1. She's real.
Maybe I was starstruck, but I have to admit it was a little surreal meeting the first Miss America of Indian descent. I'm not gonna lie, I was tongue-tied. And yes, I was acting like a jittery teenager. But getting the opportunity to meet an Indian American Miss America who can just as easily be your neighbor or another girl in your dance class, was truly an honor.
2. She's has great taste in music.
Of all the talent-segment-worthy Bollywood songs out there, she performed to my absolute favorite. Dhoom Tanna. Om Shanti Om. Deepika Padukone and Shah Rukh Khan. Enough said.
3. Don't give up.
I'll spare you the details on the "events" preceding my red carpet moment with Nina, but the eventual moral of this #3 lesson story, is to never give up. I almost did. And this blog post would never have existed. dun dun duuuuhhnn... If it wasn't for my someone special, who kept trying after I stopped, we would have missed out on this really unique opportunity. The irony of this has not escaped me.
4. Love who you are.
Despite all the advice Nina was given, about choosing another talent besides Bollywood fusion, she still wanted to win on her own terms. She ended up being the first contestant to perform a Bollywood routine on the Miss American stage, simply by being who she was. We are all unique in our own ways. If we forget to believe that, then we start to forget who we are. We might as well just be robots.
5. Role models can come in all shapes, sizes, colors and ages.
Relative to me, Miss America is young. I won't say by how much. But she's has had more life experiences and world exposure than many my age or older. Barrier-breakers are not defined by age, race or size. They are defined by their words, choices, and actions.
6. I'll have an incredible story to tell my daughter.
I grew up watching Miss America, and secretly wondered why there were never any Indian winners, sometimes even contestants. When Nina was crowned, I was probably a little too loud and proud to be Indian that day, but ehh who cares? (Time for me to refer back to #4.) Looking back, this experience will be an incredible story for me to tell my future daughter, about the opportunities that come to those who try.