You cannot be an M&M if God made you a Skittle.
You have worked so hard for that title. You've forsaken carbs. You've not touched soda pop in who knows how long. You've sworn off sweets. You've slaved at the gym, or at least done enough squats that climbing stairs feels like cruel and unusual punishment. You worked so hard for that crown and sash.
And another girl walked away with it.
If you are anything like me, you will probably cry a little (after the festivities, of course). You may find yourself in one of two situations: wondering what they saw in HER, or wondering what YOU did wrong. Rare are the women who understand what really happened up there. So, for those of you who are not in that third category, I posit a few thoughts:
First, If God chose to make you Skittle, you cannot become an M&M.
Have you heard of that crazy (awful) prank where you mix M&Ms with Skittles and then leave the bowl out for unsuspecting victims? Well, the theory is that some people will immediately think "Oh yay! Skittles" and the other half will think "Yasss! Chocolate!" Both throw a handful in their mouth and receive a very nasty combination of chocolate covered fruityness... and not in a chocolate-covered cherries sort of way. No matter how delish M&Ms are, if you are wanting Skittles, there is nothing worse than M&Ms (except possibly pepperoni). Are you catching the drift?
If a judge is looking for a Skittle, it does't matter how chocolatey, melts-in-your-mouth-not-in-your-hand good you are, you cannot be a Skittle. You know you are not, and so do they. Pretending otherwise is no good for anyone. Does it mean you are not simply amazing? No. Does it mean that on any other day you would run away with it? Maybe! Love that you are what you are meant to be. Be glad you are not trying to be what you are not.
Second, when judges go into a pageant, they are trained on what to look for in a titleholder. Very rarely does a delegate have a cornered market on everything a judge is looking for. Some may be incredibly strong in one area (say, passion for her platform), while another sweeps the competition in another (fierce six-pack), and a third may have great potential at nationals, but will not grow her state pageant because she is focused on the big prize. Judges have to determine which of these delegates best serves the needs of the pageant at that point in time.
The best advice I can give here? Be mindful of what a pageant needs. Consider as if you were the director. Find a way to let the judges know that you can check those boxes. Perhaps your laser-focus on your platform kept you from revealing your intentions at nationals. Maybe your focus on nationals left judges wondering what happens at the state level once your ship comes in. And for the love of rhinestones, do NOT make the title about what YOU get out of it!
Third, we have all heard the adage (and I referred to it earlier): a different day, and a different panel may have produced entirely different results. I once competed in a pageant where I walked away with Best Evening Gown, Best Swimsuit, and Best [Costume], but did not even place as a finalist. Sounds fishy, right? Nope! A different panel had judged for those awards, and that panel was pleased by my performance. The panel that chose the winner? Not so much. (I wish their roles had been reversed!) If this is not an example of the adage being true, I don't know what would be.
Regardless of what happens on the stage and what awards you do (or do not) take home, do not let it tear you down. Everything happens in life for a reason, and it is up to us to find what that is. Get some honest feedback, if it is available, and work on those areas that stand in need of workshopping. Engage a professional coach if budget permits, or ask a group of friends, coworkers, school mates, or your family to give you objective critique. But whatever you do, do not give up. Once you give up, then you have truly lost, and that falls square on your shoulders!
Now, go get some M&Ms... or Skittles... NEVER BOTH... and have a break. Then get back to work for the next round!