By Janelli Ann Sison
Art By Sydney Udag
Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, Megan Young, and Catriona Gray. We view them as these perfect, beautiful, and smart role models, but they didn’t just wake up thinking, “oh, I AM gonna take that crown.” Everyone has their own deals of battles to face and self-doubts to go through. These beauty queens are no different, and I am no different.
Last 2019, I competed in a pageant in UP Clark, in UP Pampanga, under the name of my sorority. Surprisingly, I bagged numerous awards and the title of Ms. UP Clark. As they mention my candidate number, I took a double look at the badge I was wearing to confirm if it was really me. “Me? Who could’ve thought!” I didn’t expect to pull it off as my competitors are more experienced and more glamorous than me. The achievement wasn’t comparable to big pageant contests, but I am proud to say it was a step forward not only for my sorority but towards the boost of my self-trust.
When I was young, I watched pageants and even reenacted beauty queens’ walks with my handmade sash and paper crowns. I idolized them as they are not only beautiful, but they also advocated for different causes that would help the community.
However, for me, this was only a play-thing, and never had I envisioned myself walking and smiling on the stage. I would always prefer staying within my comfort zone, doing the same thing I was used to doing; masked behind this shyness and timidness were my self-doubts and insecurities.
“What if they don’t like me? There would always be someone better than me. I would just embarrass myself. I am okay with what I have now. No need to try other things.”
These were some thoughts that passed through my mind whenever I was encouraged by my friends to join. They knew I was deserving of presenting myself to the world, or UP Clark, at least.
But back then, I would always look for reasons not to, even though somewhere inside me, there was the 5-year-old me looking up to Miriam Quiambao through the screen.
The voice of my little self encouraged me to do it.
During the preparations for the pageant, there were a lot of people who guided me with everything. From my fairy godmothers who taught me how to walk and to answer pageant questions, to my sorority sisters and family who would stay even past midnight during my practices to make sure someone was always with me.
Even though I had this huge support system, I still felt awkward and incapable of my own abilities. Most of the time, I would even think about the reasons why I was still doing it and if everything was worth it.
To be honest, I felt guilty as these thoughts passed by my mind. It was unfair for those people who believed in me. Without them, I don’t think I could have learned to see my timid and diffident self from a different perspective– an intelligent and hardworking woman.
I realized that a lot of people care about me and trust me, and all I had to do was to trust myself too.
Even though I was skeptical at first, the pageant journey helped me place greater trust in myself. It taught me to ignore whatever other people might think of me and to just listen to the voice inside of me.
All the insecurities and excuses I have are only made up by my mind; the real competitor I had wasn’t the prettier girls, but myself.
Sometimes, we set standards too high to purposely pressure ourselves, which would only constrain us in trying out new things and opportunities.
With this, I learned to love myself even more and trusted my capabilities.
As you start putting trust in yourself, you can come to realize that there is another world you have yet to discover.
In my case, I used my platform to advocate for children’s right to education. This tiny step became a stepping stone for me to do more for our community. Being brave and taking on different challenges would not only be for yourself but also to help and inspire others to do the same.
In commemoration of International Women’s Month, I encourage every woman to trust and believe in herself. I urge you to step out of your comfort zone and just take the risk. It is your own life you are living, and you shouldn’t let anyone hinder you from doing what you want to do.
The only time an opportunity is closed is when you hold the doorknobs by yourself.
As you open one door, I believe that many more doors would open by themselves. You hold the key to your own fate. And with this, you can take your own step forward with what empowers you–heels, sneakers. Whatever you choose.
Happy International Women’s Month!