A Voice For The Voiceless
It was a night or two after the New Year in January when a series of events brought me to the Miss BC Pageant website. I had never heard of it before but the word “pageant” conjured up preconceived notions and imagery of what a pageant is, admittedly based off ads for kid pageants that periodically pop up and the only pageant I’ve seen (and a movie at that), Miss Congeniality.
I was ready to quickly close the tab and move on but something, I don’t know what, compelled me to read through the site. There were two lines that stood out to me. The first, “𝘛𝘩𝘦 [...] 𝘵𝘪𝘵𝘭𝘦𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘷𝘰𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦” and the second, “𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘪𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘪𝘯 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦; 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘰𝘳 𝘸𝘦𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵”. I saw that this was a program to empower and support women in their self-development through workshops and seminars, culminating in an on-stage competition, and it was important to me that nothing about this pageant seemed to be about physical appearance. And then, there was this word that stood out to me: 𝐯𝐨𝐢𝐜𝐞.
VOICE. Having a voice. Finding my voice. Using my voice again after retreating from being viciously persecuted for trying to use it in the first place. Being a voice for those who feel voiceless. This is what kept me fixated on this website.
I remember sitting at my dining table, the strangest feeling beginning to wash over me, and before the chronic over-thinker in me could think about it too much and talk myself out of it, I thought, “fuck it!” and applied to be a contestant. A moment of pure craziness. I started laughing, my husband looked up confused and asked what was so funny, and I couldn’t tell him. It was just too ludicrous that I, an introvert, a spoonie who struggles daily to just get through a day at home, and an “I-would-never-do-a-pageant” kind of person, would enter a pageant.
But I did.
Because after a brutal 2018, I was determined to make 2019 a year of e x p a n s i o n. Of bursting free from chains formed from both my own insecurities and from the opinions of others and finding my voice again. And so I was interviewed, I shared my story, and was accepted as a contestant into the competition that will be happening this summer. I am terrified. This is so far beyond my comfort zone that I can’t even see the boundaries of that comfort zone. But I am doing this for you, for me, for the INVISIBLE VOICES of our chronic illness community. I have spent the majority of the past 5 years inside the house dealing with my illness, and while my passion for advocacy and awareness in this realm of chronic illness has grown, there’s only so much you can do when you’re mostly housebound and essentially invisible. So I thought…well, perhaps this is an opportunity for me to put myself out there after being hidden away for many years, tackle the return of my social anxiety that’s come back from being housebound, and most importantly, use this as a platform to share my story, foster awareness in the wider community about these chronic / invisible illnesses, and maybe be a source of hope and encouragement for those who are sick like me.
While I know that it is impossible to make anyone who isn’t sick fully understand all the complex ways in which a chronic disease impacts every aspect of the person you are, your life, and the lives of those around you, that doesn’t mean it’s not important and not worth the effort to give a voice to those of us who live out this reality every single moment of every single day. To try to create awareness that these conditions exist in the hopes that slowly change happens to make the world more accessible and people more conscious, understanding, and compassionate. 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐚 𝐯𝐨𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐘𝐎𝐔.