Skipping a Generation

About Making Choices and Finding Your Way

Beauty pageants run in my family. It all started with my grandmother Elvira, who in 1953 became Miss Atlántico. A good twenty-seven years or so later, my mom, Laura, had the same chance. And then there was me.

Three women, three generations, three different choices and one question: have you ever considered entering a pageant?

For Miss G, my grandmother Elvi, the answer was an easy one. In her eyes, beauty pageants were a romantic affair and of course she was looking forward to participating!

Miss M, my mother, Laura, had a very different perception of the whole idea, as she had other plans for herself and was more into sports and studies.

And lastly there was me, Miss P. Friends and family had been suggesting I enter one for quite some time, but I wasn’t really sure whether or not it was for me. At first, I said yes. After a little while I regretted it, even though I was afraid and didn’t have enough courage to admit that. I eventually did enter one and…we all know how that ended.

Paulina's grandmother

Mother and Elvi, as I call my grandmother, have been fully supportive of my choice since day one. Elvi is the one person who gave me the best advice I could have ever followed: to be myself. When everyone else was telling me the opposite, she suggested that I show my natural beauty.  Running for Miss Colombia first, and Miss Universe right after, was also the perfect excuse for her to re-live her own past and go back in time, in a mix of nostalgia and affection.

Mother, on her end, always taught me the importance of what I have to offer from the inside—my personality. It’s precious advice that I still, and always will, follow.

Facing the same question, we took different paths. I don’t know if this can properly qualify as an example of skipping a generation, but that’s the way I like to think of it.

At a very similar age and in three very different moments of time, the early 50’s for Elvi, the late 70’s for mother, and 2014 for me, we were all given the same opportunity to participate in a beauty pageant and we all made our choice based on the lives we were living at the time, our inclinations and personalities.

For Elvi it was all about the experience, for me it was more about the challenge and opportunity, while for mom it was a question of priorities.  And none of us ever regretted the choice we made!

Paulina Vega
Photo credits: Andrés Espinosa

Success to me is never about being the first on the podium, rather it’s about being able to choose for yourself. A choice that could lead you to being an entrepreneur, a mother or a father, a carpenter, a shoemaker, a model, an astronaut, a teacher, a surgeon, a wife or a husband…anything you want.

And by the way, choosing is not an easy task at all. First of all, you could simply not have the option to choose: mom, Elvi, and I were all very lucky to be able to choose freely and on our own what we wanted to do with our future, but this notion isn’t true in all parts of the world. Additionally, when we have too many or too few options, choosing is just as difficult.

Whenever the choices are limited, we are simply not given the full spectrum of options and we end up choosing whatever is available.

And whenever the choices are too many, as the Paradox of Choices teaches us, we are just overwhelmed with options—the more the choices, the lesser the focus.

Other times we simply don’t know where to go and what to do next in our lives.

I personally believe that what empowers us is having passion and a purpose.

In my case, I really wanted to try something different. Competing in pageants gave me a chance to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. And as you should know by now, whenever a challenge arises, I am all for it: I raise my hand and get ready. Challenge nurtures me, it’s my daily fuel.

So, after the pageant, after traveling the world, living in New York City and experiencing exceptional aspects of life, I evolved as a woman and as a professional. As an additional result, I realized I needed to find my next step, the next challenge, a new territory that would spark my motivation. I realized that I wanted more, I wanted to express myself in a different way, I wanted to show a different side of myself and to support my community and the people who believe in me. And that’s when the idea of this blog came up.

I made my choice and next I made my plan. The rest is a mix of hard work and determination, and yes, a bit of luck never hurts!

But tell me: what is YOUR choice?  Who do you want to be?

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