When I truly first entered the Miss America Organization, I was 17 years old and spent months cultivating and designing my platform so that it encompassed my life story and a cause I am extremely passionate about into one massive campaign:
Be Your Own Beautiful
This is my story.
We all have those days. They may happen when we wake up too late, get stuck in traffic, miss an important deadline, or deal with nothing going right. Those days tend to consume our lives. It takes a lot of time and self-reflection to realize that we are ultimately in control of how they view each and every day, and, depending upon the day, it sometimes takes multiple reminders and realizations to fully understand that concept.
Only recently did I finally accept that I am in control of my life.
After a long journey of trying to process exactly what I was struggling with, I realized I was not happy with where I was in my life. I was not enjoying school, I felt out of touch with the people around me, and I constantly counted down the days until I could move away — to start a new chapter of my life with new opportunities and innumerable possibilities. To this day, I still struggle with anxiety and depression, often clawing to find the motivation and interest to continue activities I previously immersed myself in.
I still have days where the prospect of getting out of bed in the morning seems too arduous and painful, but I do it because I feel the need to help others because I understand what they are struggling through.
I also grapple with self-esteem related challenges because, prior to college, I was often tormented for my spinal health (or lack thereof). Scoliosis, a fractured vertebrae, and a birth defect affected my body’s shape, causing my clothes to fit improperly, and further instigating the harassment of my peers. In October 2015, I underwent spinal fusion back surgery through Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia. I finally felt like I had the freedom to live a happy, healthy, and practically normal life once more, along with an opportunity to close the door on a hurtful part of my past.
For years before my surgery, I dreamed of improving my body. To be more proportional, straighter. But eventually, I realized that my spinal problems were never the issue. I spent too long denigrating myself for arbitrary flaws that I now realize helped to define who I am. Beauty is never dependent upon the approval of others because it is self-defined. The power to be beautiful, amazing, authentic, talented, or [insert any other adjective here] does not lie in the eyes of others— it grows from deep within oneself.
The point of my story, my platform, is to spread the message across the nation that you do not have to be perfect, have all the answers (or even half of the answers), and you certainly do not have to have your life on track all the time. Why? Because life is a journey, and the bumps in the road build you up and teach you lessons you may not learn otherwise.
It took me a while to internalize that concept. Before, when I looked in the mirror, I saw a hypocrite. I thought, “Why am I trying to help other people overcome something I still struggle with myself?” But I came to a strong conclusion, and I will stick by it:
I have a passion for helping other people, and no matter where you are in your personal mental health journey, the impact you make on others can leave a lasting mark on you as well. When the day-to-day starts getting rough, you just have to remind yourself that you are in control. When life gets tough, it is time to make a big change (or some smaller ones) in order to be as happy as possible. That is the main goal of this platform— to inspire positivity and joy in your daily life. It is completely understandable why change may not have made it onto your to-do list yet, but if you are reading about or following my campaign, you are on the right path.
If you are sitting in a deep rut, struggling with mental illness, or simply not knowing where to start, keep following pushing. If you think you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, keep trying. And finally, if you are convinced that you cannot get better — that life will not get better — keep following along with "Be Your Own Beautiful". Sometimes it is hard to feel confident and happy in your own skin, but to be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.
It's in that same moment that it becomes easier to Be Your Own Beautiful.
P.S. To view my 2019 Miss America Organization resume & platform essay,
click the links here:
NOTABLE PLATFORM WORK & MILESTONES:
I take transplant, Orthopedic, Cancer, and Psychiatric patients staying at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to their 'Patient Prom'!
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