I remember feeling paralyzed with fear the first time I was called into the top five at Miss North Dakota.
I remember thinking, “But what if I actually win???” and being terrified by that thought. I mean, yes, I wanted it. But I never felt that I was “perfect” enough — that I didn’t have all my sh** together so I obviously wasn’t ready or qualified for the job. Who was I to win? I compared myself to girls who seemingly knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives — who had a specific game plan that they were following. And me? Hah! I’ve never felt that I have had a set trajectory for my life. Yes, I’ve known that I wanted to go to college and eventually grad school and find a job that I loved... but beyond that, whew. The details for a long time eluded me and are still making themselves known, which is a fact that bothered me in the past because I desperately WANTED that strategic, efficient, and set in stone game plan.
It’s only been during the past year that I’ve finally accepted that it’s okay to not know specifically where I’m headed in life, and that’s the beauty and excitement right there: to not know. But instead, to find meaning and value in the everyday moments. That my purpose shouldn’t be found in where I’m headed, but where I am right now: the people and experiences that are right in front of me. I’ve made it a habit in telling myself that I must trust the process — that if I work hard and treat people with kindness along the way... that things will have a way of working out.
So, if you don’t know what you’re doing with your life or where you’re headed... that’s okay. Most of us don’t. Many of us feel as if we’re in limbo (especially right now) and that this “in between phase” feels like a waste of time. I’ve realized that living in limbo is especially frustrating for me because I feel like I don’t see as much progress and direction as I typically do, and I’m bothered by the idea of being stagnant with my goals and subsequent actions. But the fact is, I’m not. And you’re not either. Being stagnant is an illusion. There’s growth and change happening even when things might seem slow or appear to be at a standstill.
Keep trusting yourself and the process, be kind, and give yourself some grace if you feel like you don’t have everything “figured out.” None of us really do.
There’s your daily dose of motivation, friends — here’s to the start of another week of quarantine!
The first time I stood on the Miss North Dakota stage was 5 years ago.
It was 2015, I was a teenager and had recently finished my freshman year at Concordia College, and Donald Trump was not yet on anyone’s radar of someday becoming President of the United States.
My first time competing at Miss North Dakota I arrived by train from Montana where I had been in staff training at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp to become a camp counselor. I remember hopping off the train wearing my chacos and gym shorts and driving to the Williston State dorm where all the candidates were staying. I recall unpacking my multiple suitcases filled to the brim with six inch heels, makeup products, and sparkly dresses and hurrying off to meet the other candidates that first evening of Miss North Dakota Week.
Boy, what a full six days that followed.
Somehow, I made it to finals night without breaking an ankle — and was announced as a top ten finalist, and eventually top five. By the time I was called into the top five, my hands were shaking and my armpits were dripping with sweat. I remember barely hearing a word of my final onstage question. What I do recall, is blanking, pausing for what seemed like an eternity, and then recovering with the words: “Wow, that was a brain fart. World peace!” (The video still exists on my personal Instagram account).
Obviously, I did not win that night — which is why I’m still here and competing one more time (woo!). I share this as a reminder that sometimes you’re not going to get it the first time. Or the second, or even the third. Or maybe even the fourth. But along the way you’re going to learn a LOT. And you’re going to meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that are going to be stories that you will tell for the rest of your life. So keep at it! Timing doesn’t always play out the way we originally want it to and sometimes (OK, oftentimes) things don’t go the way we would like, but ultimately things have a way of playing out the way they’re supposed to. Whether you’re a believer or not, I believe that God’s hand is in everything and that his timing is perfect. Trust that fact.
That’s my Ted Talk for today, folks — that you should keep going at it. And I’ll be right there with ya — going at it, too.
currently lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she works remotely as a Policy and Communication Manager for the First Lady of North Dakota. Photography and writing are a passion that help her better appreciate the details of the world.