"Be pretty if you can
be witty if you must,
but be gracious if it kills you."
-Elsie de Wolfe
I DO NOT like to lose. But, we can't win them all, right? From sport competitions, to card games, to business deals, or job interviews, we simply cannot be successful in every endeavor we encounter. While we certainly hope that our lives are filled with more successes than failures, an occasional loss is inevitable. However, how we respond to those losses is most important.
Although I've had some pageant successes, there have also been times when I did not walk away with the crown. Although every pageant loss comes with some level of disappointment, one's true character is determined in our ability to resist snatching a chick's weave (and everyone--and I mean EVERYONE--is wearing some weave).
Furthermore, in those moments following any major competition, watching the reactions of the 'losers' can be quite telling. If you behave appropriately, your reputation remains unscathed. On the other hand, your poor behavior--bursting into tears, rolling your eyes, spreading rumors, flipping a table, etc.--will also be remembered. Far too many times, I have seen a promising pageant contestant finish in the top five one year, spend the next year acting like a she-devil, and then wonder why she's excluded from the top ten in the following year. In the age of Instagram, snapchat, and SCREENSHOTS, no poor behavior goes unnoticed or unshared.
So instead of flipping a table when frustrated, use that discontentment to fuel your desire to prepare even more fervently than before. During the entire first year I competed at Miss Virginia (2012), I had no intention of ever returning to a pageant stage. The added pressure, the stress, and the additional responsibilities had become too much for me to bear. Despite this initial sentiment, I not only returned the next year, but have since competed in several more pageants. So, what changed?
I DO NOT like to lose.
So when I placed first runner-up during my first year competing, my competitive spirit wouldn't allow me to be second place, because as Ricky Bobby says. . .
So, I was determined to return the next year and take home the title of Miss Virginia. I studied photographs from competition week, re-evaluated my wardrobe choices, examined my on-stage performance, then established a meticulous plan to improve upon all the areas I identified. Whether I wanted to admit it or not, there was certainly a reason why I didn't win during my first go-around. I knew that when I returned, I wanted my victory to be undeniable.
Of course, I had moments when I didn't want to catch up on current events, queso at the Mexican restaurant is always more appealing than a salad, spending weekends completing mock interviews wasn't quite as much fun as hanging with my friends, and sleeping an extra hour was often more seductive than my early morning trips to the gym. But I knew that if I slept, there was a competitor out there who was working toward getting the job for which I knew I was destined.
In those moments of weakness, I was able to reflect upon the feeling of coming within reach of my goal (winning the title), only to see it slip through my fingers. When I wanted to pick up some donuts, I remembered being escorted to the side after they announced the winner's name (typically during pageants, they don't even announce the name of the first runner up). Instead of sulking about my disappointment, I used my loss as motivation to prepare a little more thoroughly than the previous year. When I returned to the Miss Virginia stage the following year, I had the opportunity to realize my destiny.
So the next time you don't get the internship to which you applied, lose a sports game, or fall short of winning a pageant title, don't feel discouraged. Instead, respond with dignity and return better than ever!