The Jambar Column: From pageant to punching bags

By Hailey Rogenski

When I was little, I wasn’t like the other girls. I refused to paint my nails, style my hair and I never played with dolls. 

As I reached my preteens, I desired to be more like other girls so I started doing my hair and makeup all of the time. This was a phase that lasted a long time. Eventually, I found myself wanting to get my nails done and even started to like clothes shopping, which I had previously despised. 

During this phase, I picked up some other interests. At age 13, I enrolled in the National American Miss Pageant and became a state finalist. 

The preparation took months, but when the pageant finally came, I was full of excitement. The pageant took place in Columbus, Ohio during the summer and lasted three days. Each day, a different event took place. 

The first day, we were interviewed by judges, which was the easiest part. The judges asked simple questions about ourselves, such as “what are your favorite activities?” For this event, I was required to wear makeup and a professional skirt suit. 

The second day consisted of the introduction and catwalk, where we had to walk onstage, introduce and say something about ourselves and then leave the stage. This made me nervous because it was my first time performing in front of anyone onstage by myself. I was required to wear a dress and makeup for this event. 

Despite being nervous, I felt proud afterwards because I had stepped out of my comfort zone.

On the final day of the pageant, we performed a dance that was choreographed for us on stage and held a farewell party so that all of the other girls and I could say our goodbyes. 

I felt sad on the last day because I had made so many friends there, but I knew I wouldn’t be coming back the following year because I wanted to try something different. 

After finishing the pageant, I started looking into where I could get involved with acting. It was something I had always wanted to do. 

Eventually, I enrolled in acting and modeling classes at Pro-Model and Talent Management. I loved the classes so much that I ended up taking advanced acting classes after graduating my first set of classes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the acting competition because my parents didn’t have the money and at the time, I wasn’t old enough to work.

Although I never went any further than attending classes and never did a pageant again, they were the greatest things I have participated in. Both the acting classes and the pageant helped boost my self-esteem, improve my public speaking and expand my communication skills. 

When I was 15, my mom’s friend introduced me to boxing, something unlike anything I had ever tried before. He knew a boxing instructor and got me involved in classes. 

At first, I had no reason to do boxing, I just wanted to be involved in something. I was never one for school sports, so I wanted to try something unique. I never wanted to compete with it, instead I wanted to do it for self-defense purposes. 

The adrenaline and excitement I felt from hitting a punching bag was exhilarating. It allowed me to be myself and helped me evolve from who I was trying to be: everyone else but myself. 

All of these activities I was involved in helped shape who I am today. I love fighting sports, but also like doing my hair and wearing makeup. This is who I am and I’m proud of it.

So be yourself, even when you’re going through a phase because sometimes those phases help shape who we are, even if we don’t understand them.