Sarah, why did you want to enter the Miss Oklahoma pageant?
I had watched the Miss America Pageant every year for as long as I can remember and always dreamed of competing one day. After competing in the Miss Oklahoma’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, I realized what the job of Miss Oklahoma was all about and decided to start competing once I was eligible. The Miss America/Miss Oklahoma Organization is all about scholarship, service, style, and success. I also grew up playing classical piano starting at the age of 4 so knowing about the talent portion of the competition that would give me extra opportunities to perform my passion definitely made it extra special.
“I had watched the Miss America Pageant every year for as long as I can remember…”
How did you prepare mentally for this venture?
Honestly, there is nothing that can mentally prepare you for competition week. You spend all year, for several hours a day, preparing for this one week of competition that can change the rest of your life. You perfect your talent, you workout hours a day to perfect your body, you watch the news and keep up with current events so you can speak articulately on any subject, and you train and train and train for a job that requires stamina, intelligence, responsibility, authenticity…the list is endless.
The best piece of advice I received about being mentally tough was to stay in your lane with blinders on. Don’t allow yourself to compare to anyone around you or try to be like anyone around you. If you are not your truest version of yourself, then you’re doing it wrong. So being confident in who I was, what I had done to prepare, and knowing that I had done everything I could do was what kept me sane during it all. I really think that was one of the best lessons I learned from pageants that I can carry with me anywhere.
“You spend all year, for several hours a day, preparing for this one week of competition that can change the rest of your life.”
What kinds of obstacles did you overcome in this process?
Well, little did I know going into competing that it would take me SIX years to win. I literally took a step closer every single year. I started with making the top 10 then the next year being 4th runner-up, then 3rd runner-up, 2nd runner-up, 1st runner-up, then finally being crowned Miss Oklahoma. That required me to persevere, to continue striving for my goal, and to push through those days that I just wanted to give up. Preparation during the year was a top priority so sometimes I missed difference college events or special times with friends but I always had to remember that my dream wasn’t going to come easy. Sometimes I doubted my ability and myself; I questioned if it was going to be worth it or if I was good enough. But after finally winning, I realized how important all six of those years were in order to fully prepare me to be my absolute best. Timing is everything. Trust the process.
“Stay in your lane with blinders on. Don’t allow yourself to compare to anyone around you or try to be like anyone around you.”
Was it all worth it?
Absolutely. Every minute of it was worth it. There is no greater feeling in the world than walking into a school assembly with hundreds of students listening to your every word, or walking on the Miss America stage as Miss Oklahoma, or traveling with our Veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials of the wars they fought, or flying in a fighter jet with the Thunderbirds. I had the time of my life as Miss Oklahoma and am so thankful that I chose not to give up. There were so many special moments that I had with people across our state that I will cherish forever.
Do you have any advice for girls who have big goals but are unsure of themselves?
I was so unsure of myself before I started competing, but I knew I had a goal I wanted to accomplish. You first have to believe in yourself before anyone else can. I had to believe that I could do it, that I could improve, practice, and prepare for my goal. I knew it would take a lot of work, therefore, it took encouragement from others, self-discipline, failure, and time to finally reach the target. I say, go for it. Put everything you have into what you want to do. Be uncomfortable. It’s when you’re out of your comfort zone that you allow yourself to be stretched and pushed to reach your fullest potential. It’s like I mentioned before, stay in your lane. Only worry about becoming the best version of who you already are, not who someone else is. Find your “why” and let that fuel your fire. That is what I have learned over the years and continue to remind myself daily – that I am capable and enough.
“You first have to believe in yourself before anyone else can.”