Pageant girls can often be defined as “perfect,” and I’ll admit, I tried my hardest to be.
However, the constant need for perfectionism led to my inner peace being wrecked by guilt for never being able to attain it.
Hello, my name is Victoria Vredevoogd, and I’ve been competing in pageants for a decade. I owe a lot to pageantry. It’s brought me my best friends, public speaking skills, interview skills, internships, scholarships, and perseverance. So please know that I don’t write this to bash pageantry but to share my experience with mental health as a pageant competitor.
It wasn’t because I competed in pageants that I desired to be perfect. It was my desire to be perfect that made me want to compete in pageants.
That is no longer why I compete anymore, but for many years it was.
When I first started competing, the dream of winning the title was all-consuming. The pain of losing stung like a sharp wound to the soul because it damaged my identity, or perhaps, it hurt the image I was trying to create for myself. It corrupted my self-esteem. I felt like a disappointment to my friends and family because I assumed they would be upset if I lost.
It wasn’t until I got asked the reason “Why,” my true why, for why I competed, that everything changed. When I reflected on that question, I realized I wasn’t even competing for myself but for the validation of others. And as contradictory as this may sound, my only “why” was to win. Before this moment, I had been competing for all the wrong reasons. I was competing for an image, for validation, for my identity, which in turn caused me to be anxious, guilty, and self-conscious.
Once I changed my “Why,” it changed everything for me. I started to compete for the journey, not the title. I competed to have fun and to make friends. I competed because I love volunteering and going to events. I compete because it’s my dream to win and to be a leader, mentor, and national representative. And even if that dream never becomes a reality for me, that is okay too because at the end of the day, a title will never determine my worth, for that comes from God alone.
Today I compete from a place of validation, not for it.
So, I encourage you today to reflect on your “why.” Whether it’s for competing in pageants, what degree you’re choosing to major in, a career, etc. Acknowledge if your decisions are your own and if they bring you peace.
Is my anxiety completely healed because of this? No. I struggle with generalized anxiety. I can feel anxious sometimes for no reason at all, and that is okay. It’s in times like these that I remind myself that I am not perfect, I don’t need to be perfect, and having anxiety doesn’t make me any less worthy of love.
I share my story with you today in the hopes that it brings you comfort in knowing you are not alone in how you feel. Nobody is perfect, not even Miss Universe. So, my dear sister, you are not expected to be.
A huge thank you to Victoria for writing this blog post! It is always a pleasure to get more perspectives on the blog, and I knew Victoria would deliver. Victoria is a published author and long-time pageant friend that I cannot wait to catch up with very soon!
I greatly appreciate her sharing a bit about her expirence competing in pageants, and I completely agree that finding your “why” is so important both in pageantry and in life. By identifying your reasoning for doing anything you are able to better your mindset and improve your overall mental health. Also, once people truly find their “why” there is no limit to what they can achieve.