The dictionary defines the word pride as a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
That one word is the defining word of how I felt by winning the title of Ms. Senior Georgia 2015 on August 16th. A journey that began a year ago when I attended my second pageant at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center. As I sat and watched these beautiful and articulate woman perform their talent, walk gracefully on the stage with their gorgeous gowns, and answer a question about their statement of principle, I knew that I had to give this a whirl.
Being a queen is every girls dream. When I was growing up I wanted to be homecoming or prom queen. I dreamed of being Miss America or Miss Universe. Heck, I would have even settled for Junior Miss.
After high school I dreamed of marrying a prince so I could wear the crown of princess. I would buy cheap crowns and dream of one day owning a real one that I had earned.
Self esteem plays a huge part in each of these scenarios. I knew I didn’t have the physical qualifications to even think about entering such competitions. I continued growing up and bi-passing all the thoughts of becoming a queen.
Fast forward to today. I am now considered a senior even though I don’t feel like one. Perhaps it is due to my attitude that I am NOT growing old but rather growing up. I hate the thought of growing old and I hate that word, but growing up has a better feel to it. I know I won’t stop growing up until I decide it is time.
After attending a couple Ms. Senior Georgia pageants I set my sights on yet another crown. The difference was that I was going to work to achieve this goal. I no longer felt inferior and I knew if I worked hard I could do this. All I wanted to do was place. What an experience to place in my very first, ever in my life pageant?
For a solid year I worked to perfect my talent. I knew I was going to sing. I decided on Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time”. Every day in my car on the way to work, I rehearsed. My car became my rehearsal studio. I am sure I received some strange stares, but I didn’t care. If I did this I wanted it perfect.
My statement of principle became my mantra “Youth is the New Senior”. Seniors are not getting older, they are getting younger. Forty is the new Sixty; fifty is the new 70 etc. It is evident in everyone you see. We are eating better, exercising more, staying social and more importantly we are keeping those brain cells active. I became insane about this idea that we can stay young for as long as we want to and I am determined to get seniors out of the “old” mentality.
I then had to choose a gown that would work with my body style. I am no pageant mini by any means, but I know how to wear clothes that are flattering to my body image.
Once all of this was set in place I was ready to go…or so I thought. As the weeks drew nearer I became more and more nervous. I was at the point where my eye was on the crown and I wanted to win. I wanted to win not only to bring pride to myself, but to my city. I love Snellville and I wanted to put a bright spot within it after all the negativity that has been politically generated. And why not me? I have so much to say to seniors and young people and the crown holds the clout to allow me a revolving door to speak and entertain all across this great state of ours.
The night of the pageant I gave everything I had done to that point to God. It was now in his hands whether I won or lost. I prayed as I participated in each segment of the pageant. Everything seemed to flow beautifully. I was in competition with 10 other beautiful and intelligent women. At this point placing would have been an honor.
And then came the results; fourth runner up, third runner up, second runner up….at this point I knew I was not going to make it…first runner up. And then as if out of a romantic movie I heard the words, “And our new Ms. Senior Georgia is Contestant #5 Kristine Johnson!”
The audience was so loud in their applause and screaming that I was not exactly sure what I heard. When it sunk in I could not stop crying. The Dozen roses were put on my arm, the baldric was draped on my shoulder and I bowed to the former queen as she placed that stunning crown on my head. For the first time in my life I was a QUEEN. In addition, I have a message that will be spread across this great state of ours as I meet with seniors and bring smiles to their faces.
It may have taken me 60 years to achieve a once in a lifetime goal, but I am proof that whatever you dream, it can and will come true with time, perseverance, and a little hard work thrown in. We can achieve anything we want in life if we truly want to achieve it. No matter how big or small. We as seniors are the Golden Children and our message is worth listening to. Never give up a dream.