Hello World! My name is Devin Grissom.
I’m a pretty normal 22 year old who likes cats, football, traveling the world, and oh yeah—competing in pageants.
That last point is the reason why you’re reading this post right now. I have somehow been convinced to document any and all preparations for my upcoming pageant.
That’s right -- you are invited to be up close and personal to all of the ups, downs, triumphs, and many junk food-craving moments that will fall upon me this year.
If you have never competed in a pageant then be warned -- a few posts in and you will probably start to think I am a few fries short of a Happy Meal. However, if you have competed in pageants then you clearly know I won’t be stepping within 10 miles of a McDonalds until about .05 seconds after some lucky lady gets a crown on her head this fall (more on all this diet business later).
I was born and raised in Memphis, TN by my precious, wonderful parents who have always supported me in everything I have wanted to do. I take that back – almost everything – but we aren’t quite to that point in my life yet (did I mention I am extremely all over the place?)
After 18 blissful years I decided to take my talents to Tuscaloosa (Lebron joke…anyone?) where I attended The University of Alabama and experienced 3 national championships in my 4 years, ROLL TIDE!
All of this was to my Dad’s absolute horror since he is a die-hard Tennessee Volunteer and we have - to put it nicely - dominated the 3rd Saturday in October for the past seven seasons. Roll Tide again.
It was in Tuscaloosa that I decided I wanted to get back into the pageant business. Unfortunately, I literally gained the Freshman 100 – you’re not getting a picture to document that time in my life, just take my word for it.
Needless to say I had to put my “walking on stage in a bikini” dreams on hold until I had my fill of messy fries (Tuscaloosa staple—seriously worth it). Finally my sophomore year I decided it was time to compete – Miss Alabama USA here I come!
It just so happens that God yet again had other plans for my life.
I was given the opportunity to star in a brand new dating series on CMT called “Sweet Home Alabama” and that meant I had some serious decisions to make…
Who am I kidding? They asked my 20 year-old self if I wanted to take a month out of my year to date 20 cute guys?!
If the suspense is killing you…I said yes...thus putting the Miss Alabama USA pageant temporarily on hold.
I had the absolute time of my life. I met some amazing guys who continue to be great friends. The guy that I picked – Adam – is now adorably married (not to me just to clarify) and expecting his first little kiddo! Go Adam, so happy for you
Okay back to pageants! After the whirlwind that was CMT passed through my life, it was finally time to strap on the Chinese Laundry heels and butt glue. It was my Senior year at Alabama and I was definitely at a crossroads in my life. I just KNEW that this was the year all my dreams would come true.
I even skipped Thanksgiving!!! No dressing or blackberry cobbler for Dev – now that’s commitment. When December 2012 finally arrived – I was more ready and confident than I had ever been.
Everything went exactly according to plan – except the result. I placed 1st runner up to Mary Margaret McCord – and although I was disappointed, I couldn’t be prouder.
I mean have you SEEN that stunning gal? She is a 20 out of 10 and placed 1st runner up at Miss USA 2013! (Does that technically make me an unofficial 2nd runner up at Miss USA? No?)
Not even one week after the Miss Alabama USA pageant, I graduated from The University of Alabama. Graduating college is a huge step in every young person’s life and just like most people who came before me and most who will come after me...
I had no clue what to do.
I spent a couple of months on the job hunt before I got the call from my one of my best friends about a job opportunity. She worked/still works/now I work for an IT company called Barracuda. That opens up the next chapter in my life: California!
Don’t let the tech stereotype fool you -- I work for the absolutely coolest company in the universe. I do a little bit of everything for Barracuda including marketing, video production, events, social media, trade show presenting and much more.
In my first year I have traveled to just about every city in the United States, plus Barcelona, Dubai, London and Paris… Did I mention I’m only 22?!
Even with all of the excitement of building my career in California, around April of 2013 I caught the bug again. All of you pageant girls know what “the bug” is and what it feels like. I absolutely had to compete so I decided to sign up for my home state pageant, Miss Tennessee USA.
I made the assumption that it would be just as easy to workout, eat right and make all of my preparations as it had been when I was in college and had absolutely nothing to do besides go to class and sleep.
I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE WRONG IN MY LIFE.
It was a struggle from the beginning. As I have mentioned before, I travel a ton with my job. I absolutely love it and would not trade my travel experiences for the world. However, when you are a major foodaholic like myself, constantly traveling to new places and trying new amazing restaurants is TORTURE when trying to prepare for a pageant.
Also, finding time for all of the other little details needed to prepare was difficult as well. So I did the best that I thought I could - worked out when I could, ordered a dress online and hoped for the best.
When October 2013 rolled around, I was in a completely different place mentally than I had been at Miss Alabama USA not even a year before. I knew that I had not done everything that I should have (and honestly COULD have) to be my very best.
It made me feel guilty that I had not pursued my dream with more determination and also much less confident than one should be going into pageant weekend.
Even so, the Miss USA system is incredible and Kim Greenwood’s team puts on a flawless weekend for all of the girls...so of course, I had a blast.
Meeting all of the awesome contestants is definitely always a highlight for me at any pageant. It truly makes you feel inspired to be around such a big group of accomplished and beautiful ladies (special shout out to Sarah Stonier and Lauren Ledford for being AWESOME!)
When finals night came around I really didn’t know what to expect. Interviews went great (I got to meet Herschel Walker!!) and I was feeling pretty good after prelim competition, but with pageants you really just never know. By the end of the night I was in the Top 5 and absolutely freaking out, I couldn’t believe it!
I ended up placing 3rd runner up and truly was content – I knew I did not deserve to win. Congrats again to ALL of the girls who competed but especially to Kristy Landers Niedenfuer for winning the crown. You are going to be a stunning representative of Tennessee at Miss USA 2014!
I walked away from the Miss Tennessee USA 2014 pageant with a determination that I would try one competing more time and give it my absolute all, no matter what the obstacles that may stand in my way. That’s where this blog comes in.
I am putting my preparations out there for the world to see. The main reason, honestly, is to keep me motivated and on track while I navigate through the struggles to following my dream of becoming Miss USA and also pursuing my career.
So what can you expect of me in these coming months?
Each month I'll set specific monthly goals that will help me move closer to attaining my overall goal of being 100% prepared to win my next pageant. To stay accountable, I'll also set weekly "sub-goals" that I will try to achieve as I go along.
After outlining my monthly and weekly goals for you, I'll document (with photos, videos, and text) and keep you informed of my ups and -- hopefully not so many -- downs for that week
So for all you readers out there I have a few favors...
If you think pageants are silly or a waste of time then I hope you get more than a few belly laughs out of my coming experiences- I won’t be holding anything back.
If you are in the process of preparing for a pageant as well then please feel free to reach out and ask me any questions you have or even to tell me something I am doing is completely crazy. There are no right or wrong answers when preparing to compete on any type of stage but I think it’s great to have a community to talk to about it—event if it’s just to say YOU AREN’T ALONE.
So I guess I will see you guys next month! Until then… I’m hitting the gym (ugh.)
This article was written by Devin Grissom
Devin Grissom got her start in pageants as Miss Tennessee’s Outstanding Teen 2007. Devin then competed at Miss Tennessee Teen USA 2009 placing 2nd runner up to eventual Miss Teen USA 2009, Stormi Henley. Recently, Devin placed 1st runner up at Miss Alabama USA 2013 and 3rd runner up at Miss Tennessee USA 2014. Devin is a graduate of the University of Alabama and currently resides and works in Northern California as a marketing specialist.