Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Saying Goodbye

As many of you know, I've been competing in pageantry for the last 9 years of my life. My first pageant ever was in the International system, so it only seems fitting that my last pageant be one too! While pageantry has been an extremely important part of my life and I'll be sad to no longer be competing, I have accomplished exactly what I have set out to.

I proved that anyone can be Miss International with hard work and dedication. Many people look at me and see a beauty queen, but they don't see the years of work I've dedicated to working on myself and my community service and being comfortable I my own skin. I am a completely different girl than the one who embarked on this journey what feels like a lifetime ago. I had so many people tell me I was wasting my time, I wasn't skinny enough, I wasn't pretty enough, I didn't have the right walk, I didn't speak onstage the right way, I was too shy, too outgoing, blah blah blah. I could have given you any excuse in the book to quit competing and no one would have questioned me. I LOST every single pageant I competed in for 6 consecutive years.

I was told by many girls "I knew you were going to win" last year, which was so funny to me, because I have never been a "front runner" in a pageant in my life. I had so much competition last year, I was just praying to make top 5! Of course I wanted to win, but I knew I was competing against some of the most amazing and beautiful girls in the world.

While my journey wasn't an easy one, I had to face my demons and deal with some very heavy emotional issues regarding the loss of my father before I even stepped foot onto the stage last year. I knew I needed to work through my own struggles before I would be able to help anyone else with theirs. I needed to be able to leave it all on that stage for the judges to see.

I honestly want to cry thinking about the fact that my journey is over. I believe so much in this system and really wish I could keep my title! Whenever I run into people who are unfamiliar with pageantry, they always ask me if I can "defend" my title and compete again. Haha I WISH! While I may not be able to be the "reigning" Miss International forever, I will always be Miss International 2014. A year of my life that I will never forget.

I often hear girls talk about growth and how much they learned during their year, and boy can I say how true that is! I learned so much about myself this year, it was truly the most fascinating year of my life. I will absolutely be back one day as a Mrs. contestant! Watch out married ladies!!!!

As I sit to write my farewell letter and program book speech, I am humbled by all of the support I have received this year from friends, family, coaches, and sponsors. You have all helped me become so much more than just "a pretty face." I hope you all take the time to read my farewell letter in the program book, I have put my heart and soul into it.

Ignite your spark,

Samantha Riddle
Miss International 2014

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