Mrs. Ohio America 2017
Welcome to the Buckeye State! I’m Elexis Ryan, Mrs. Ohio America 2017, and I’d love to share my road to the crown with you!
My crowning moment this spring was the culmination of a six-year journey full of surprises, life-changes, and new friends. I’ll never forget the moment I realized my dream was coming true and felt the crown being placed on my head. I had visualized standing on the stage as the new Mrs. Ohio America many times, but the reality was overwhelming! It’s one of the most cherished moments of my life.
I mean it from the bottom of my heart when I say that the decision to compete for the title of Mrs. Ohio America altered the course of my life—in the best way possible! There are two quotes that have been important to me during my years of competition, and they really help illustrate how the decision to compete brought me to this current stage of life.
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” - George Eliot
I stumbled upon the Mrs. America system in 2011 while surfing the internet. I had been married for three years, spent nearly 20 years working as a buyer in the fashion industry, and had come to the realization that I was 50 lbs overweight and coasting through life. I felt as if my sparkle was gone! I’ve loved pageantry since I was a little girl, so I was excited to learn about a pageant system that celebrated married women and family life. I decided then and there that I wanted to compete, and that I wanted to be Mrs. Ohio. But I didn’t feel ready physically. So I joined a gym, hired a personal trainer, and worked towards my goal of getting back into shape.
I finally felt that I’d reached my fitness goals and signed up to compete in the 2014 Mrs. Ohio America pageant. I didn’t know what to expect over the three-day pageant weekend. I just knew that being able to confidently walk on stage in a swimsuit and high heels was going be a personal victory! The weekend ended up exceeding my expectations in every way possible. The other state finalists were amazing women, and we had so much fun enjoying each other’s company. We bonded quickly through this shared experience, and I made many life-long friends that weekend. I didn’t place in the top four on pageant night, but that didn’t matter to my husband, family, and friends. They knew how hard I’d worked just to be on the stage, and I could tell how proud they were. We celebrated that night!
After such a special weekend, I was hooked! The morning after the pageant I decided to go for it again. I felt in my heart that I was Mrs. Ohio America, and I was determined to reach that goal. I also knew that I was on the verge of significant personal growth. I was on my way to becoming “what I might have been”, and I wasn’t going to stop now!
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” - Unknown
Something that may be surprising is how much mental preparation goes into pageantry. Looking your best is important of course, but so is feeling your best and presenting the best version of yourself. I starting working with a life coach/pageant coach after competing in 2014. Let me tell you…that is one of the best investments I ever made in myself. Not only did my pageant performance improve, but my life did as well! Through the coaching process, I discovered that what I really love is making other women feel beautiful. I am so passionate about this that I decided to make a major career change, and I went to beauty school and earned an advanced esthetician license. The self-awareness and courage I gained through pageantry played a major role in this life change. I’m currently starting my own mobile spa business, and I couldn’t be more excited!
It took three more years of competition before I reached my goal of wearing the Mrs. Ohio America crown. I soaked in all of the feedback I could. I listened carefully to the judges’ comments, continued working with my pageant interview coach, and asked for advice from my director and the former Mrs. Ohio queens. I continued to hone what was working, and I adapted to constructive critiques while staying true to myself. Each year my placement during pageant competition improved. In 2015, I was Mrs. Congeniality and 4th Runner Up. In 2016, I won Best in Interview, Best in Evening Gown, and 1st Runner Up. And 2017 was the special year when I won the crown, along with Best in Interview and Best in Evening Gown. Even though it took four years of competition to reach my goal, I celebrated each and every year prior. When you continue to grow and stretch yourself, you are winning! I was thrilled to be improving my placement each year, and rather than feeling discouraged, I kept my eye on my goal and let my growth feed my fire.
I’m so thankful for the journey that has brought me to my year as Mrs. Ohio America 2017. Whatever you dream of—be it a crown, a career, family, love, or a special achievement—I wish you passion and fearlessness to chase your dreams and become who you were born to be. It may not happen overnight. It may take more courage and determination than you knew you possessed. But you may find that’s exactly what makes the journey so much sweeter!