I haven’t watched the Miss America pageant for years. Why not? Well, for lots of reasons: there’s the raging feminist in me who can barely stomach the thing, there’s the insecure girl in me who’s terrified of seeing beautiful women in bikinis (complex, anyone?), and of course, there’s the fact that I cannot relate to a single person on that stage.
Miss Oklahoma, I feel for you.
I can imagine what might have been going through your brain the closer you got to that crown. With every elimination, the diamonds must have looked brighter, bigger, and infinitely more attainable. When you first stepped on that stage you were probably thinking it was an amazing accomplishment to even get that far. And then the longer the night wore on, a little voice inside your head kept repeating “Maybe I can win!” and as the numbers were whittled down to three that voice said, “Maybe I will win!”
You got so close. Second runner up. Third place. If it were the Olympics you’d have been on the podium. You came close enough to have touched the glittery tiara. Close enough to know you were in that competition for a reason. Close enough to be taken seriously. I mean, if number one and then number two cannot fulfill her duties, guess who’s Miss America?
But for now, you are number three. It’s awesome. It really is. And you know that. Yet it stings, just a little.
I know. I feel for you.
I myself am a runner up in the Mslexia novel competition. Out of nearly 1,000 entries my YA novel Untethered finished in the TOP THREE!!!! I’m thrilled. I’m shouting it from the mountain tops (and I live in Switzerland — lots of mountaintops here). I’m even tweeting it.
Yet it stings, just a little. Because when I entered I never imagined I could really win. But as the longlist turned into the shortlist turned into the days before the final announcement, that insidious little voice tickled my ear and said, “Maybe, just maybe, you will win!”
Winning isn’t all that important, though, is it? Well, no, yes, it is. But what I mean to say is that being third is still a big enough deal to erase any doubts I have about that book being worthy. It is enough to confirm what my fellow writers have been telling me all along, but what I wasn’t sure I could believe: Girl, you can write.
Thank God I didn’t have to do it in a swimsuit.