Survive and thrive

The day is finally here. There is certainly a whirlwind of emotion, but excitement and anticipation trump. I have found myself in this position not once, twice or even three times, but FOUR! My fourth year competing for Miss New Jersey. Each year I find myself learning more and more about myself and the world around me– a beauty far beyond measurable means. This unique experience is one that has been had by a diverse, intelligent, beautiful, over-achieving group of women who stop at nothing to ensure their goals and dreams are within arms-reach. I can only hope that those around me feel as empowered as I do when I’m around them. To think that I’m surrounded by future doctors, lawyers, performers, teachers and reporters is such a remarkable thing. At the end of the day, that’s the point of it all. You push yourself to astounding limits, working tirelessly in the gym, standing through tough mock interviews, walking fiercely in a swimsuit and embracing poise and elegance– all while maintaining admirable composure and speaking eloquently and proficiently. I am here, in this position, for the fourth time. But this time, it’s different. For reasons I can’t put my thumb on quite yet, but will certainly be able to report back to you Sunday evening while I’m eating pizza and wishing I was back at The Forum with my sisters (I’m not even there yet and I miss it– how is that possible?)

Empowerment. That’s what I wanted to get at. You may have your own opinions about pageantry and some may even consider it outdated, but I think it’s very much relevant. Where else do you see the best of the best competing for the chance of a lifetime, all the while having already accomplished more than imaginable at such a young age. I have touched on this over and over again– as a role model, as a titleholder, as a graduate, a sister, a daughter, a niece– I work to make my life and the people around me better. That’s the point of it all, too. The size of my dress, the weight on the scale is essentially irrelevant in retrospect to what it means to be a ‘Phenomenal Woman.’

Here’s to what will be yet another eventful, emotional rollercoaster of a week. Thank you to every single person who has made this possible; who stuck by me when I was at my lowest points and my highest points; to my mother who has been my guiding light in this sometimes cold and dark world; my brother who pushed me to do ‘just one more pullup’ before going to sleep; to Ari who put up with my bantering about my hips, my wardrobe and everything before, after and in between; my family who will probably be the loudest in the crowd (it comes with the territory, I apologize); to a wonderful director who pushed me and kindly always ended her emails with ‘hope you’re working hard in the gym;’ to George who probably wants to beat me for the amount of alterations I made him do all of 3 days before leaving for good ol’ OC; to Kate for dealing with my random, tearful phone calls because she is the no-judgement zone (and being a great friend and travel buddy); to Joe for his out-of-left-field question of the days and endlessssss support; to my AMAZING trainer for his patience and kindness during endless workouts; and to YOU. If you are reading this, you mean something, because nine times out of ten I’m bantering about life and you’re still here reading my blog. I commend you for sticking by me & I appreciate you. All of you. (And if you want to continue to follow the crazy and busy life I live, please follow me on Instagram: @annan3gron and Twitter: @Anna_Negron. Selfies included.)

My emotions are mixed: juggling the excitement, anxiousness, nervousness, happiness and stress can be exhausting, but all of that comes with a bright and shining smile as I embark on the best five days. I’m here, in the moment. I’m present, with a level head, a happy heart and an awakened soul. And I’m proud to say, with true conviction, that I’m Ready.

Maya Angelou put it best.

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

Here we go. Catch ya on the flipside, Jersey.

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