Miss Unlikely: From Farm Girl to Miss America

Miss Unlikely: From Farm Girl to Miss America

Betty MaxwellBy Betty Maxwell5 Minutes

Excerpt from Miss Unlikely: From Farm Girl to Miss America by Betty Maxwell


Fame is a double-edged sword. Yes, it’s fun to have a lot of followers on social media, but I’ve also learned that with it comes tremendous negativity. I think it’s easy for people to forget that public figures and celebrities are real people with real feelings. Unkind words hurt me just like they hurt you. We’re all human beings—we all have souls and feelings, and we all long to be accepted.

It took me forever to understand that you can’t control what other people think or say about you; you can only control you. Instead of taking what people say to heart or engaging in the meanness, you have to let it go and focus on making yourself a better, more gracious, more forgiving person. As difficult as it is, you have to pray for those people. You can’t let them get to you. You have to grow a thick skin to get through this thing called life, especially in today’s world of social media.

I had days where I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. The travel, the exhaustion, the pressure, the lack of control, and the cyberbullying were overwhelming. I was hurting, and I wanted to go home.

At the same time though, I recognized I had signed up for this job.

The fact that this was an enormous privilege and opportunity that so many women would love to experience was anything but lost on me. It was a total paradox. And I could see both the good and the bad from my perspective.

I had the great privilege of serving communities and people I genuinely cared about. I performed for our beloved men and women in uniform on the USO tour. I laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a beautiful ceremony. I sang the national anthem for mothers of fallen, active-duty soldiers who MAO crowns as honorary Miss Americas. My performance for them may not have been my best because I cried throughout the entire thing. I was incredibly moved and honored to be a part of something so meaningful.

As Miss America, I felt like I was truly making a difference in the world. Any shortcomings that came with the job didn’t matter at the end of the day. The time I spent giving motivational speeches at high schools, inspiring young people to be themselves and follow their dreams, and putting smiles on the faces of Miracle Kids with that crown on my head was so gratifying that it made the toughest parts of being Miss America totally worth it.

My year as Miss America was without a doubt the toughest year of my life to date, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am honored and blessed to have been Miss America 2016. My time in that role helped me grow as a person and in ways I never could have anticipated.

Even my relationship with God grew stronger. I prayed constantly that year, mostly for strength and patience, and I learned to depend on him in ways I had never done before.

You will experience times in your life when things seem impossible—times when everything feels like it’s falling apart, and you don’t know up from down. But you can trust in God, knowing that everything you are doing right now is preparation for what’s next. All the little things you’ve done and continue to do are God’s way of preparing you for what he has planned for your future. The time I spent memorizing lines for The Wizard of Oz prepared me for the moment when I was given five minutes to memorize a sheet of talking points for my first major press conference. You may not be able to see it now, but God is always readying you. Trust that he is in control.

Used with Permission by BroadStreet Publishing

Order your copy of Miss Unlikely: From Farm Girl to Miss America by Betty Maxwell