Hello everyone! I hope your start to 2020 has been great, I thought I'd start the year off with a new Tea With Queens piece. This time, I'll be sharing Serene's story! I met Serene during the auditions for the Little Ms and Mr Tampines in 2018. I wasn't judging (in case you thought I was HAHA), I was observing the judgements and blogging, of course! I can't remember why I wasn't able to attend Serene's Pageant in 2018, but I'm sure it must've been a great one too!
A little more about Serene; she's no stranger to pageants! In fact, in her early 20s, she was a finalist for Miss Singapore Chinatown, Miss Singapore and Model of the Year! She's got a very admirable relationship with her son, Jacob (she told me they even gym together, how cool is that?!), she shared that as Jacob grew up, her roles as a mother changed - from devoting her time to nurturing him and spending time in his school as a parent volunteer, to letting him be an independent teenager while still making sure she instilled the right values into his life.
So having done pageants before, what made her decide to join another pageant? Simple really, it was a birthday present to herself! I love every aspect of this. It takes 'treat yourself' to a whole new level. I've never had a queen tell me that they've decided to join a pageant as a birthday present to themselves!
"Women by nature are versatile creatures and multi-taskers. However, sometimes we are so busy taking care of the different roles that we may neglect or even feel guilty of indulging some time for ourselves. Let's not forget to be kind to ourselves."
Of course, you'd be wondering why she waited until she was 50 to join the pageant. Serene mentioned that she wanted to inspire and empower all women, and being 50 doesn't mean that you need to slow things down. In fact, I know that Serene trains so much for obstacle races it's amazing!
Serene mentioned that her greatest support comes from her family, who have given her a peace of mind to join the pageant and to cross that off her bucket list! Any challenge that she faced along the way simply became motivation for her. I think that's something a lot of us can learn from. It's easy to give up, but it takes a great deal of strength to turn our obstacles into motivation.
"As a modern women of this era, we should not be confined to specific roles only. We must learn to evolve with the season and be adaptable"
Like I mentioned, Serene trains for obstacle races (local and overseas) and it takes up so much of her time (imagine: 6 times a week?!), so preparing for the local and international pageants really do take up even more of her time as well. She shared that she'd run off to sponsorship visitations with her hair tied up in a bun right after a training session at Sentosa beach! Now that is dedication and responsibility! I admire her time management, with her busy schedule, no one else should have an excuse to miss out/be late for any of their sponsorship visitations anymore!
"When I set my mind to pursue something, I would choose to embrace the whole process, with love, passion, and commitment."
Serene's favourite part of the pageant were the fundraising activities for their adopted charity and her platform - Days for Girls Singapore, which is an organisation that provides washable sanitary hygiene pads to young girls and women in poor countries, spreading love, humility and grace. A lot of her friends came forward to help as well and that definitely would have felt great! She also shared that meeting so many strong and amazing women during her pageant journeys was another great thing that she took away from her time in the pageants! She was touched by so many of their stories, it's not always glitter and glamour in life and women who step forward to share their experiences to help others are definitely one of the strongest and empowering to me.
Serene has decided to give herself 3 goals to achieve during her pageant journey:
1. Do well for Charity and her personal platform
2. Use her athletic profile to inspire women
3. Love, Humility and Grace through action.
I'm sure she definitely achieved all 3, and she has felt nothing but great love from her supporters who had not only cheered for her, but other deserving contestants during the finals! I feel that support from loved ones can really impact the mindset of someone, so it's amazing to see all these queens get such amazing support from their family and friends.
Apart from Classic Mrs Singapore Universe, she received the following subsidiary awards:
Charity Queen Award
Best in Talent award
You can tell she's quite an all-rounder! Having embraced every bit of her pageant journey, she shared with me that she wouldn't have done anything differently because she gave everything she possibly could.
So you must be wondering how her international pageants went, right? Her international pageant was in Bulgaria and it was for the Mrs Universe Classic 2019 title and she won 3rd Runner Up! Interestingly, she shared that it wasn't as nerve-wracking as she expected it to be, but also mentioned that it was thanks to the months of preparation for the local pageant and the mentorship from ERM as well.
Serene also mentioned that the pageant was very well received there, a lot of press coverage and media people were around them! I'm hoping that Singapore does receive pageants more openly too, of course it wouldn't happen over just a year or two, but hopefully everyone's perception of pageants becomes less stigmatised as well. Not everyone understands that there is hard work behind all that glamour on stage.
Serene shared that the judging criteria has definitely changed over the years, she shared that she didn't remember having to work this hard when she participated in Ms Singapore when she was in her 20's!
"A beauty pageant is no longer focus on physical attributes alone, It has evolved into more complex judging criteria. You need to have an outstanding portfolio to impress the judges too during the pre-judging rounds." It's amazing how pageantry has evolved. Beauty is what attracts, but it's the personality that makes people want to stick around. Hard work does show, especially when you put in all your time and effort and have genuine intent! I asked Serene about how pageantry has changed her life, and she shared that instead of 'changing' her life', she felt that it had enriched it, which I thought was really wise!
Of course, the pageant has opened doors for her and given her a platform to use for charity, it has allowed her to represent the country and also meet various people that have inspired her.
"Let's not forget, beauty pageant Queens are also wives, mothers, daughters and selfless individuals that contribute to society. I am proud of my achievement and will continue to wear the crown high"
Now, it's time for some words of advice from the queen herself:
"If you think you have what it takes to be a role model of a modern woman with an inspiring story to empower others, JUST GO FOR IT.
This is once in a lifetime experience and the experience is unique, we all could learn from it and strive to be a better version of ourselves and at the same time knowing that we do not have to be perfect. To get the most out of this journey, one must also come with an open heart and an open mind. Remember to stay grounded with your beliefs and values regardless. With the right attitude, perseverance and hard work, you may surprise yourself. You create your limits and only you could break them" I didn't even want to edit any part of that, so I had to quote the whole thing for you guys, I think it was very well said. Pageantry may not be for everyone, but if you are thinking about doing it, but are hesitant, 'Just go for it!'. I hope Serene's story has inspired you guys out there, not only to do something for yourself, but to constantly give yourselves healthy challenges that keep you going!
I hope you guys have a great 2020, it's going to be quite an exciting year!