Here’s me and my mommy after I won my town’s pageant on Friday night! Pardon my face; I was slightly overwhelmed, after smiling for longer than I ever have in my life.
But what’s more important is how I won. It’s not a beauty pageant; it’s based more off of community service, confidence, poise, and public speaking. They read off our community service/activities during the business portion, then we speak our future goals/platform during casual, and finish in our gowns with a question. I saw the scores the day after the pageant. It all came down to who could speak the best. Specifically, the platform.
A platform is a cause you’d like to advocate or raise awareness for. You talk about why you chose it, what you can do to help, and why they should care.
My platform was mental health awareness. I got up and stated my future goals, and spewed some statistics about mental health and adolescence. I then compared those statistics to that of the population of the high school where the pageant took place. I stated my point, then hesitated. I proceeded to tell the judges, families, and my peers that I’ve battled depression and anxiety for years, and that the hardest obstacle I’ve had to overcome was the fact that very few people understand my condition.
My mother once told me, “It doesn’t make sense to blame people for being ignorant. The only thing you can hope to do is educate them.” This is what I plan to do. I want to stop complaining about feeling alone and misunderstood, and do something about it. I’m lucky to have a voice, because so many just don’t have that volume to be able to speak. Even if I am just one voice, I’ll scream to be heard. I want people to know that depression isn’t always visible, and that it’s not okay to use “OCD” or “bipolar” as adjectives; that schizophrenia doesn’t mean multiple personalities, and that the phrase “mental illness” is okay to say out loud, in normal conversation.
Long story not very short, I won the pageant because I got up and talked about something that’s not normally talked about. I admitted to having a mental illness(I actually used the words my condition) in front of an auditorium full of people, and they gave me a tiara and a sash and a big trophy, with the responsibility of representing the town at all of the events for the next year. Because I spoke up.
Everyone needed to hug me and take a picture with me, and it took a few minutes for me to realize that every single person in that room knew that I have a mental illness. Yet, they all congratulated me and complimented me on my speaking and my gown. They respected me. One huge leap for mental health awareness. Score one for Rachel. The quote of the day: “I got up in front of an auditorium full of people and told them I had depression and anxiety, and they gave me a crown.”