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Navigating State Pageant Season: A Survival Guide

Hey there, queen! 💕

It's that time of the year again: state pageant season. Whether it's your first time stepping on stage or your seventh (like my last one...!), it can feel like a whirlwind of emotions and preparations. Trust me, I've been there. From my first pageant to my journey to becoming Miss Kansas, I've learned a thing or two about surviving this intense (and rewarding) season. So, buckle up, grab a cup of your favorite tea (mine's lemon and honey), and let's dive in!

1. Preparation is Key

Every pageant journey starts with preparation. I know the feeling of uncertainty that comes with preparing for the big day. The dress, the talent, the interview... where do you even start? I know you are WELL into the preparation part of the journey, but I felt like it was worth mentioning as step number one in this list for good measure. My last year competing for Miss Kansas, my gown literally got finished the day before I left for the competition, I walked in it ONCE before I hit the stage, but hey - it all worked out in the end! Start by understanding the pageant rules, criteria, and expectations - especially any particular rules for backstage or during pageant week. Make sure you prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally, because girl, you are in for a ride!

2. Maintaining Physical Health

This might seem obvious, but it's SO easy to put physical health on the back burner when you're caught up in the whirlwind of rehearsals, dress fittings, and final prep. I know personally, my body is keen to shut down and get sick the moment I fully go into rest mode after I've been go-go-going for a while. I found it was best for me to trickle out my final preparations interwoven with personal care and my fitness regimen so I had something little to check off my list almost till the last day. There's a balance between procrastination and strategy 😉 Remember, your body is your temple, and it needs to be nurtured. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep will give you the energy to shine on that stage.

3. Nurturing Mental and Emotional Well-being

Your mental and emotional well-being is just as important as your physical health. We all know pageant season can be stressful, and it's okay to feel overwhelmed. But, you are not alone. My own journey was filled with moments of self-doubt and anxiety - read my full blog on imposter syndrome to get that whole story. My advice? Practice self-care. And I truly mean practice. Self-care isn't always a full massage and bubble bath, it's being able to practice recognizing your personal symptoms of when you're fading and little things to fill your cup back up. This is a HUGE skill to have in your toolkit as a state titleholder that doesn't often have dedicated time for herself. Carve out time for relaxation before you jump all in, practice mindfulness, and remember to visualize your success!

4. Building a Support Network

You know what they say, it takes a village, and trust me, it's true. Surrounding yourself with a supportive network of family, friends, mentors, and even fellow competitors can make all the difference. These are the people who will lift you up when you're feeling low, remind you of your worth, and celebrate your journey with you. I've talked about how important your circle is - and how important your inner circle will be as Miss State - but also about communicating with them before you get to competition week. Make sure to verbalize to your people how to best support you, if you plan to respond to texts and calls or if you plan to be a little more to yourself. Prep your hype squad with how you want to be supported after the competition - win or otherwise.

some of my closest friends during this season circa 2014ish

5. Dress Rehearsals and Pageant Etiquette

Dress rehearsals are more than just about the dress. They're about building confidence, understanding the dynamics of the stage, and getting comfortable under those bright lights. And let's not forget pageant etiquette. From how to carry yourself on stage to interacting with judges and fellow competitors, mastering these aspects can set you apart. In the theater, they say, "Bad rehearsal, good show," so even if everything is not perfect in rehearsal, don't sweat it. One year, my easel literally fell in my face during rehearsal and I composed myself, picked it up, and performed that night as if nothing ever happened. Even though the judges are not present during rehearsals, how you treat the volunteers, stagehands, and tech folks speaks volumes to how you will be as the state titleholder.

6. Handling the Outcome

Win or otherwise, remember that you are still a queen! The crown doesn't define you; your journey does. Whether you're crowned Miss State or not, know that you are amazing just the way you are. Celebrate your journey and the growth that comes with it. Sometimes it's hard to see why things happen when they don't go our way, but I am a firm believer that if the door does not open for you this year, there's a reason. Either you are being held for another year to serve your state, or the universe has something else up its sleeve waiting just for you. Hold your head up, and lean on that support system no matter what happens.

7. After the Pageant

Once the glitz and glamour of the pageant are over, take a moment to rest and reflect. You've completed an incredible journey. Use this time to nurture yourself, reflect on your experiences, and plan your next steps. At Crown the Nation, we have a debrief session with our clients after the competition when they're ready to decompress and talk about what the next steps will be. If the next step is a chill pill and enjoying your summer - that's the move! If you're ready to grind and get back to work, we're here for that too!

And remember, you are not alone in this journey. I, along with so many other sisters in the pageant world, are here cheering you on every step of the way. Whether you decide to compete again or choose a different path, know that you have my full support and hype squad status to cheer you toward your next thing.

I can't wait to see you shine on that stage, and when the lights fade, can't wait to see you shine afterwards, too ✨

Sending you all my love and positive vibes,

Annika 🤍


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