full week.

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Okay, I can’t keep going without touching on the exhaustion. Everyone told me Miss Michigan week would be tiring, but I had no idea. I barely slept, barely ate, and could barely move at the end of the week. The physical exhaustion, however, was nothing compared to the emotional and mental depletion. There were nights (especially at the afterglow) when all I could do was sit and cry because I was absolutely drained, like I had run out of smiles during the day. And I’m annoyed with myself for not being able to describe that any better, but I can’t put a week’s worth of fatigue into words.

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The rest of the week was stained with something I still don’t know how to put in words. I’ve been trying to describe it as “a bad vibe” or “darkness” or just “really really weird.” Whatever it is, I didn’t like it, and I don’t know where it came from. Maybe it was the culmination of the most difficult year of my life coming out during pageant week, a year of stress finally manifesting itself? I can’t put it into words, and it’s infuriating because I need to talk about it. Not just for myself, but for others who may feel the same.

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The week was incredible. I had a great time. I made friends, made memories, got a $500 scholarship just for showing up, was treated like a celebrity all week, volunteered in the local community, and truly lived an adventure of a lifetime. But somehow, I came back feeling… I don’t know. Not myself.  I “lost my sparkle” at Miss Michigan – the glittery bit of my personality that defines me. I don’t know how or why, but I came back different.

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None of this saying “oh, the pageant was awful and now I’m depressed and not myself and I blame the pageant and the girls wah wah.” Exactly the opposite. I’m trying to figure out how to say that 1) I had a spectacular experience and 2) I returned changed and don’t know how or why.

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Have I loved my time with pageantry? Yes. Have pageants shaped me into the person I am today? Yes. Do I love them, regardless of their absurdity, for what they’ve taught me? Yes. Will I be competing again in locals in pursuit of another week at Miss Michigan in 2016? I don’t know.

I’m still processing.

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