In July last year, I watched college application videos nonstop. The Common Application portal would open in only a few short days and I wanted to be ready for it when it finally did. At the time, I considered myself prepared. I developed an idea for my personal statement essay, attended an essay writing workshop, and watched too many college youtubers to name.
Regardless, I still got nervous whenever someone brought up the subject of college (and to cope with this, I just watched more videos). I was nervous because the colleges’ decisions were out of my control; there’s nothing you can do to guarantee your acceptance.
Pageantry and college applications are similar in this way. You reveal the most personal aspects of yourself to strangers (judges or admissions officers who just want to see you succeed) that are tasked with the impossible decision of choosing individuals to invest in. You can do all that you can, perfectly complete every step, and still not get the acceptance or the crown.
Even though this can sound scary, I’m thankful for this fact. It forces us to define our goals differently, to make them things we can control. By leaving our goals in the hands of others, we’re inviting ourselves to face constant disappointment.
As we approach college application deadlines and state pageant season, I challenge all of you to define goals that are in your control. Instead of wishing to become valedictorian, strive to get the best grades you can by understanding the course material. Rather than making the crown your goal, strive to do your personal best in all areas of competition; leave it all on the stage and in the interview room.