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Ok, not really, but I did try it once. Really.

Yes, indeed, I believe it was the summer before my senior year of high school, back in 1987. A flyer must have circulated the halls of Sentinel High, up in wonderful Missoula, Montana.

"The Junior Miss Montana Pageant" hosted, in Great Falls

I honestly don't remember that much about the event itself. I just remember driving the four hours with my Mom, who graciously agreed to take me, and staying at some Red Lion Inn (or DoubleTree or whatever chain) where we, contestants, had to learn a couple of musical numbers over the course of several days, meet girls from all over the state and it all culminated with a "pageant" of sorts. The finalists were called and some lucky girl was "crowned". Spoiler alert, no, I didn't win. In fact, I didn't even make the Top 10. It's not an event that I honestly spend much, if any, time, reminiscing about, but it popped into my thoughts the other day as I was discussing with a client, 

"What advice would you give to your 18-year old self?"

In 1984, one of my family's closest friends, Kathy, lost her husband, Ric, and 18-year old daughter, Kristi, in a tragic car accident. Ric and Kristi, were driving home from Wyoming, where Kristi had, as the current Miss Montana, for the Miss USA pageant, performed in an event. Unfortunately, Ric was known for going to bed early, and on this night, tragically fell asleep at the whee just 35 miles from home. Neither he, nor Kristi, were wearing seat-belts (not yet a law back then) and both of them perished when car ran off the road and over-turned.

I had always looked up to Kristi who was four years my senior. She was the beautiful, funny, silly girl, who had Catherine Zeta-Jones looks but not a clue that she was truly stunning. She was the girl who all the boys had a crush on and all the girls wanted to be-friend. I remember her summer job of working at McDonald's, where we used to go visit her and get free french fries (which was a big deal)! She was the cool older friend who would rather take the "little" 8th graders to see "Chevy Chase's Vacation", than spend the evening with one of her several suitors who were always lurking around. 

So, when the Jr. Miss pageant came to my attention four years later, it wasn't that I thought, "Wow, this has been my life long dream", but I did think it would be a wonderful way to honor Kristi, and I guess, even force me out of my basketball shoes and volleyball kneepads for a few days, learn a few dance steps and try something else on for size.

There's a beautiful podcast I'm in love with right now, hosted by Jonathan Fields, called The GoodLife Project. He was riffing on this subject as well the other day... "Advice to your 18-year old self."

I personally think it's wonderful advice not only for an 18-year old, but really for any age.

He suggests you "run multiple experiments". The goal of any of these experiments isn't to succeed at any ONE thing, the goal is to answer three questions:

1) Who am I?

2) What do I care about?

3) What am I good at or capable of getting good at?

You will find that by "playing" and by running these "so-called" experiments in your life, you will be testing the waters. And it is through these tests, you will find your strengths, you will discover what you TRULY value, (which may be in opposition to things those around you are telling you, btw) and opportunities will come from this, which will align with your true self and will put you at peace and.... drumroll, please... may even have side-effects such as HAPPINESS. Ahh...

So, you then may ask... Kirsten, what does you entering a beauty pageant in your 18th year have anything to do with what you are doing now or happiness for that matter?

The answer is simple. I was experimenting. Without even knowing it (no foresight or intention here) I was just merely naively "trying it on." And even though, nothing technically came of it, really (ok, maybe a little poise and presentation skills?). I was just thankful to be able to honor Kristi's spirit and play.

A lot of clients in their late 30's (and beyond) tell me, "At some point, I stopped listening to myself and asking what it is I want. I stopped probing to find out what I truly care about. I even stopped wondering what I am good at or could be good at three or even five years from now." We get so stuck on our story of who we are right now, that we stop seeing who we could really be... like we used to do when we were 18.

So how would you answer these questions? When is the last time you asked yourself who am I?

If you're looking for help on answering these questions, I've got a free tool which helps bring clarity to your vision....