Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nursing the Dream

My name is __________, 22, Philippines! I can practice saying that for the rest of my life. And with Miss Universe 2011 happening this Sept. 12, expect that there'll be more daydreaming about this in the coming days.

This post is related to my dream of becoming the Miss Universe someday. It's all past experience and lessons learned. Some girls never really grow out of it even if we pretend otherwise.
When I was young, I thought being Miss Universe was the most beautiful occupation a person can be in. And maybe I'm still right. But back then, being Miss Universe meant that the whole world supposedly adores you and you represent the universe to...well, the universe. The title was a marker that every little girl wanted to hold as their own and being Miss Universe was like being a real life Barbie doll.

I wanted to be Miss Universe. I remember dressing up in gowns which were acting as brooms when I walked, the way they picked up every kind of dust on the floor because I was obviously too short for them. I would practice putting make up on and even our house help helped painting my face. Every time the pageant came on I was all eyes on the screen. It was the "what I want to be when I grow up", the ambition in every autograph book I signed. 

But when I started high school, the dream started fading. Of course, a lot of dreams fade when you're in high school. In that age, I started to realize a lot of things about the world and the troubles one must go through to reach their dreams. I started to see that beauty pageants like the Miss Universe, although it is accepted worldwide, also comes with extra chatter. Not every candidate is aspired and adored. Not every candidate gets the thumbs up. And at least one of the candidates of all these countries will mess up or get laughed at by people they don't even know. It was heart wrenching. To see all those women walk around the stage and display themselves to people who only think of their inner animal. And what's more, I couldn't do anything because I believed them.

Actually, the real reason I never pursued the dream was because right when I was in first year high school, we discovered that I had scoliosis. No, it's not a deadly disease. It's merely a deformation of the spine. Instead of having a straight spine, I had an inverted S. It was nothing really. I still have it today and it still feels painful sometimes. But I guess it was nothing enough to extinguish the hope of being one of the candidates. 

Obviously, if you are a candidate of the Miss Universe, you need to be at least near perfect in physical, mental and emotional status. Financial status comes after winning the title. You need to at least look the best and speak your mind without having to fear what others think because you know you're right. You are after all the representative of the whole universe. The true Miss Universe is someone who can be a role model to the rest of the world.

I was not that kind of material. I came from another block of misfits called the slightly damaged group. And since then I joined the gang of critics who comment on every swim wear and evening gown the candidates wear. I wasn't bitter, just cynical.

I'm sorry about that. All those feelings tagged along in my life since then. I did join one pageant and won an award for hair, but any other pageant that could have started the fire in me was left to burn their own ashes. I gave up.

This post isn't for the losers like me, however. This post is meant to ignite the dreams of those who have long decided that beauty does not possess brains not brawn. I submit to all of you, therefore, that beauty pageants do have their roles in little girls' hearts.

Because I couldn't join (or wouldn't join) beauty pageants, I decided to admire them from afar. I became skeptical to some and even outraged by the kind of pageants others decide to put up. There is a limit on joining pageants and whatever limit you set yourself will prove to show how desperate you are. I'll give you one rule that every candidate must take care to follow: don't join pageants that will only degrade your integrity. Pageants that offer more malice and scandal than fame and dignity are likely to damage your chances of ever being Miss Universe. Pageants that don't mind improper attires and careless costumes should likely be banned from the system if only the sponsors would protest. So if you want to become a candidate for Miss Universe, be sure your slate is clean of embarrassing past pageants.

For those who are like me and proudly admit their participation in the slightly damaged group, no worries. If you really want to join, you can always do something about the damage to fix it. I could have straightened my back bone if I had responsibly and diligently exercised all through the years but I didn't. I could have a straight spine right now and be part of the 2011 pageant but I gave up too soon. Don't let that happen to you. If you're dream is to walk on stage and represent your country as the most beautiful, wise and witty woman in the universe, then get off your butt and start fixing yourself. There's a way as long as you're still alive. There will always be a way to reach the right dreams.

Summing up this post full of wishes, I'd like to tell you my answer if ever I am to be the next Miss Universe:

As Miss Universe (year something something) I will leave a legacy of hope. There is always a way to your dreams if you hope. And I can help you find your way. Don't lose heart and give up. Let's not imprison ourselves with fear or doubt. The world cannot be made right or better if people like you and me just give up. We are all part of a grand plan and if we succeed, if we dare to hope to succeed, we can reach that finish line with smiles on our faces and crowns on our heads. As one children's book author so accurately put it, "whenever you have hope, you're never really anybody's prisoner". God bless us all.

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