To the Pasadena Tournament of Roses

To the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, thank you.

I’m number 220 of the 800 girls who tried out to be on your 2015-2016 Royal Court, a finalist, but not a princess, not the queen. On October 5, 2015, my name wasn’t called at your announcement. My first real failure. As I explained in my interviews, I’m an achiever. I know what I excel in, I had never applied, ran, or competed for anything on my own and had unfavorable results, until I didn’t hear my name or number called on that October morning.

Growing up, I always knew that being on the Rose Court was an unrealistic dream. It was a given that I would try out, but I could never imagine myself being one of those 7 lucky girls until I made it to the final 250, then 75, and then, when I was notified that I was a finalist, top 25. The dream I never thought could ever be my reality was staring me in the face, and the closer it got, the more I wanted it and the more I thought I deserved it. Those around me told me every day for five weeks leading up to the announcement that I was the obvious choice, and as much as I wanted to stay humble, I started to believe it. The confidence served well; it helped me be my true self in each interview, but I got my hopes up, which is where I failed.

I assumed I would be a Rose Princess because people told me “it’s bound to happen.” But it wasn’t. I thought I knew my strengths and weaknesses, but seeing 7 of my peers smile with bouquets of roses that I wished I was holding was a pain I had never felt before, a pain that hurt me deeply even though I believed that if I didn’t get it I wouldn’t be upset. Not hearing my name was heartbreaking, but it’s given me something that being a Rose Princesses wouldn’t have. Perspective.

I realized that the reason I had never failed before was because I was afraid. I was an unknowing victim of a terrible mental block. If I didn’t excel in something already, I thought I  never could, and that made it difficult to try new things. If I didn’t win everything I ran for, I would disappoint myself and (more importantly) the people around me. I now know that isn’t true. But the truth is, I am limitless. I am a whole person with no boundaries. There is nothing I can’t succeed at if I try hard enough. There will be times when I lose again, but if opportunity knocks, I will always answer. I would much rather be a person who lives a life full of highs and lows than a person who says no because she thinks she won’t come out victorious. Now that I’ve failed, I’ve learned that it takes a lot more energy to be devastated about unfavorable outcomes than accept the results, reflect, and continue on. Life is full of experiences that prepare you for the next ones, which makes me more and more excited for what my future holds.

At first, I complained because rose bushes have thorns, but now I rejoiced because thorn bushes have roses. The next time I lose, I’ll know that no one ever really loses.  I’ve learned a lot about myself through that failure, and even though a part of me still wishes I was on the court, I wouldn’t change anything.

To the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, you didn’t give me the crown, but you gave me an experience I needed before I get thrown into the world without training wheels. Because of you, I am a better person who will lead an even better life.

Lizzie Bromley