Following Your Dreams: Miss Nebraska 2017

After a week spent primarily in four inch or higher heels, applying and reapplying lipstick, keeping a stash of autograph cards and a sharpie nearby, and searching for that last bobby pin to secure my crown, I am home.

A little over a week ago I loaded my mom’s SUV and headed to North Platte for Miss Nebraska 2017 week. Nerves rang through my body like a bell humming a tune; I was so excited to get started with the week, yet questioned whether or not I was prepared the experience:

Did I have my talent memorized? 

Was my swimsuit a good color choice?

What about my evening gown.. would it ‘wow’ the judges? 

Yet, upon my arrival I quickly realized there wouldn’t be much time to dwell on the “what if’s”, as our schedule was jam packed with events and appearances right away.

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Miss Nebraska 2017 Opening Ceremonies at the Platte River Mall. 

Myself and 15 other women were vying for the title of Miss Nebraska 2017. Following crowning, she would then go on to compete in the 2018 Miss America pageant in September (Preliminary Competition: September 6, 7, and 8, 2017, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET
Final Night: September 10, 2017 at 9:00 pm ET, broadcast live on ABC) and if she were to return to Nebraska, she would then represent our state for an entire year (and alternatively represent the country as Miss America if she were to win!). In either instance she will continue to promote her individual platform, serve as a Children’s Miracle Hospitals goodwill ambassador, and be a servant-leader for the state of Nebraska and/or our country.

16 young women from around the state of Nebraska were essentially interviewing for the job and opportunity of a lifetime. While we could all close our eyes and imagine the Miss Nebraska crown on our head, we all also knew that it could only be one of us. So naturally you’d assume that there would be a competitive or cold atmosphere the entire week, right?

Wrong! 

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Pretty quickly we discovered common interests, learned odd factoids about one another (Dr. Pimple Popper was probably my favorite – ick!), were making inside jokes, applying the infamous pageant “butt glue”, and obnoxiously singing Beyonce throwbacks in the dressing room. Being that many of us live several hours from one another, we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to bond prior to Miss Nebraska 2017 week (even though we did have a quick orientation weekend a few months prior).

Nonetheless, I can confidently say that there was no point during the week that I felt like I didn’t have a friend in these women, each and everyone of them echoed the sentiments shared by Miss America Organization CEO, Sam Haskell, of the importance of being kind.

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Kind is truly what each and everyone of these women were; among a plethora of other adjectives that make my heart flutter with joy. Despite our differences, and the commonality of wanting to be Miss Nebraska 2017, the week felt like hanging out with a group of friends. Besides, when you match 15 other women for five days straight you kinda-sorta get close!

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Going into this experience, I was pretty much focused on winning. I knew that I had what it takes to be Miss Nebraska 2017 and I refused to let anyone or anything get in the way of that. I hired a fitness trainer, worked with a speech coach to fine tune both my talent and audience engagement, was making local appearances 2-3 times per week, and was active on various social media channels to bring further awareness to my platform, Representation Matters: The Power in Being Present. My mindset going to North Platte was: win, win, win.

Then something changed.

I didn’t necessarily lose my competitive spirit or the hunger to be Miss Nebraska, but I saw something that was seemingly more valuable than focusing entirely on winning. I saw the opportunity for growth and friendship. I was able to reflect on the woman I was prior to being crowned Miss Western Nebraska 2017 on February 8th, and I think about how much I have grown in just five months. I walk a little taller, speak with more intent, and feel a whole lot more confident. I’ve said it a million times that I started this journey on a whim, but seeing everything now in retrospect, I know that this was something I was supposed to do. 

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Being a twenty-something year old trying to navigate life, happiness, life after college , my career, and relationships; I crave positive experiences that get me closer to the direction of where I am supposed to be (or at least where I think I am supposed to be). During the interview portion of the Miss Nebraska competition, I was asked, “What is your proudest accomplishment thus far?” It took me some time to answer, but I replied, “Learning to love myself and not being afraid to chase after my dreams.”

For so long, I did what I thought I was supposed to do, and felt terribly guilty when I didn’t meet the expectations I thought others had set for me. At the root of my being, I am a “people pleaser”; I want everyone to like me and make them happy, yet in doing so, for many years I neglected my own happiness. Thus, me being in control of my happiness and what I want to do was really a turning point in my life.

Whether it is a pageant, job interview, that move across the country or otherwise. Do it, and follow your dreams. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake or fail, as even in those experiences are room from growth and personal development. Always remember that you are worthy of everything good that comes your way and that you are enough.

So, I am not your Miss Nebraska 2017 and am unsure if I will ever be. I’ve competed in three pageants now and following every one I said it would be my last (Sorry mom!), so there’s no telling what I will or won’t do next as it pertains to pageantry. But I do know, that I wouldn’t be able to compete without my amazing and supportive village behind me, from family, friends, coworkers, and more I wouldn’t be able to perform to the best of my ability without you. So…

To my family: Thank you for always believing in me and making the necessary sacrifices to allow me to chase my dreams. Even when I decide last minute or change plans, you always found a way to make it work. Thanks for supporting my dreams financially and making 4+ hour drives, just to turn right around and go back to work. Thanks for providing me opportunities in both my childhood and now to be the best version of myself. Thanks for reminding me how talented, beautiful, and enough I am. Thanks for giving me advice, but also telling me what I can improve. I know that my best interest is always at heart when it cones to my family. Thanks for being forever selfless and loving.

To my friends: Both near and far, I am so lucky to have such supportive friends who encourage me to be the best version of myself. Thanks for flying out and supporting me, sharing my daily Facebook posts, and sending words of encouragement when I am feeling down. Thanks for being the backbone I needed and the shoulder to lean on when things get tough. Thanks for caring and always showing up. 

To the Miss Nebraska Organization (board, volunteers, and Executive): Thanks for proving a safe space for women like myself to grow and make mistakes. Thank you for being inclusive, flexible and receptive to change. Thank you for the long hours you put in to make all of this possible for myself, my sister queens and all that came before us. Thanks for being away from your own family and friends to provide us with an unforgettable experience. Thanks for being you and investing in us.

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To Jensyn: Thanks for being the best little sister I could ask for, I looked forward to your smile, stories, and awesome dances moves everyday during pageant week. I can’t wait to see you blossom into a beautiful young woman and serve as our Miss Nebraska some day! Near of far, I will always be a friend and sister to you. Never forget that you are enough!

To my host family, the Peterson’s: Thanks for allowing me into your beautiful home and for the sacrifices you made to make my week as smooth and easy as possible. Thanks for accommodating to my diet and stocking up on my favorite healthy snacks. Thanks for being a listening ear after each night of competition, and the first to offer if I needed assistance with something. Thanks for showing me around North Platte, and allowing me to be a tourist in my own state. Thanks for your kindness, support and encouragement. Oh, and I hope the baby comes soon Kelsey! 

To my partner: Thanks for being ready to be “Mr. Nebraska”. Thanks for filling in the gaps when I was unable to be at home; whether I had to go to the gym or stay out late due to an appearance. Thanks for being there as support when I was stressed and doubted and always rooting me on no matter what. Thanks for sneaking me sweet treats to keep me sane during training and reminding me that one honey bun won’t hurt. Thanks for being patient and flexible. Thanks for loving me, for me. I love you.

To Miss Nebraska 2017: Allison, you are amazing! Best of luck as you prepare for Miss America and a year of service. Never forget that you have 15 sisters forever cheering for your success. I am confident that you will represent our state with grace, style, and confidence. All the best!

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Credit: Kamie Jo Stephen

To the Miss Nebraska 2017 Class: Thanks for being kind! I am so honored to have met some of the most amazing women in my state and be able to walk away calling them friends. Thank you for being transparent and open; so many of you are conquerors and survivors in your own right, thank you for sharing your story and platform with our state. Thank you for making my first experience in MAO one to remember! Thank you all for being apologetically you! I am proud and love each and everyone of you so much, always remember that you are enough.

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Want to read more about Miss Nebraska 2017? Follow the links below. 

Allison Tietjen crowned Miss Nebraska 2017

Allison Tietjen named Miss Nebraska 2017

Woman from Chester is crowned Miss Nebraska

Miss Heartland Crowned Miss Nebraska

Chester woman crowned Miss Nebraska

Tietjen is crowned 2017 Miss Nebraska

Miss Nebraska Contestants spend time with Kids KLUB

Miss Nebraska 80th Anniversary Gala

Aleah Peters reflects on her year as Miss Nebraska

Just Like Fire

Evening gowns, song and dance at center stage

Scholarships, awards given in second night of Miss Nebraska Pageant

Miss Nebraska Pageant Underway In North Platte

Miss Nebraska pageant week kicks off

Women honored in first night of Miss Nebraska Pageant

Second Preliminary Night of Miss Nebraska 2017 Pageant in North Platte

Miss Neb. contestants get down to business

Miss Nebraska preparation

Sixteen will compete for crown

Miss Nebraska Class of 2017

Miss Nebraska Pageant contestants practice

As always,

Devin J.

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