When I started Loveleigh at 19, my biggest goal was to make sure it would evolve with me as a person, I must've intuitively known my journey would have me finding new versions of myself constantly.  This past year has taught me many things. From the outside looking in, it looks like I live a life full of glamour and happiness, because that is what I choose to show. I always strive to leave people better than I found them, but sometimes that means losing yourself in the midst of trying to fix others. As I prepared for Miss USA, I tried denying the fact that I carry a lot of baggage. I tried rushing into therapy weeks before to heal myself & part of me thought it would make me feel more deserving after having run from all of it so long. While I am so content with that goal of mine coming to a close, it is because of my choice to embrace my true self publicly that I have no regret. As much as I hate to say that my heart wasn’t completely full in a journey that meant so much to me, I have realized it isn’t the destination that gave me my purpose, it has been a series of chasing things not meant for me that has brought me to a better understanding of who I am meant to be. 

I really have stepped into a more vulnerable approach in everything I do, it means more to me to be relatable and understand others from a place of experience than it does to maintain a picture perfect image that does not even serve who I am. People always want to talk about the beautiful parts of their life, but they never want to talk about the things that happen that make you want to give up on the crazy dreams in your heart. The only way to achieve greatness is to fail & learn, then get up and try again. As low as it can feel to experience true loss and defeat, it enhances the meaning of any win to come in the future. If I could look into the eyes of 14 year old me and tell her she didn’t place at Miss USA, she would be beyond broken. If she was told what she went through to get to opportunity though, she would be so proud. I used to only find contentment in my wins, but I have realized the fuel to my fire is loss, it ignites my desire to do better every single time.

The thing is, you can’t lose if you do everything with a pure heart and true passion. You are going to make so many mistakes in life, so many things you regret, but those are what bring you to your next level, the things that better you so you have more to offer the world. Wisdom is something that comes through the trials of life & in my opinion, it is that wisdom that you continually build on that transforms into the power you have to make a difference. 

For a brief moment, I was embarrassed to have gone unplaced knowing the hundreds of people in my state were excited to see how I did on behalf of them. I went to the bathroom and just sat in the corner in my gown looking at the ground. I immediately started getting messages saying “I’m sorry” and “I love you”, the people that meant the most to me immediately were the ones that were making me the most mad. It wasn’t because of them that I felt this way. I had to make the choice to switch the narrative, this is especially important when you get to a certain level. Everything I do, I do it with my family in mind & my closest friends. I never operate from a place of trying to prove the enemy wrong, but instead prove those that believe in me right. So to have briefly felt like I had let them down had me fighting with the demons created from the standards I have set for myself to succeed for the ones I love most.

Then I was reassured that all of these people that were messaging me were still there. Trauma has made me believe people are temporary, but the people I have cultivated through this time period have shown they are here for me, not just who I could be, which is beautiful. I will always and forever be Mackenzie, which is the biggest blessing of all. Something that stuck with me that I saw prior to competing sifting through affirmations was the quote “this is your opportunity to find out if you really are who you say you are.” I have never been able to give myself gratification, I think it is both my best & worst attribute, because with that comes true humbleness but never fulfillment. I am proud to have represented my state as no one other than who I really am, this is only her at 21, but the best version to exist as of now was presented at an event that meant a lot to her only because of the love I really do have for all people, especially those in the state of Wyoming.

If you are someone chasing a dream or success in general, know that there will be things that happen out of your control. Sometimes it will not make sense but you cannot be discouraged because any setback is a setup for something greater & even if it doesn’t make sense now, someday it will & you will look back on the moments that made you question your vision and give yourself grace. The phrase everything happens for a reason is over-said, but it stands true, time & time again. There isn't inspiration in the highlights on social media, which is why I choose to highlight the darkness, because I care more about helping others than I do about how people perceive me. Stars would never shine if the sun didn’t go down sometimes, there is beauty in everything if you choose to see it.

Just remember to operate from a true place of yourself, you will consistently evolve, but your core values will always stay the same, so always make the choice to embrace those. Authenticity is the key to all success, which is why this is the first piece I will be launching to kickstart loveleigh into a new year. <3

Things will always fall into place, that’s why it is okay to be a little unstable.


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  • Rachel Nolen: December 08, 2021
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    “any setback is a setup for something greater” – that’s so good!!

    I heard it once described as the journey up to your destination is more like rock climbing than a ladder. That’s exactly what you have articulated!

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