If You Do One Thing This Month: If you are in your teens or younger, read the book "Do Hard Things" by Alex and Brett Harris; if you are an adult, give a copy of the book to a young person in your life.
Favorite Activity of the Month: Biking and hiking the Scottsbluff National Monument. It is a two mile bike-ride to the Visitors' Center from my house, and then a mile and a half hike to the summit. I hiked it about four times a week in June - such a good walk, and a beautiful view at the top! I aim to do it many more times this summer!
Verse of the Month: I Timothy 4:12 - My motto verse for this year
Concept of the Month: Age is just a number; maturity and intelligence are really the only things that differentiate one age from another.
I began competing in pageants at 13 yrs old, following in my older sister's footsteps by competing in and winning the Scottsbluff County Fair Teen title. I loved it so much, I was instantly hooked. For the next four years I continued competing in Nebraska's Outstanding Teen system, and loved every minute of it. When I turned 17 this past February, I couldn't wait to begin competing in the Miss division! I entered the Saline County Scholarship Program and won the title of Miss Southeast the next weekend. (When I say I couldn't wait, I literally couldn't wait longer than a week!) Up to that point, I had never even thought twice about my age; I was within the age requirements, so it was no big deal. Throughout my life I had never let my lack of years on the earth hold me back in anything, and taking my example from many other successful young people, I found that each person has the capacity to do all that they strive to do; the number of years they have been alive has no bearing on this at all.
As I prepared for Miss Nebraska, however, I began to realize that not everyone viewed age as I always had. Most compliments I heard during the week were accompanied by some variation of "You're doing so well for your age!" While not at all an unwelcomed compliment, this was the beginning of my realization that for some reason, my age was a big deal. After winning the title of Miss Nebraska, this suddenly became the main talking point of every media outlet, and the focal point of each person acquainted with my background. Although at first I vigorously opposed my age being an important point of discussion, it didn't take long to learn that I couldn't disconnect myself from my "trademark:" being the youngest Miss Nebraska ever. At first I reluctantly submitted myself to this fate, but as teenagers began to thank me for inspiration and adults encouraged me for showing just what youth were capable of, I realized what a great tool this could be for me. On an elevated platform such as my title, I have the unique opportunity to utilize this automatic "spotlight."
I quickly decided to make the most of my fabulous situation and determined to spread hope and inspiration to all "youth-doubters." I have always been a resolute "teenitarian," (one who believes in the power of teenagers) so I will take this year, as well as the rest of my life, to encourage those who are falling to passiveness when it comes to the behavior of America's youth today. As a nation, we simply cannot settle for the moral corruption, degraded standards, and low expectations of my generation. Rebelliousness, entitlement, and just plain laziness seem to be proliferating in our youth, and instead of responding, many older generations are being permeated with complacency. "Kids will be kids" and "Sow your wild oats while you can" are mottos heard all too often. These were never acceptable excuses in my family, and I continue to fight against the acceptance of these attitudes toward children and teenagers. As strong, energetic, and capable people, we should be in our best years throughout the teens! There is so much opportunity within our reach; why not reach out and take it? Still at the age that most consider "young," I strive to learn all I can, experience everything possible, and work hard to begin fulfilling my dreams NOW, not "when I grow up." This way, those a few years older than me will not have anything on me when it comes to experiences, knowledge, or capabilities. Today is the day to try something new, to be a good example, and to do your best, no matter what your age.
I sincerely hope that I have, and will, successfully exemplify these ideas throughout my life. Carpe Diem, seize the day. Don't let anyone think less of you for your age, but no matter what, show that you are truly living your life to the fullest, therefore becoming an inspiration to others. When I arrived home after the pageant, I found I Timothy 4:12 taped under my school picture in our hallway - my mom always seems to know exactly how to put my mind in the right place.