“And in no particular order, the first top ten semi-finalist for the national title of Ms. American Woman is…(drum roll)”
I can feel and hear every beat of my heart. My upper lip starts to quiver uncontrollably. Light headed and dizzy, I break out in a sweat and wonder if I’m going to faint. Please call my name…let it be me…
“Suzie Smith, Ms. New York.”
Oh man… Ok… there is still hope. Maybe I’ll be next. Applause for Ms. NY.
“Next is… (drum roll) Rhonda…”
OMG, it’s me… it’s me!
“…JONES, Ms. California”
Not me… (sigh)… it’s the other Rhonda in the pageant. I’m dying here.This is going to kill me…Yup, going to keel over right here in my evening gown. Why do I put myself through this time and time again…Applause for Ms. California.
“Welcome…(drum roll) Rhonda Shappert, Ms. Ohio”
Wait…was that my name.. yes…this time he really said my name. Whooo Hooo!
The rush of adrenaline that hits my body at that moment is overwhelming. I’m on a high. I made it! I really made the cut! As the night progresses, the top ten goes through the onstage interview, swimsuit and evening gown competitions until it’s time for the next cut. The top five.
Here we go again…OK…relax Rhonda…relax….
“Our first top five finalist is Rhonda…”
Wait for the full announcement this time, Rhonda…which Rhonda is it…
“Shappert Ms. Ohio”
Again, a feeling of relief and excitement come over me. Now the fish bowl question. Ok, (sigh) I survived that…The second runner up is ….. Not me…Ok, I’m still in the running…the first runner up is…Not me again…OH BOY :). There the three of us stand… waiting…one name to be called…waiting…
“Our new Ms. American Woman is…(drum roll) Rhonda Jones!
The other contestant grabs me and says, “CONGRATULATIONS!” I say “thanks, but it’s the OTHER Rhonda.” A huge sinking feeling comes over me, much like a deflating balloon.
TRUE STORY. I was the third runner up that year and this is one of my many pageant stories that illustrates the thrill of winning and the agony of defeat. As nerve racking as it is to be an audience member, it isn’t the same emotional rollercoaster ride a contestant feels.
I must say, mastery over my nerves has been one of the greatest life skills I have acquired through pageantry and today I’m going to share my 1,2,3 technique with you:).
Breathe In , Out and Think or 1, 2, 3
Take one second to breathe deeply from your diaphragm- a muscle below your lungs and rib cage. When you deep breathe, your shoulders should not move at all. Think of filling you stomach with air. As you breathe in, say these three words in your head “ breathe in hold”. On the exhale say “and out two”. Besides releasing stress, deep diaphragmatic breathing helps to temporarily eliminate that queasy feeling in your stomach-or the butterflies.
The third part is to think a very specific thought. If you think in pictures, I want you to picture in your mind a person, place or thing that instantly makes you feel joy, relaxed or confident. Or choose a favorite memory of yours and play it back in your mind. If you connect with music, pick a song that generates the feeling you want. Or perhaps it’s a word or phrase. You see, a thought will create a feeling and a feeling will lead to an action.
If you don’t like the feelings you’re having, change your thought. The more relaxed you are, the more confidence you will have and your actions will reflect that. I’m not saying it’s possible to totally eliminate the nerves, but to let nerves totally paralyze you can be prevented. Yes, it really is that simple. Practice this technique until it becomes easy so when you need it, it’s a habit.
Also, the more prepared you are for a situation, there’s less for you to be nervous about. If you’re nervous about interview, request my FREE interview card to get you started. These are the beginning 10 questions every person must know to be prepared for an interview. Regularly check the upcoming events column on my web site to see when local workshops will be held. The more practice you have on a stage walking and speaking, I promise you won’t be as nervous when it comes pageant time.
Beyond the Pageant
Nerves can get the best of you in any situation. It’s normal and it happens to everyone at some point in their life. We’re nervous over a job interview, waiting for news from the doctor’s office, a conversation with someone that has the potential of being confrontational and the list goes on of situations that can send us into panic attacks.
It all comes down to your thoughts. By becoming more aware of your thoughts, you can begin to feel the feelings that will drive your actions to where you want to go. It’s as simple as 1,2,3.
What do you do to help calm your nerves? I’d love to hear your comments in the comments box below or email me at Rhonda@WinningThroughPageantry.com.
Rhonda Shappert is a pageant coach expert, personal development life coach, and owner of Winning Through Pageantry™, a business she created that not only helps her clients achieve winning results in pageants, but helps them Succeed From The Inside Out™ in their lives. In the pageant world she has held multiple local, state and national titles. Rhonda graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors degree in Musical Theater from The Ohio State University and has performed on stage in 15 countries on the Asian, European and American continents. This mother of three, who has been married 20 years to her husband Stephen, is the former mayor of her community, and is on the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Virtual Academy. She and her husband perform original contemporary Christian music. Their music CD entitled Cana is available through www.cdbaby.com/cd/shappert or on her website. For more information on Rhonda, visit www.WinningThroughPageantry.com.