Value in Pageantry

I am often asked why I compete in pageants. Every "pageant girl" has a different reason for why they are going after the crown, and I thought I would share mine.

At the age of 15, I was extremely shy and it terrified me to have to talk to people I did not know. My family tried different ways to break me out of my shell, but nothing seemed to help long-term. So when I received a letter in the mail to compete in a pageant, my family was shocked when I actually wanted to do it. I remember my cousin saying "You know you will be in front of people, right?!" My goal for competing that year, and for the next couple of years after that, were purely for the purpose of being more comfortable in front of people. I knew that if I didn't learn how to present myself in front of others, I would struggle as an adult.

After competing for a couple of years, and learning how to be comfortable in my own skin, I wanted to win! And it was not because of the crown and sash... It was because of the opportunities that came with the crown and sash. I would see titleholders go out in their community and volunteer their time for so many wonderful organizations. I knew that I did not have to have a crown to be able to volunteer, as I have been volunteering since the age of 3, but I knew that the crown could open certain doors that would allow me to serve others in a different capacity.

With the titles I have been blessed to have, and from all my years in pageantry, I learned how to carry myself with confidence, how to comfortably engage with others, determine what I'm passionate about and how to convey my passion to others. I learned how to stay focused on my dreams and how to persevere when it seemed like my dreams would never happen. I learned how to lose gracefully, as there were times when the crown did not even come close to being on my head! But most importantly, I learned that although the crowns and sashes have helped me in so many areas in my life, the one the I will always wear and that will have the most weight is the crown that identifies me as a child of God. He is ultimately the one that gave me the courage to compete in my first pageant, which would shape the person I am today. He is the one that showed me how to use the crown to serve others, and for that I am eternally grateful!

Wishing each of you a blessed and wonderful week,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015


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