Leave a Little Sparkle Wherever You Go

July 16, 2017

Leave a Little Sparkle Wherever You Go

I still remember the exact day a family friend of mine suggested I compete in a local Indian pageant. With no hesitance, I said yes! Without any pageantry knowledge or coaching, all I put forth on the stage was the best version of me possible. With hard work and determination, I was lucky enough to make it to nationals and win the national title of Miss Teen TANA USA 2015! Through this title I was able to enhance my ethnicity, promote, and represent the diversity in the US, through community projects and service. It was also then, when I faced the numerous stereotypes that come along with any pageant girl.

I have had people talk about me to my face, behind my back, you name it! They would associate pageant girls with the lack of interest in education. I have had people say that we care too much about our looks. But in all honesty, pageant girls are some of the smartest girls I know. At first this bothered me, and I let the negative thoughts take over me. But I soon realized that I am me and I must embrace it, no one can change that! I decided to prove them wrong, and simply tell them “Watch me be successful.” With a rigorous AP course load and participation in many extracurricular activities, I am able to maintain above a 4.0 GPA, and am confident I will get into the college of my dreams. Pageantry has allowed me to prove to myself, those who have doubted me, those who have supported me, and those who are on the edge about competing in pageants, that it truly allows a person to grow mentally, physically, and intellectually.

After this realization is when I realized to continue in competing, so I could spread the message of the importance of mental health and confidence. I want to spread the key message of inner confidence. I hope to raise awareness of embracing your flaws and differences. Being an American Indian I want to be a voice for everyone, by encouraging them to follow their dreams, no matter what background they come from. And this is when I realized competing in the Miss Universe Organization, would be the best fit for me, as it would open me to a world full of opportunities that would give me a voice, platform, and enhance me as a person!

Today, I look back on my experience when I competed for the first time for the title of Miss Virginia Teen USA. Though I may have not taken the crown home last year, I have learned more about myself and have grown into a more confident person each and every day that has passed by. I’m a very a determined person and when I have a goal in mind I do whatever it takes to achieve that! I believe that I am now confident and profound in my leadership qualities, that I could take on a crowd. I am proud of who I've become and confident in my own skin. And therefore, I have decided to not give up. This year I come in more confident than ever, and plan to do exactly what I did three years ago, put forth the best version of myself.

Along with instilling confidence within the current and future generations, I want to expand my story and message about drug and alcohol prevention. A girl in my school, Alexia Springer, went to a party one night, got very drunk and didn’t even know that she overdosed on drugs, and unfortunately, she died the next morning. She was a beautiful and talented girl who made one mistake that cost her entire life. I didn't know her personally, but her death affected my entire school, my friends, her family, and it indirectly affected me as well. I want to tell people that it’s not okay! People may think they are invincible and it won't happen to them, but it very much could!

This experience inspired me to bring about my Platform Happy Choices. I would talk to young kids and tell them to channel their time and interests into reaching their goals, good ones. I would tell them to stay away from drugs and alcohol, because it’s never the solution. Your true friends are going to like you for who you are, and not what you do. I am a big believer in finding one’s natural high. Why not channel all your energy into a hobby where you can find that adrenaline rush in a natural way? In all, embrace your flaws and differences, be the best version of you, and most importantly leave a little sparkle wherever you go!

“Work hard. Dream big.”

Himanvi Panidepu