Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Just Be Yourself

“Just Be Yourself.”  These were the words of advice that I heard as I prepared for Nationals.  This message confused me, partly because I was caught between the place where I was still trying to define who I was and also trying to fit into a mold of who people wanted me to be.

Looking back I see that I didn’t understand the advice I was given initially.  Knowing the judges would only have 5 minutes to discover who I was, my first thought was to try and figure out who a perfect queen would be.  As I have mentioned in other blogs, I thought there was a “perfect mold”.  While practicing interview questions I realized very quickly that judges are real people and they would quickly see through an empty shallow shell.  That was when I had to do some real soul searching.

To discover who I really was, I needed to think beyond the next hour and the next week.  I needed to stop living in only the day-to-day activities of life.   I had to think about how I wanted to be perceived.  Were my daily actions and decisions leading me to the kind of life I wanted or was I living minute to minute without much thought?  Through honest feedback and some self-reflection, I slowly became aware of how my history had shaped me and how I could shape my future.  My goals changed from vague dreams of the future, to more specific decisions with clear actions.

After I had a better idea of who I was and what I wanted, I knew that being myself was exactly the right advice.  Of course, I did need to present the most polished version of myself.  With the help of a video camera and watching myself speak, I quickly learned to drop the “ums..likes…and ahhs.”  I realized that I didn’t always complete my thoughts and just let a sentence trail off into a “you know what I mean?”  I worked on developing mental bullet points of information.  Rather than focusing on specific speeches, I worked on putting my passion into my responses.  Communicating my thoughts with clarity required took some work, but definitely paid off.

When you are sitting across from the judges you should be able to articulate who you really are and what’s truly important to you in a few sentences.  Don’t worry about where your hands are or if you shoes are just the right shade of nude to match your tan.  Focus on connecting to the person across from you, not by reciting some pre-determined message, but by sharing your truth.  Relax and let the warmth of your personality come out.

My hope is that sharing my personal journey of growth will help you to enjoy yours!

XOXO

Krista Wanous
Miss International 2012

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