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MIKYLA MARIE MANU

My travels, thoughts, memories, and love all in one place. Life documented as a twenty-something.

EVERYTHING PAGEANTS HAVE TAUGHT ME & THEN SOME


Sometimes no matter how badly you want something to be for you, it just isn't. And when that realization does come, it comes at the strangest and most inconvenient of times. And you don't even want to admit it came but when you are honest with yourself, brutally honest, you know.
You just know.

The first pageant I competed in was the summer after I graduated high school. I competed for the coveted Miss Idaho Falls title and placed as second runner-up. At the time I was upset I had not won Miss Idaho Falls but still so proud of my success as a first timer. Looking back now, second place was extremely well for a pageant rookie with braces and bangs. Boy, was I innocent! After that summer I went to BYU for my freshmen year of school. Freshmen year was hard. And a part of me died freshmen year that I didn't find again till my study abroad. During my freshmen year I ended up winning the title of Miss Tri Counties and competed in the Miss Idaho program that spring. I tried so hard in my prep for Miss Idaho. I wanted that crown more than anything. I put everything I had into my prep for Miss Idaho and when I didn't even make top eleven, I was devastated. Again looking back now, I realize how young I was and how much developing I had to do as an individual. I had so much to learn about life and about myself. The next fall I went back to school for my sophomore year with even more determination to someday be Miss Idaho.

Knowing that interview was the weakest portion of the competition for me drove me to take every opportunity to develop those skills. I would attend interview workshops to practice. During this time I heard about the Miss Collegiate America pageant, a pageant line that heavily focuses on interview and academics. I couldn't think of a better way to practice my interview skills then through this program. I signed up as a contestant purely for the interview practice. I didn't think I had a chance at the title since their where so many contestants who had also competed in the Miss Utah and Miss Utah USA competitions. Fate must have it but I ended up not only winning interview but also the title of Miss Utah Collegiate. What an amazing journey being Miss Utah Collegiate was. The following summer I competed for Miss Collegiate America in Orlando, FL. There I met 52 AH-MAZING girls with five of them becoming some of my closest and dearest friends.

That same summer after nationals I was planning to compete again at Miss Idaho Falls. I was the shoe-in people were expecting to win. The title was suppose to be mine if I wanted it. And I did. But something was missing. Something felt off and I knew deep down I wasn't suppose to compete. At the last second I backed out from the competition.  I knew there was no way I would be able to put my entire heart into the title when I knew something felt wrong.

I learned so much as a result of not competing in Miss Idaho Falls that summer. I dated someone seriously, made new friends in apt. 113 and got involved with my major. I was also able to travel the world via a study abroad program. My experience traveling changed my life. Overseas, I found a part of Mikyla I had been missing since the first day of freshmen year. I tell my mom that the day I left the states was the day I finally started living.

I came back from my study abroad with a new found confidence in myself. I understood who I was now in a way I had not before. I went and watched Miss Idaho this summer and as I watched the phenomenal Sierra Sandison crowned, I knew again that someday that would be me. I would be Miss Idaho and compete on the Miss America stage someday. Right after Miss Idaho I signed up as a contestant in the Miss Idaho Falls program. It felt right this time around. Boy, did it feel right. I knew this was my time to shine. I worked so hard making sure I was strong in every aspect of the competition. I did a million mock interviews, spent a countless amount of hours in the gym, revamped my entire platform, and changed my entire dance solo. Everything had to be perfect and I worked and practiced so that everything would be.

The day of competition finally rolled around and I felt so ready. I felt so calm and peaceful. I'll admit it, I felt so confident going into the competition. I knew I was a well-rounded and interesting competitor with a lot to offer to the Miss Idaho Falls program. I aced my interview. I felt so comfortable in front of the judges. I've never shown more passion for my platform, emotion and drive for life in an interview as I did that morning. I know I truly left a great impression on the judges.

One thing I have learned with pageants is that if you don't have fun competing and are stressed out the entire time then what's the point of competing? Going into Miss Idaho Falls with this mentality made this competition one of the most fun and relaxed pageants I've participated in. So with Miss Idaho Falls I made the decision to just have fun. I had fun with the opening number, soaked in every second of swimsuit, cracked a joke with my onstage question and embraced evening gown like royalty. And talent... man, talent. I've never danced like that before in my life. Being onstage, alone in a pool of light did something to me. I forgot I was being watched by hundreds of people. And instead of dancing for them, I danced for myself.  For the first time in my life I was dancing for me, for Mikyla. I've never been more raw and vulnerable during a performance as I was then. I wish I could even begin to describe it but even the feeling and the moment are too special for words. The moment brought me to tears and my sweet father to tears. That's something I've never done before.
I let it all out there on that stage. Every part of me.

As I waited backstage with all of the contestants I felt so calm. I knew that whatever happened would be what was truly suppose to happen. Finally all of the contestants were welcomed back onstage together. As I held hands with Kaitlyn Anderson and Katelyn Strobel it hit me how blessed I was to even be onstage with these incredible ladies. Every girl on stage was so accomplished, so charitable and so outstanding. I was lucky to even be amongst them. I felt so proud and so happy for the girls that were called as either runner-ups or one of the three titleholder winners. Finally it came down to announce the new Miss Idaho Falls. I stood there next to Katelyn Stobel and as her name was called over mine, I threw my arms around her and whispered, "You did it sis! You're Miss Idaho Falls!"

Every ounce of me felt so happy for her. There was no room for sadness or jealousy. Not even for a split second.

Like I said, I knew whatever happened was suppose to happen. And I know I didn't win the title of Miss Idaho Falls for a very specific reason. I have no idea what that reason is but I'm so excited to find out.

I have had so many people come to me asking me how I feel about the whole thing. Honestly I feel so at peace. I know that I gave that competition my all. How I understand and know myself now is nothing compared to before. I can truthfully say that I have never been more honest, raw, vulnerable and so "me" than I was that night. I've never been more proud of a performance and more proud of myself.

I left my heart on that stage.

And I just wasn't what the judges wanted and I am okay with that. I just understand it wasn't meant to be and I can't argue with those feelings. Katelyn Strobel and the other titleholders will represent Idaho Falls so well at Miss Idaho. I am so excited to support her during her year of service and see all the wonderful things she will bring to Idaho Falls.

A lot of people have been asking me if I will compete again in another local for Miss Idaho. If you want to know the truth it's "I don't know". When I am being completely honest with myself my Miss Idaho journey feels so complete. And I hope people realize that I am not giving up on pageants because I am "bitter". If you're reading this and have gotten to this point of the post I would hope you realize that bitter is the farthest thing I am from. Pageants will always be such a huge part of my life. They are a part of who I am. But this segment, this chapter of my life feels complete. So who knows, maybe I will compete again and maybe I will not? That is something only time can tell.

But regardless of what happens I am so grateful for everything that pageants have taught me. Because of my participation in pageants I have refined myself as an individual. I have learned how to walk with grace and poise, speak eloquently, dance for myself and be a woman of my own mind. Because of pageants I have never been closer to my mother than I am right now. And because of pageants my life has been touched by so many individuals - Laura Hampikian, Deidre Miller,  Trina Rydalch, Shandra Pfieffer, Shareece Baddley, Kara Jackson and Nancy Howard to name just a few. Each one of you brought so much light and flair into my life. I will forever be grateful to you and look forward to our lasting and loyal friendships with one another.

So whats next then? This is a question I've been asking myself too. Up until now I have always had something I have been working and driven towards. And whatever unique goal I have had has always set me apart in a way. I am one of those goal-oriented, to-do list lovers and task specific individuals. Trust me I still have plenty of goals on my list of things to accomplish but for right now I just need a little bit to just be. But what is next is my senior year of college, living with my best friend in a huge house of fun girls, taking weekend trips because for once I just can, being fully a part of BYUSA... what is next is giving dating an honest chance, taking time to be talented at being me, continuing to dance for myself, loving the little things I often push aside and finding out the reason why I know this is all meant to be.

xx,
m.

TWENTY-ONE

Never Stop Exploring