Not long after I came home from the Miss America competition I moved on to the next entertainment job that crossed my path. That led to me entering into a five-year personal relationship that wasn’t about me.
I lost myself in someone else’s world where I wasn’t encouraged to continue to pursue my singing career. I was surrounded by people who weren’t my biggest fans. It was as if they didn’t really see me. I began to feel that I must not be good enough and my self-esteem began to spiral. I was even convinced that I had changed my mind about what I wanted to do with my life. Deep down I knew better.
I kept thinking about my life of music performance work leading up to that point. I found myself talking about my journey in the Miss America program. We were on our way to an event and my now ex-husband was driving. I was talking about how I cracked the code of the pageant and what it took to make that happen. “No one wants to hear about that,” he said. “You have to stop talking about that.” I said nothing after that. I felt frustrated and ashamed.
But it occurred to me that I wasn’t bragging or boasting or living in the past. Because it wasn’t the pageant I was talking about. It was the girl who cracked the code. It was the girl who had fire and focus. It was the girl who overcame obstacles and learned to improve herself. It was the girl who knew who she was and what she wanted to do since birth. It was the girl who believed in her dreams and everyone else’s too. She was courageous and confident. People loved and believed in her. She was unstoppable. But at that moment in time, she was nowhere to be found.
I wanted her back. I wanted to be the girl who cracked the code again. I thought if I could do what I did in that couple of years with the pageant, I could surely do that again with the next big thing. Knowing what I was capable of, not being her didn’t make any sense.
Fast forward 30 years to my now 16 year old daughter and a husband who is my biggest fan in every way. I have struggled over the years with that negative voice that got stuck in my head telling me no one cares what I have to say. With the help of a loving mentor, and the love and support of family and friends, I finally kicked it to the curb.
My first book is for that daring, determined, dynamic girl.
That girl is me.