Miss America.

Mid January. Broken. Unchanging. Stubborn as ever. Searching.

These words and more were descriptive of me on that day where I found myself in her office, trembling and slightly uneasy. The broken pieces of my heart were starting to come together again, as they always do in this disastrous cycle that’s been my life. The broken pieces were coming together, I was feeling less emotional than I had previously felt, and apathy was starting to set in again.

Yep. It was the beginning of a new semester. And after the previous semester and all the semesters before that, I knew I needed help. I knew I needed to talk to someone, even if I had to pay someone to listen. Luckily, for me, this wasn’t the case.

So I showed up. And she listened. She gave me the opportunity to lay out all these pieces of myself that had been bottled up, accumulating to create something more serious than it should have been.

I told her of heartbreaks. One old, one fresh. I told her of the people whose shadow I walked in. I talked about weight. I talked about school. I talked about ongoing failures.

At one point in the conversation, she leaned forward and said, “You are a beautiful, beautiful girl.”

Balm to my soul. Every single girl on the planet should hear this.

And she told me how she wanted to be Miss America. She told me how she’d watch the Miss America pageant and want to look like them. Unfortunately, she was short.

But her dad would tell her that she was his Miss America.

She explained that you may not be able to be the Miss America…but you’re always somebody’s Miss America. Every person we walk by matters to someone.

Fast-forward a couple months…and I’m walking the halls at school, feeling invisible. Being part of a crazy bunch of work friends who understand you makes you feel special. But those moments when you’re on your own? When no one knows who you are? Those moments are the bane of my existence.

But then… I step out into the sunshine and there’s my dad. He smiles at me and hands me a coke.

Miss America status.

And then he drives the long way to Grandma’s to pick up Mom. We drive past the old middle school. Past the old pond.

 We park and I step through the gate to visit with her for a minute. She’s frail but yet oh-so familiar. She smiles at me in surprise, “You got your hair cut!” I smile, “Yes.” She stares at me for a minute, “It’s very…modern. You’re too pretty for that.” I laugh, “I’ll probably grow it out soon anyway.” We continue to chat and before I leave, she pats my back and says to my mom, “I remember holding her as a baby.” My mom smiles that radiant smile of hers that lights up her face, “I know.” Grandma states as she pats my back, “This is my baby.”

Miss America status.

And then I spend my evening driving and talking with my sister. And chatting and laughing with my bestie.

Miss America status.

I’m not a beauty queen. I’m not a size 4. (Clearly.) I’m not an A student. I can’t play the violin to save my life. I lose my temper and I obsess over frivolous things. I am the biggest wreck of a daydreamer you’ve ever seen in your life.

But I am loved. And I have purpose. No matter what anybody else thinks of me.

Through it all. No matter where you’ve been. No matter what you look like. No matter the trouble you’ve gotten yourself into.

You’re somebody’s Miss America.