4 Lessons from Miss Harlan County




For the past couple months or so, I have been graced with yet another opportunity: Representing Harlan High School in the 2014 Miss Harlan County Scholarship Pageant.

Being in a pageant has been an idea I had in my head since I watched Miss Congeniality. She doesn’t know it, but Sandra Bullock made it on my bucket list.

As a timid, young woman, I really wanted something new for myself. At this age, faced with a fresh start in life, I felt that I wanted more. I wanted fun experiences. I wanted to create new relationships. I wanted to do something completely unlike me, just to see out it would pan out. So I couldn’t say no, and Thank God, I didn’t.

The past few months I had some of the best experiences, and learned some very important things. They are:

1. Do not under estimate a pretty girl in heels. 

While sitting in the audience, pageants seem like nothing. Oh, what. They walk around and be pretty. Can’t be too hard…BUT YES IT IS. Seriously, do you know how hard it is to walk in a circle, with heels on, make your dress turn with you, look at the audience, smile, and pretend that it’s easy?! After weeks, I am STILL having trouble! It’s harder than it looks, and I apologize to anyone that I have ever under-estimated.

The girls you will see come Thursday night (or in any pageant) have dedicated numerous hours to perfect their performance. We have been through a lot of hard work, sweat, and tears. Countless of hours writing (and remembering!) our introductions. Perfecting our dance routine. Getting used to the pain of wearing heels for hours at a time. Frustration. Stress. Anxiety. We’ve been through it all, and it may not show, but we persevered!

2. Boys are difficult.

I guess this one should have been a no-brainer. Boys are pretty difficult in every aspect of life.

I think one of the biggest difficulties was finding an escort. I know I’m not the hottest girl on the block, and I can understand boys not running our of their way to chase me down and offer to be my escort (or maybe I can’t understand, haha), but my goodness, you’d think it would be the end of the world!

Teenage boys do not like spotlight. Okay, maybe some do, but evidently it is very rare. And as if it wasn’t hard enough to find an escort, but to get them to practice on time, to get them to come to events, to get them to wear this and wear that…geez!

I am truly thankful for my escort. He has treated me so well (even though he didn’t want to), and I appreciate him sticking through it all with me. He did not have to do this for me, and I am grateful—my last option would have been my brother, and THAT is something I did not want to even think about!

I also want to note that I am thankful for ALL the escorts. You guys have been such gentlemen, and have caused lots of laughter. Many memories will be cherished with your presence!

3. You can be humble and be proud, at the same time.

Something one of our visitors critiqued us on. She said, “Be humble. Yet, be proud of who you are.”

This is something that I think many teenagers my age struggle with. Being proud of ourselves, yet being humble at the same time. There needs to be an even balance between the two.

I, for one, hardly have much confidence (I need to work on this). Too often, I find myself in doubt, or disbelief. I’m not going to win that. I have no chance. I can’t do this. In reality, you shouldn’t do this to yourself. You should always be proud of who you are, and should continue to do whatever it takes to improve yourself if you are not.

You should also always be humble. Do things, not because you think you are the best, or because you want to be the best. Do them out of kindness and support. Be there for others, and for yourself as well. Be proud, and be humble.

4. It’s not about the crown.

If it were solely on who wins, there would be sabotage, unfairness, cruelty, and humility. Why would anyone want that?

Yes, every girl on the stage is hoping and praying for their name to be announced last. Every girl is dying to receive that crown, and the money that comes along with it. Every girl wants to mark that off her list of accomplishments, and every girl wants to win. But the pageant isn’t about that.

It’s about the experience. It’s about turning 16 contestants in 16 friends. It’s about making memories. It’s about doing something you’ve never done before. It’s about creating new relationships, and connecting with the community. It’s about escaping your comfort zone, and trying your best.

As cliche as it is, in the end, we are all winners whether we’ve won a new best friend, a new hobby, a new experience, a new outlook, etc. We will all gain something from this pageant, and that is what its about.

If anything, I have gained sixteen beautiful new friends that I have had the pleasure to spend my time with. I thought I would struggle connecting with everybody. I am usually the odd one out. I already knew half the girls of the pageant, but we never really talked, so why would they want to be friends with me now? Thankfully, that didn’t happen. I am now able to laugh, and joke around with each one of them. They have turned into sisters, and I am so grateful to have gotten to know them they way I do now!



If anyone wants to know, the Miss Harlan County Scholarship Pageant will kick off the Poke Sallet Festival on Thursday night (June 05, 2014) at 6:00 PM at Harlan County High School. Admission is $5.00 per person. Doors open at 5pm!

All of these girls have worked EXTREMELY hard, and would LOVE your support. I am extremely proud of them, and especially myself! Please come out and see us!

Thank you so much for reading. Come back for more!


Yin Chen


[ Dedication to Jade, Kaitlyn, Haley, McKenzie, Caitlyn, Emily, Tiffany, Lanie, Jourdan, Cochran, Caitlin, Taylor, Chyanna, Jocelyn, Brittany, Kendra, Taylor R., Tera, Abbey, Martha, Tasha, and the Harlan County Chamber of Commerce ]