What Being 'Queen' Really Means To Me

What Being 'Queen' Really Means To Me

And it's not just about the crown.
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First, if you're reading this, I would like you to know I'm not writing this article to get thousands of views, but I'm writing this article for me.

This past weekend was a whirlwind full of emotions from nervousness to excitement to happiness to relief all rolled into one. And if you haven't heard or really don't know me, it was because I was crowned the 2017 Michigan Sugar Queen, an honor that means the world to me.

Now many of you would assume the sole reason behind my interest in the title would be for the scholarship money or the crown, like many of the other women were; however, that is not the case for me. To be completely honest, the crown and the scholarship were only added bonuses because being crowned Queen means so much more to me, something that money cannot buy.

Leading up to the crowning, I was full of anticipation. This was something I had wanted for a long time, ever since I was a little girl sitting at the parades and watching the beautiful queens ride by on their floats and imitating their perfected Queen waves. If you asked eight-year-old-me, I would have said I wanted to be Queen for those very reasons, the crown, the wave, and the beautiful dresses. But nineteen-year-old-me has something different in mind.

Nineteen-year-old-me wanted to be Queen to represent the lifestyle I had grown up in and fallen in love with. Growing up a farm kid, isn't always easy, but it surely is one of the most rewarding lifestyles a person could have. The lessons learned are something you can't get anywhere else, I mean where else could you say you learned how to prepare the perfectly cleaned and prepped sugar beet for your local county fair?

But in all seriousness, the lessons learned are something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. From learning the ropes of what hard work truly means to learning the values of family time and the creation and maintenance of strong bonds between loved ones.

Therefore, being Queen is much more than the title and the crown, it's representing the Sugar Beet Industry that has shaped my life, as well as the countless other of farmer's lives who spend their lives laboring away in the fields so people worldwide have food on their tables everyday to eat. Being Queen has given me a voice to educate and advocate for the agricultural industry, which so desperately needs a voice as health-crazed individuals, without the scientifically backed research, try to shut us down. And finally, being queen has given me the opportunity to give back to a company that has already taught me so much.

I am beyond excited for the opportunities that are to come and the people I will meet along the way. All I ask, is that you don't judge me or jump to the conclusions by the crown I wear, but for the knowledge I share. I can promise you that I'm not just a pretty face.

Cover Image Credit: Kayla Ratajczak

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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The Experience Of Going Home After Your First Year Away

"There's no place like home."

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Home. My safe place. The place that calls to me when I am stressed or lonely or sad. The place that fills me with happiness and nostalgia. I will be home in less than a month. But this time, I know it will be different. There is no way it can be the same as it was because I have spent the last 10 months living on my own. No one telling me to clean my room or do my laundry. No one asking me to lower the television. No one asking me what time I will be home when I go out. Freedom. Independence. Autonomy. Self-government. Perfection in its truest form.

Don't get me wrong. My parents are great. They have always encouraged me to be independent, and they have always trusted me. However, they will comment on my room if my laundry bin is getting too full. They never miss an opportunity to tell me my showers are too long, and that the water bill is going up while the lake is emptying because of all the water I am wasting. I haven't had to hear any of this for almost a year, and, to be honest, it's been nice.

We leave home to go away to college, and even though we are 18, we really are not an adult. I didn't feel like one when I first left home, but I feel so much more like one now. For 10 months, I have had to do it all on my own. No one woke me up to go to class. No one reminded me to do my homework. No one did my laundry for me. Sure, my family is only a phone call or text message away, but I pride myself on standing on my own two feet. I got a job here on campus because I like making my own money. I love the feeling I get when I want to buy something, and I don't have to "ask permission." I love being able to buy my family gifts and know that it's coming from me — that I am paying for it with the money I earned. I lined up a couple of jobs for the summer while I was home from spring break, so I am ready. Adulting here I am.

I will always be respectful of my parents, and I know they will be respectful of me, but I am trying to prepare myself for the adjustment of being an adult living with her parents. I know they are trying to prepare themselves as well. They went through it. My father went into the Marine Corps right after high school, and when he returned from overseas three years later, it took some adjusting. My mother went away to school just like I did. She and her parents had to find common ground, so I am confident we will too. We may hit some rough patches or experience some turbulence, but nothing we can't handle. We always work through things. We always have.

All this aside, I am looking forward to spending time with my family, having home cooked meals, enjoying downtime with my dogs, sleeping in MY bed, and using my own private bathroom! With each passing year, I am sure it will get easier and easier until the day I move out permanently. It seems so far off in the distance, but my first year of college just went by in the blink of an eye, so am I sure the next few years will fly by as well. However, it's really nice knowing that no matter how old I am, I will always be able to go home — the comfortable, safe, welcoming place my parents have made for me and my sister. Just like Dorothy said, "There no place like home," and she went back after spending time in Oz.

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