As memories tend to fade the longer you wait to attempt to recount them, I have decided to stop making excuses not to share these experiences with the world. Or more like my future self in 25 years as I try to convince my daughter who’s entering the prime of her life that, “Yes, your mother was once beautiful and young like you are now. I’ve been through everything you are only starting to experience. I can be your best friend so don’t hold anything back.” Or it could very well be the hubris in me speaking out once again, but nevertheless, here is my story.
I can’t believe I’m turning 24 in a month. Wasn’t it just last year that I first ventured off on my own? I was finally free and no longer under the roof of my parents. I was living the independent life. Oh yes! Six years later, it just became the norm and no longer something to get excited about. What have I accomplished? Graduated from college, check. Found a job, check. Made new and amazing friends, check. Now what? Am I going through a quarter-life crisis?
The answer was what reminded me of the time my friend suggested that I should join a beauty pageant. At the time, I simply smiled sarcastically and said, “I have no desire to put myself out there and be judged based on my appearance.”
Yet, here I was, 2 years later, signing up for an audition. My reasoning was this.
I have never been in better shape than I am currently. I had just gone through 15 personal training sessions and looking better and better each day. I just need that extra push for me to shed my baby fat completely. Maybe I can even get a killer bod while I’m at it.
$150 poorer and an audition date set on the day following my birthday, I was ready. At the same time, I wasn’t about to tell anyone this news. Needless to say, I was embarrassed. Quick side story about my childhood. I was always a tom-boy who secretly wished to be pretty. My weight fluctuated from over to under more frequently than it should. It wasn’t until college that I went through a transformation. Think The Ugly Duckling though I was always unusually pale.
My first thought was, I really need to shed some serious fat everywhere. My quick absorption and slow metabolism doesn’t help at all. I was eating less calories, but more quantity. I was working out almost every day and I was cutting out alcohol. I really wasn’t losing that much fat, but I was definitely looking better than I did before I started to train.
Day before my audition was my birthday and I had gone out to celebrate. The closet to alcohol I got to was from the stories told by my friends who thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Good job. I also had no choice but to tell everyone why I was not drinking, hence now the news is out that I have joined a pageant. To my amazement, not a single joke was made. Instead, I got comments like, “Nina, you’ll get in for sure.” “Nina, you’re so hot, you’ve got this.”
As your more confident self, said my thoughts, of course you’ve got this.
My other self, the more rational and cautious said, Yea, but you don’t want to get your hopes up and set yourself so high. It might be too painful and embarrassing, don’t you think? So I simply responded to all the comments with, “You never know”.
All throughout the 4-hour wait the next day, my stomach growled from lack of food since dinner the day before and my mind pestered me with doubts.
“Yes!” It’s finally time! Don’t be nervous. Stop biting your lips. Don’t fix your hair, it’s fine. SMILE. No, that totally looks fake. Quick, think of something funny. Uh, uh, uh…What was that one about a lawyer and golfing? Okay, sing a song. La la la… Never mind, whatever, just GO!
Standing in front a panel of 5 judges and the winner from the previous year, I got a major dose of stage fright. My stage fright is a bit different, I never freeze up or anything. I simple enter into autopilot mode. It’s like my more rational self runs and hides behind my more sophisticated, aristocratic and Charming self, my Marie Antoinette.
Why are you so afraid? She would ask.
No clue. The voice seems distant or just sounding more like a kitten’s meow. Yep, that’s me being a scaredy-cat.
So I of course swim through the interview smoothly, navigating between Chinese and English like an Olympic pro. Yes, awesome, they like me!
With my years of catwalk training in college from doing several fashion shows a year, I also ace that portion.
At last! I will now wow them with my fan dance. Yes, be mesmerized. Wheeeeeee! My inner cat does a happy dance and continues to watch from behind.
With the dance now complete, my interview had came to a close.
“We will notify you in about week if you’ve made it into top 28.”
“Okay, thank you.” I’ve got this in the bag! Big smile yes!
Yea, I only wish I held on to that thought for even a day after the audition. But of course, I don’t hear back from them for another two weeks.
My inner cat is crying and Marie is also starting to seem less confident than usual…