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How It Started vs. How It's Going...

Baby Annika's first real pageant, complete with Ebay dress and french twist

When I first started competing in pageants, I had no idea what my “why” was. It’s funny because I think everyone expects there to be this big, grandiose reason for why I decided to start competing and they’re always a little shocked when I say, “I don’t know”. Looking back on my pageant infancy, I probably would have told you I started because of the crowns, or dresses, or being around friends. Now that I’m seasoned in this community, there are aspects of the competition that hooked me so much more than the simplicity of the sparkle.

I know in previous blogs I’ve mentioned that I’m super competitive (but not athletic); so, pageantry was the perfect environment for me to use that competitiveness but in a situation that was bettering me as a person as well. It also gave me phenomenal people to look up to which is honestly one of the absolute best parts (I still can’t believe I get to be friends with some of these women). When I was starting to compete around fifteen or sixteen, I was in awe of them; I was looking up to them and soon got mentored by them as well. They truly made such a difference in my life in how they were able to make their communities so much better and full transparency, I wanted to be like them.

Now you’d probably think I was looking up to the big dogs, right? The Teresa Scanlan’s, the Alyssa Campanella’s; but I wasn’t. I was so much more focused on the Veronica Rohrmoser’s (Miss Piedmont Region) and the Shannon Beam's (Miss Apple Blossom). Why? They were local titleholders that were alongside me, the people who I admired so much and who were making massive waves in their own communities. They carried themselves well; I wanted to be like them. Neither of these two women ever won a state title, but even today I follow them and absolutely love watching the lives they lead; I love having that kind of connection through pageantry.

I always compare my competitions from their infancy to now as an actual dream because when I first started, I could see it, I could envision it. I could see that crowning moment; I could see the crowd cheering me on and all of those high moments really centered around myself. It was truly one of those dreams where you wake up and just remember bits and pieces. But now, now those dreams are larger, and I can see the life I’m living and the legacy I’m leaving. I can see those fruitful moments of service during the term that I’m so blessed to hold, hopefully as Miss Kansas USA. Now it’s the dream where you wake up thinking you’ve been asleep for a couple of hours but it felt like you were in that dream for months; I remember every single detail!

That’s part of the growth though, right? Understanding that we compete vigorously, and we prepare for these couple of days spent on stage in front of a panel that doesn’t know us in the least. We do our absolute best to showcase who we are outside of the pageant and prove that we will be a great titleholder, that they’d be crazy not to choose us. That we will represent our communities and state in the most positive light. That we deserve that recognition and that opportunity.

We all have individual goals in this space, but truly it’s the vigor of competition paired with the knowledge of knowing that I’ll make a difference if I’m given the opportunity. I will be an impactful titleholder. When I think back on every single time I’ve decided to put my hat back in the ring in the last nine years, and now again for Miss Kansas USA; it brings my heart so much peace and a crazy amount of joy. It’s kind of like a form of FOMO (fear of missing out) because this is my last opportunity to chase this kind of goal; there’s an actual age cut off and sister, I’m approaching it.

There’s this quote I love from Deshauna Barber, Miss USA 2016, that says, “Do not fear failure, but please be terrified of regret,” and that’s me. I am terrified of not taking an opportunity that could not only change my own life, but so many others as well. If the opportunity is there, I enjoy and love it, and I have the skills to fulfill the job, why wouldn’t I? Why not do this one more time?

Watch Miss Kansas USA live on . Preliminary competition will be Saturday, May 7th at 7PM CST, Finals will be Sunday, May 8th at 7PM CST. And follow me on Instagram to stay up to date on behind the scenes throughout the weekend!


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