As I enter my final few DAYS as Miss Massachusetts, 21 young women from around the Commonwealth are busy practicing their talents, hitting the gym, reading up on the news----and preparing to take my job. I've invited each contestant to be a "guest writer" on my blog and contribute a piece that demonstrates her unique personality, interests and experiences. Over the next several weeks, members of the Miss Massachusetts Class of 2017 will be featured in this series as we "Countdown to the Crown". This week's featured contestant is Miss Boston 2017, Gabriela Taveras!
Hello everyone, my name is Gabriela Taveras and I am Miss Boston 2017. Before I get started, I would like to thank Alissa for this opportunity to share a piece of me with all of you. I’m not much of a blogger, so I will do my best! As the pageant draws near, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on who I am and what I have to offer the world. I have been fortunate enough to have experienced enough in my 22 years to give me a concrete perspective on the world and my role in it. Whenever I would close my eyes, however, to try and hear what God was saying to me all I could hear is “light” and to be quite honest with you it was the most frustrating thing to hear. There are times when I have tried to convince myself that I was hearing other interesting adjectives like “spectacular” or “intelligent”, but all I kept getting was “light”... As I pondered what this could have meant, I was reminded of my friend Phetsile who I met on my trip to Swaziland. Fortunately, I was able to journal about my experience there and this is what I wrote about her:
“She literally has given up all hope! Nothing I said, nothing I did, NOTHING would/could convince her that she is still young and that she can do anything! She told me that in a perfect world she would be a singer, but that the last time she sang a solo was not too long after her mother died and she only sang in tribute to her mother. [...] She just gave up. She didn’t feel like anything could be done to help her advance in life and that she should just accept that this is how she is going to live the rest of her life. In an orphanage. Watching children.Teaching kids to color until she dies.”
This brought back memories of when I used to feel like her; there were days I felt like a dollar bill that had been crumbled up, stomped on, and spat on. Believe me, I have had my fair share of trauma and negative experiences and those hard times allowed me to understand where she was coming from, so I did the best job possible to encourage her and give her hope. I tried to prove to her that even though she felt like a dollar bill that had been devalued - she still retained her true value and that’s why she should keep fighting. Not too long after our conversation, she told me this:“‘Well… I was journaling about it (our talk) last night… I think talking to you - our conversation - it made a change in me… Now all of a sudden I don’t feel so bad… I don’t feel so alone… I feel like there is hope…’”She felt like there was hope. WOW.
This story was important to share with you because this was one of the most pivotal moments in my life. You can take Africa, missionary work, and every other aspect out of the equation, but the result would still be the same for me. These series of conversations made me pull myself off of the pre-med track and pushed me towards philanthropic causes. It lit a light in me that I didn’t even know existed - a passion and drive to help pull people out of their circumstances through every means necessary. This was the first time, I believe, that I served as a light for someone and ever since then, I have worked extremely hard to continue to be the light for people who feel as though they are stuck in the dark. I started competing in pageants because I began to understand that I was capable of doing more than simply influencing people. Serving others through the Miss America Organization these past six months have proven to me that I am capable of having an impact on people and changing the way they live their lives, view the world, and treat each other.
This is my unique gift. The gift of light. So, as Miss Boston, Miss Massachusetts, Miss America, or even just plain ‘ole Gabby, I hope that one day I can meet whoever chooses to read this and I can be the light in your dark day too because a bad/dark day does not mean you have a bad/dark life.
P.S. Yes, that’s a gold tire throne and I’m still convinced that it was meant for me.