Holding the title of Miss Greater Easley last year was great, but explaining to countless people that I will not be returning to compete in the MAO has been a headache. I hold nothing against the girls who are gearing up for competition this summer. In fact, I think back fondly to the spray tans, fake nails, and fake lashes, and I remember being happy underneath all the makeup. The thing is, I am so incredibly much more than a title, and I have so incredibly much more to offer to the world than being a queen.
While competing for Miss South Carolina, I ceased to be Tracy. The entire week of the state pageant, I was called by my title and never by my name. There are many girls, and using titles is simply easier. I get that. What I did not understand is the number of people who knew I was Miss Greater Easley and desired no other information. The number of people who felt they knew me simply because they knew my title. The title did not define me.
Long before I held a title, I was a volunteer at GHS Children’s Hospital. I loved volunteering with my local CMN hospital. I did not love it because it was MAO’s platform; I love it because those kids show what can be accomplished with a little strength of character. I love it because that hospital is an opportunity for more kids to have birthdays. I love it because every child deserves a childhood. It wasn’t about the pictures I could take at events; it was about the relationships I could build.
Long before I held a title, I was a personal trainer advocating for my platform, A Perfect Fit; I just wasn’t calling it that. Mental, physical, and spiritual wellness has always been a passion for me. It was never something I did to promote myself. My intention was always to help others. Being a contestant ruined that for me. It started to become about how many appearances I’d made instead of about what good I’d done.
Now, I hold the title of Miss Clemson University, and I am not taking it to compete for a higher title. I am completely satisfied with having this title to potentially make a difference in the place that has given me so much.
To the girls competing this summer, I wish you nothing but the best. Please remember who you are, though. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need a nose job to be beautiful enough to win. Don’t let them encourage unhealthy weight loss when your body is your own. Don’t let them tell you that you should sell more advertisements to be considered for the title. Make a difference by spending time in your community, not just by fundraising for it. (A little birdie told me that $0.40 of every dollar raised for CMN through MAO goes right back into the pageant system. It could be a rumor, but for a rumor to start, I find there’s usually a little truth.). Do not lose yourself to their system; let this be part of the journey that helps you find yourself, not the part of your journey that defines you.
As for me, I’m content to serve in a different way. Not winning the title of Miss South Carolina will always be one of the biggest blessings in my life, but I’m grateful for the experience. I became more confident in the woman I am having faced a million voices trying to change me. I’m forever thanking God for taking my life in a new direction and instilling new dreams to chase in my heart.
Be bold, be confident, and be at peace because you are beautiful and you are loved.