This may sound unlikely now, but would you believe that Catriona Gray's journey to the Miss Universe crown wasn't smooth-sailing? With the coveted crown now on her head, she shares the lessons she had to learn the hard way as a reminder for everyone not to give up even when they feel like they've already lost.
Find yourself a strong support group.
It's not easy to find people who will stay with you every step of the way, but Catriona knew that she was in good company. “The important thing is to surround yourself with the right people—whether it’s your family, your community, or your peers—it makes the biggest difference to your mentality, [and] how you see the world around you," she points out. "With my team, I was constantly surrounded by good energy. They became family. Whenever I would feel overwhelmed, they were there to support me.”
Find a cause that's deeper than your own.
Becoming Miss Universe was a personal goal for Catriona, but she needed a bigger cause. “I sacrificed a lot of time, effort, and resources. Even financially, it was really difficult,” she explains. “As a model, I wasn’t allowed to have contracts, so I really had to stop working. There was that financial gamble... I was risking them to have this opportunity. But I felt that I was doing it for the country. I didn’t feel that it was for myself. And it obviously paid off.”
Determine what your goals are.
“As someone who loves to plan, I love to have goals in mind,” she says. Catriona keeps herself from being overwhelmed by breaking them down into organized, actionable goals. “It’s like building up to what I want to achieve."
Don't be too complacent.
“I constantly improve myself, learn new things, and expand my skills. In achieving one’s goals, this is really important, because the opportunity may not always be there,” Catriona advises. “Whether the opportunity is there or not, I make it a point to work on myself. That way, when the opportunity to achieve my goal or my dreams comes along, I’m ready.”
Try to be as hands-on as possible.
“I just want to be involved in everything,” Catriona admits. She would nitpick every detail in her pageantry and brainstorm with her team to figure out her best looks. “Being creative, I was involved even with the wardrobe pegs and decks, the look of the gown, the colors, the accessories, like I was really hands-on with everything.”
Remember Catriona's world-famous "lava walk"? It was through constant hard work and practice that she was able to pull it off on the grandest stage of them all. “I needed to look and feel like the best version of Catriona that I could imagine,” she explains. “When you see a girl who looks radiant, it’s not [because of] what she’s wearing. It’s how she feels. It was really important for me to be in that mindset. Yes, I’m at my most beautiful. Yes, I’m at my most confident.”
Identify the thing that makes you stand out.
As Miss Universe, Catriona acknowledges that the crown comes with many responsibilities. “As an individual, Miss Universe, and advocate, the digital landscape has been one of my biggest platforms in building a connection or relationship with my audience,” she tells us. “You have to be unique because there are so many voices now. How do you stand out? It has to be something; a message or service that you’re putting out there that is unique.”
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