From Jane’s Desk

I don’t really like to talk about it, mostly because people have preconceived notions, but I am a former pageant contestant and titleholder. In fact, for 10 years from the ages of 15 to 25, I competed in dozens of pageants earning well over $35,000 in cash and scholarships, not to mention lots of really great prizes. However, the most valuable prizes I earned were confidence, poise and communication skills.

When I tell people that know me that I was quiet and shy before pageants, they find it hard to believe. Frankly, so do I. I honestly don’t know exactly what it was that caused the light to go on, but it happened quickly. Despite losing my first teen pageant in Los Angeles to a short red head in the biggest pink hoop skirt imaginable, I was hooked. And over the years, I had hundreds of opportunities to speak on stages and perform before crowds, to the point where I no longer got nervous – not even a little bit. I really owe a lot of who I am today to pageants.

Apparently, I’m not the only one that recognizes the value that can be gained through all the glitz and glamour. In an online article, a woman writes about attending a pageant and realizing what it takes to do well in that type of competition, and likens it to skills necessary to land a job.
She concludes: You don’t have to be a pageant queen to use the techniques of pageant contestants to excel in your career. So stand tall, be knowledgeable, know your strengths and show them off, dress for the position, and smile! Then watch out – you just might earn that coveted promotion, even if it doesn’t come with a crown!

Many hand-sewn sequins later at the end of my 10-year pageant career, I won the coveted title of Miss California USA and placed in the top 10 at Miss USA. I missed the top three by three hundredths of a point, and I know it’s because celebrity judge Charlie Pride simply didn’t like me, as evidenced by his nodding off during my interview. In addition to confidence and communication skills, pageants taught me to lose with grace (at least while people are watching), to continuously improve my skills, to not let one person’s opinion of me shape who I am, and that everything happens for a reason – lessons I still live by today.

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