Ok, so I get these kinds of questions a lot. “Annika, what do you do to get ready for Miss Kansas? Is it hard? Do you workout 10 hours a day? What all do you do?”. I want to talk about it in this week’s blog because I feel like nobody really knows what goes into competing in a pageant at a state or national level (unless you’ve done it, and then you really know!). There are things you have to consider that most people wouldn’t - like buying the perfect dress and making sure it actually shows up to your destination, the mental prep, the community engagement, interview prep and so much more will lead up to the big competition, so let’s talk about it!
I’m going to break this down into three sections and give a really high-level overview because each one is so different and can get really in-depth. Branding/Wardrobe. Interview/Community Service. Mental Prep. I want you guys to focus on these and envision all of the beautiful chaos that surrounds each one. I seriously have so much fun with each category and put so much thought into each part. Let’s start with branding and wardrobe, one of my favorites!
When I’m choosing my wardrobe and what I’ll be using to compete, I am picking pieces that represent my own personal style and how I show up in day-to-day life. Now, I’m not saying I show up to my day job in a ball gown and glittery heels, but this is based on my own style. Let me explain. The best way this was ever described to me is this: if you show up to your interview looking like Jackie O., and you show up on stage looking like Marilyn Monroe, the judges don’t know who they’re crowning because it isn’t consistent.
(Throwback to my wardrobe lineup from when I competed at Miss America)
In other words, if you were to be chosen as the titleholder, what is the “brand story” that you are telling through your fashion choices? It doesn't have to be all the same color, but it does have to be cohesive. I’ll be showing up in a variety of different looks at Miss Kansas USA; evening gown, interview, swimsuit, etc. but each of these pieces will flow together and tell a visual story – they represent me. Speaking of which, I am so over-the-top excited to show off my gown this year! It’s unlike anything I have ever worn before so stay tuned!
Ok, interview prep. This is a category that differs depending on the pageant system, but one thing remains the same - a panel of judges is getting to know you in a private setting. This is tremendously tied to community service and the impact you will make (or are making) as a titleholder. These judges can ask you literally anything and I have no idea what the questions will be beforehand. They are given our resume and paperwork to come up with questions, but anything is fair game – talk about nerve-wracking! It’s so important to be prepared for this section of the competition. Here, I am making sure that I can direct the interview and that my answers are timed appropriately; I’ll also need to be up-to-date with what’s going on in the world on every level, and trust me, that’s a lot right now! I also need to be able to speak to the work I’m doing in my community, the brand I’m bringing, and why I’m the right person for the job. My goal is to show my personality, while also showcasing the work I’ve done as well as the impact and legacy I want to make for the title I’m applying for. We call this position a ’job’ because in many systems it truly is; so here, you present your best self just like you would in a job interview, just with a little more sparkle than normal.
There’s also an ‘on stage’ question section; sometimes it’s written by the judges, sometimes it’s written by the contestants, and sometimes it’s a random question from the organization but either way, you have to be articulate. You have to have the knowledge and an opinion about what’s going on in the world. Literally, I’ve heard every question from, “how can you solve this global crisis?” to “who’s your favorite Batman” (I’m not kidding). It’s just the luck of the draw. Thinking on your feet is the name of the game in this section and that’s why it’s so exhilarating.
Mental prep - or spiritual prep - is the last area I want to cover because it’s a big one for me. My biggest competition will forever be myself. I know, I know, I’m on stage with tons of other women, yes, but I want to be better for myself, and I constantly want to out-perform myself. The mental side for me has a lot to do with the work that I’m doing – even looking beyond the crown, my biggest and brightest legacy will always be just that, how I help and serve others in my community. That’s the motivation behind the pageant. That’s the goal. If all of this was only for the crown, and you don’t end up winning, you’ll be extremely disappointed in yourself. On the flip side though, if you’re doing this work for yourself and your community, you really can’t lose! You’re doing it all for a purpose. For something greater than yourself. Believe it or not, it takes a lot of mental preparation and work to believe in yourself this much and to know down to your very soul that you deserve it. It also takes a lot to know it’s okay if you don’t win; that it won’t break you. That you will continue on your mission. That life will still get sweeter.
Sometimes people will ask me what advice I’d give to younger girls competing and I always say this: make sure you have goals about the pageant that have nothing to do with winning. Here’s a good example. For me this year, a huge goal of mine is to be physically fit and to feel good walking the stage in a swimsuit. This is one of the sections that makes me the most nervous and I am determined to get up there and have so much fun and be confident in the work I’ve put in to get here. I want to enjoy those moments on stage and be present because I know this is the start of my last chapter in pageantry as a competitor.
My second goal this year is to make new friends, which may sound scary to some of you and super fun to others. For me, it’s about letting down my walls and getting out of my comfort zone. This is a system I haven’t competed in before and I’ll be meeting new women that I haven’t interacted with, and from what I’ve heard, they’re pretty incredible.
Lastly, I want to level up my personal development. A lot of this comes with self-reflection, discipline, and a healthy routine. Some of that work is being done right here with this blog (thank you for being here), some of it happens in the gym with discipline and healthy choices, and some happens in books, podcasts, and conversations with my people that push me to be better every day. I have been so floored from the health and fitness side of things about what I’ve learned about my body and how it functions – I feel so great in the way I’m taking care of myself now on a physical and mental level.
The mental agility that we go through from developing platforms, to community service issues, to learning how to be active and taking care of our bodies, to being educated and articulate, to not tripping on our gowns, are all things we go through to prepare for this life-changing competition. After all of the prep and the work that goes into it behind the scenes, I want to feel like I’m on top of the world when I hit that stage. I hope this gave you a little glimpse into the preparation process and gave you a whole new appreciation for the girl with the crown on her head. I will always have my community in mind when I’m up there – this is all for you!