by Haley Geiger
I still remember my state competition last February, a day that doesn’t seem nearly as far away as it is. The rehearsals, interviews, competition, and awards ceremony all went by in a whirlwind of energy and excitement that’s sometimes to recollect. However, I particularly remember seeing our then Distinguished Young Women of Virginia and West Virginia watching us rehearse and thinking “This time next year, two of us will be in their places, watching girls line up to start an experience of their own.” At the time, I never would have thought I would wind up in that position, but now that I am it still seems surreal that my time is almost through. By the time I am writing this, I’m barely a week away from signing off permanently as the Distinguished Young Woman of West Virginia. As someone who is naturally resistant to change, you can probably guess how well I am taking this! Distinguished Young Woman has made 2017 the best year of my life hands down, and it’s hard to believe how quickly this year has flown by! Even though accepting the end of my year has been a struggle, Distinguished Young Women has made this year the best one of my life, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Needless to say, my year didn’t go the way I thought it would at all, but not in a bad way! Year Distinguished Young Woman was the spark that lit my year on fire, marking 2017 as truly my year. Even among major memories like my 39th musical, graduation, my eighteenth birthday, and my first day of college, the best points of my year were accompanied with a silver medallion around my neck. Every memory with Distinguished Young Women, even some of the more interesting ones like my frantic race to catch my flight to Mobile and both of my shoes coming untied within the first thirty seconds of the National fitness routine, are all memories that outshine some of the more conventional points of 2017. The moment I performed my talent on the National stage, the closest I will likely ever be to my lifelong dream of being on Broadway, is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life. Funny how only 90 seconds could have such a deep and profound effect on me! 2017 has been a year of self-improvement and maturity, and has changed me and my outlook on life more than I ever dreamed it would, and I will forever be grateful for the lessons I have learned.
Still, I knew this day would come. Even from the moment I won, I couldn’t keep my mind off the girls who had just delivered their farewell speeches and stepped down from their titles one last time, and how that would eventually be me. Now, that is me, and my mind has been occupied for quite a while on how quickly this year has flown by. Obviously all good things come to an end, and even though my time as the Distinguished Young Woman of West Virginia is almost over, I know this isn’t truly the end. This program has given me skills and friendships that will last a lifetime, and I will always work to stay involved with our State program. As the saying goes, “When one door closes, another one opens,” and I know that Distinguished Young Women will have opened more doors for me than I ever would have dreamed. It’s time for me to step down and find a new adventure, leaving this title for one of my five wonderful girls to pick up. To the next lucky girl to become the Distinguished Young Woman of West Virginia, enjoy this year and do as much as you can! 2017 was my year, and now 2018 is yours. Embrace every moment and don’t take a second of it for granted, because eventually it’ll be your own turn to pass the torch.