A Pageant Dropout’s Guide to Love

Every shred of my true self had disappeared – but that was a good thing, right? Now I was exactly what the judges wanted.

The pageant came. I was nervous. After all, I was giving myself to them completely. My body, mind, and soul had been pining for this for months. I had dropped everything else I was doing, just for this. My career, my self-esteem, my life depended on winning. I had twisted myself to fit the mold of a smiling, perfect beauty queen. Was I good enough, yet?

They loved me, they said. But it was not meant to be.

I lost a lot more than the crown, that night. I felt I had lost my purpose, my sense of self…my identity. But that was only because I had given them away. This was a messy breakup, the kind that takes a couple of years to bounce back from. And today, looking back, I finally see it all so clearly.

It wasn’t the pageant that broke my heart; it was my warped view of it. I had come to depend on their admiration so much that I lost the ability to supply it for myself.

When your entire self-worth is wrapped up in something (or someone)… it’s not love. It took me several unhealthy relationships and losing an international beauty pageant to learn this the hard way.

Don’t say ‘I’ll love myself when [insert self-improvement goal here]. Because self-love is not conditional, self-loathing is. Acceptance and approval from others may be what you want, but self-love is what you need. If you do not truly value yourself, attention from others will never be enough.

Love is not a competition. If your partner (or crush) demands that you change yourself in exchange for their affection, walk away. There is only one you. And you deserve to have your needs met, just as much as anyone else. Love is not a game to win; it’s a journey to share.

This may have been a painful experience, but I have no regrets. I’ve learned from each mistake. Every failure presents an opportunity to love myself better next time. And I’m grateful. Starting over was a gift that led me here.

So, take it from the Pageant Dropout: Life is short; live the one that satisfies you. Love is valuable, so invest in the one that feeds your soul.

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A Pageant Dropout’s Guide to Love

About The Author
- RJ Newell is a freelance content creator with an entertainment background. She currently contributes to LoveTV.co, the Huffington Post, the Daily Twenties and more. When RJ isn't writing, she enjoys performing, modeling and creating quirky films. To see more of her adventures, please visit racheljnewell.com.