Blog by Landry E. Champlin, Miss Plano 2020
Jan. 27, 2020
For as long as I can remember, I have coped with a “speech block,” a type of stuttering that momentarily causes unexpected breaks in my speech. As a child, I faced tremendous amounts of anxiety and struggled to find the confidence to participate in the simplest of tasks. I never felt comfortable ordering at restaurants, making new friends or reading aloud. The fear of physically not being able to choose the words I wished to speak silenced me for much of my childhood.
When I was 6 years old, I began taking voice lessons not only as a coping mechanism for my speech disorder, but as a way to end my self-declared shyness. I took to singing and soon thereafter, I began performing at small venues in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Despite my newfound passion, I still hid behind my stutter, afraid to show anyone who I really was.
Well into my performance career, one of my closest friends introduced me to the Miss America (Texas) Organization, a program characterized by community service, scholarship, talent and Public Speaking. When I decided to compete to continue singing on stage, I had no idea my life would be forever changed.
On Sept. 27, 2015, I entered my first local competition for the title of Miss Plano’s Outstanding Teen. I was 14 years old and terrified, but hungry for a change in my lifestyle. That night, I met the judges in private interview, performed my talent, participated in lifestyle/fitness modeling, walked in my royal blue evening gown and answered an onstage question in front of hundreds of audience members. Throughout the competition, I stuttered. More importantly, I DID NOT WIN. I did, however, walk away with the realization that self-growth and confidence can only develop outside of one’s comfort zone. I decided to apply this way of thinking into my everyday life. Coincidentally, I began to understand the direct correlation confidence had on the way I spoke and presented myself.
Later that year, I went on to win a local title which lead me to the Miss Texas Outstanding Teen stage, where I was named “4th Runner-Up.” Throughout my year of service, I spoke at charity events, performed my talent countless times and met thousands of new faces. Most importantly, I became comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. I took advantage of every opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone by speaking and allowing myself to stutter.
In 2018, I won the title of “Miss Fort Worth,” becoming the youngest competitor in the Miss Texas Competition at the age of 17. I created my first school program, #LiveFearless, a platform in which I share my story of self-discovered confidence in the face of adversity. I speak about my experiences overcoming my fear of publicly stuttering in an effort to empower others to live a life of “fearlessness.” I provide students of all ages with tools to develop confidence despite the obstacles they face by encouraging them to take on new experiences. I am a firm believer that nothing worth having comes from a comfort zone. In June of 2019, I competed for “Miss Texas” where I received preliminary awards for my “Talent” and “On-Stage Interview.” I was also named “2nd Runner-Up” to the overall title.
This summer, I will return to the Miss Texas Stage as “Miss Plano,” the title I first competed for when I was 14. I continue to share my school program, #LiveFearless, and seek opportunities for growth. This “full circle” moment has also provided me with the chance to reflect on the skills I have acquired, confidence I have gained and the lives I have impacted by sharing my story. Even though I still stutter, I have grown to embrace this quality as a characteristic that makes me unique.
I share this story to inspire YOU to expand your horizons beyond what you deemed possible. Take risks. Make changes. BE BRAVE. Remember, nothing worth having comes from staying in your comfort zone.