Reflections of a Debutante:
14 Most Valuable Lessons Learned in 2014

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Happy New Year, 2015, New Year's Eve


My, my, my– 2014. You were kind of a doozy. This past year was one of the weirdest, most unique, most memorable twelve months of my life. I cried… a lot. I laughed even more. All titles, accolades, and accomplishments aside, this year prompted the most provocative form of self discovery. Instead of making a long list of 100+ resolutions I have no intention of keeping, I decided to recap the year with the most valuable lessons I learned in 2014.


1. Fill in your eyebrows.


Beauty, Anastasia, Eyebrow Pencil


My friends are funny. They pretty much never offer non-positive commentary on anything I do. Ever. Two of my best friends– independently, mind you– both told me within a week’s period of time that I should maybe try filling in my eyebrows to improve my appearance in non-professional pictures. I always assumed that since I have dark eyes and dark hair, my eyebrows were dark and bold, too– which they aren’t, hence why I can pull off blonde without bleaching my face.

Regardless, I tried a handful of different filler pencils and finally found my match in Anastasia. You can find my favorite brow pencil at Sephora here. I recommend going in and having them match your color if you’re unsure which shade is right for you. Thanks, S and Ashley Brooke, for giving me my favorite beauty tip of 2014.


2. Even MLB players can miss a really good first pitch.



When I was invited to throw the First Pitch at a Tampa Bay Rays game in July, I was ecstatic… until I heard about how really horrific first pitches make YouTube in the bad way. Case in Point: 50 Cent. I tried to get my ex-boyfriend and former baseball player to teach me to throw to avoid embarrassment on the internet, but he didn’t (how rude).


When game day came, I was introduced to Wil Meyers, who is basically the cutest MLB player you’ve ever seen. He may or may not have been wearing an arm cast, but that’s really not relevant. He told me to not worry and just throw as far as I could. Wil’s adorable little pep talk caused a surge of power in my triceps, which he obviously wasn’t expecting. Not only did it make it to Home Plate; Wil missed the ball entirely. He covered nicely, though. We basically became besties after that.

Miss Tampa Bay USA, Miss Florida USA, Tampa Bay Rays, Wil Meyers


3. Cherry blossoms are essentially nature’s confetti.


DC, Cherry Blossoms, Cherry Blossom Festival


Ever since I found out what the Cherry Blossom Festival was all about, I needed to see it first hand. I love DC, I love flowers, and I love festivals. Most importantly, I love my BFF, S, and she relocated to the greater DC area in September of last year. This was the perfect opportunity to visit her and see the festival simultaneously. To my surprise and elation, we ended up getting two of my favorite girlfriends– from the Miss Florida Organization, actually– together, as well, to see the gorgeous cherry blossoms together.


DC, Cherry Blossoms, Cherry Blossom Festival


Due to work schedules and their incompatibility, our girls weekend ended up landing on the final week of the festival, which was actually perfect timing considering this was one of the coldest winters DC had seen in decades, so we got to experience the blossoms in their prime blooming stage. Oh my word– how gorgeous of a sight it was. The cherry blossom petals literally float around like scented confetti throughout the air. S and I brought a blanket and just laid for hours staring at the pink bustling sky. Plus, they had cherry blossom-themed everything, including champagne cocktails and pop tarts from Ted’s Bulletin, and I just thought that was pretty darn awesome.


DC, Cherry Blossoms, Cherry Blossom Festival
DC, Cherry Blossoms, Cherry Blossom Festival


4. Victoria’s Secret is a state of mind.


I think the most over-asked question any pageant contestant will ever get is, “What’s your favorite phase of competition?” In the Miss America organization, I always said Talent, and in the Miss USA Organization, I said Interview, although it’s really always been Swimsuit. Now, I know that that’s kind of a vapid thing to say, but when else is it appropriate to put a ton of makeup on, spray tan the heck out of your skin, and put on ridiculously high heels to prance across the stage to catchy upbeat music? Answer: Never, unless you’re in a pageant.


Pageant Life, Miss Tampa Bay USA, Miss Florida USA, Miss Florida

I’ll never be as tall or gorgeous as Candace Swanepoel, and I will never be 100% confident on the beach surrounded by other stunning bikini bods. Call it insecurity, if you want; that’s just how it is. But put me on stage and add lights, cameras, and music? I turn into my own version of a Victoria’s Secret angel. I’m starting to learn that the lights, cameras, and music can be simulated in your mind, though. Imagine the mall or the boardwalk or the living room as your runway, and strut away. Being an “Angel” is more of a state of mind than anything else, and I have the Miss Florida USA system and their illegitimacy (love you, mean it) to thank for such an epiphany.


5. Douchebags do grow up… into horrible and old misanthropes.


That whole “be nice to me or you’ll end up on my blog” threat is about to become a reality. I typically refrain from posting about guys, strictly because they’re usually not important enough to post about. However, this was an integral year for my love life; I’m so focused on other aspects of my adult life that I’ve reached a level of genuine intolerance for BS. In the words of Jane Lynch in Role Models, “I’m BS proof.”


The fact of the matter is that doucebags do grow up. Unfortunately, they grow up into really horrible adults. You can’t teach empathy; it’s an intrinsic quality that decent people just have. Once a guy has revealed his sociopathic tendencies, delete his number, organize a sleepover with your friends, buy some champagne, and walk away. From experience, you can still want the best for them… just know that you’re well above what their best will ever be.

The Dreamer, Quote, Love

I found this quote, and I’m kind of obsessed with it: “Don’t fall in love. Rise in love.” If a guy independently organizes a get-together with all of his guy friends on your birthday and tells you, “You can come!,” he’s not worth your time. If you see a guy you’re involved with out with another girl who works in a dive bar and looks like she has {and probably does have} herpes, he’s not enhancing your life. These boys never change, and they’ll be the death of your dignity and self esteem if you don’t accept it. Trust me, I would know… because these aren’t hypothetical scenarios. You’re the worst, boys of Orlando.


6. “Stranger Danger” goes both ways. 


Many of the highlights from 2014 involve DC and S in some way. Although this particular lesson wasn’t spawned out of highlight, it’s still related. I flew to see her in September, and for whatever reason, all the flights out of MCO were delayed. My particular flight kept getting more and more delayed as time passed, so I took up shop at the airport bar. I didn’t bring my laptop for some God-forsaken reason, and I was reading a relatively curious, ie. conversation-starting, book, so I made myself a vulnerable target for a variety of creepers.


Ame & Lulu


When this chick sat down next to me, she just sounded nice– chatty, but nice. As time went on and drinks continued to flow, she kept giving me really nice compliments, like, “You’re really pretty when you smile,” and, “How stupid is your ex-boyfriend?” Especially when I’m tipsy, if you combine the words stupid + ex-boyfriend, I’m automatically your friend. Well, turns out she was hitting on me– quite strongly actually— and when I spurned her final advance, she instantly became belligerently upset, winked at me suspiciously and said, “See you around in Orlando,” and then she just stormed off. I immediately paid my tab, called S, and ran into the bathroom to safety. In conclusion, don’t talk to strangers of either gender in the airport.


7. Complacency is the biggest obstacle to success. 


I don’t like change. It’ll never come naturally to me. However, at this point in my career, I’m 100% willing to admit that complacency and comfort get you nowhere. Although it happens, it’s unlikely that your bosses or contractors are just going to pull you aside and say, “Hey! We’re going to pay you way more money… and here’s a free trip to Europe!” You have to ask for what you want. You have to set goals, achieve them, and create your reality. Honestly, I’m being hypocritical, since the majority of this year has involved waiting for opportunities. I’m through waiting; it’s time to start creating the opportunities.


Quote, Wisdom, Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau said, “Live the life you’ve imagined.” I accept your challenge, sir, and I raise you a, “She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans.”


8. When Mariah Carey plugs her ears, it’s not just her signature diva move.



I’ll be the first one to mock Mariah’s signature diva finger wave and ear plug combo. Even for such an incredible talent, she just looks ridiculous. Plus, “diva” shouldn’t ever have a positive connotation in my opinion. Regardless, after my National Anthem performance for Orlando City Soccer, I completely understand the functionality of the MC ear plug.  The ESPN’s Wide World of Sport’s sound system’s delay was so horrific that I literally couldn’t sing without high tech plugs wedged in my ears to block the delay.


Unfortunately, in a fun little twist, one of the ear plugs conveniently popped out as I walked onto the field to sing, so I admit that I copied MC with a diva finger plug for a hot minute there. It didn’t help, though, and I now can identify my worst performance ever as this very day. Luckily, I don’t take myself all that seriously; I mean, I’m not a professional singer, nor am I pursuing a professional career in singing, so there really was nothing to lose. Plus, I got to chat with some cutie pie soccer players, so score one for the amateur.

Orlando City Soccer, Miss Tampa Bay USA, Miss Florida USA, ESPN Wide World of Sports


9. Regular cards lose their luster once you’ve received a poem in iambic pentameter. 


Don’t be fooled; not all the guys from 2014 were total buttheads. On a few rare occasions, I had to give their gender some credit. Turns out, after you receive unexpected flowers with cards written in impressively clever iambic pentameter, standard pseudo-love notes, including pseudo-love texts and pseudo-love voicemails if those exist, lose their luster.


Valentine's Day, Iambic Pentameter, Poem


Example: Lines 7-8 of Happy Valentine’s Day: “You’ve got the looks and class of Princess Belle, and you’re hiding lots of brains in that thick candy shell.” My reasoning for adoring this excerpt is tri-fold: a) I was referred to as the best Disney princess b) He included a Tommy Boy reference and c) My above-average intellect and classiness were eluded to in a non-creepy way.


10. I want to be Detective Olivia Benson. 


Olivia Benson, Detective Benson, Law and Order SVU


I took Detective Stabler’s departure from Law and Order SVU pretty hard, and I swore I’d never watch the show again. Although I’m still bitter (love you so much, El), my interest in the post-Stabler seasons was peaked when I heard Detective Benson was kidnapped and held hostage by a psycho. I’ve been hooked since, and it’s strictly because Olivia Benson is a boss. Nobody else makes being a cop look that cool.


BFF, Law and Order SVU


Plus, Detective Amaro is starting to grow on me, and Olivia gets to be his partner sometimes. Things change at the precinct on a seemingly daily basis, so I never know whose partner is officially whose. Regardless, Olivia is now my professional idol, and I’m probably going to pursue a career in fighting sex crimes. Sorry, Synergy.


11. The Department of Defense really wants us to be healthy.


I somehow got hired to do a fun little project called the Healthy Base Initiative for the US Department of Defense through LinkedIn. Up until that point, I’d never really seen the lucrativeness of the professional network, but I’m so glad I joined and connected vehemently when I did. In a nutshell, I spent 3 days up against a green screen reciting messages promoting healthy tips, disturbing statistics, and calls to action to keep our military bases healthy. The best part? I was turned into a legitimate 3-D avatar with digital appearances all over the country.


Oh, and I also got to keep a really cozy Department of Defense prop sweatshirt. If nothing else, the time and energy were worth the esoteric sweatshirt alone.


Department of Defense, Healthy Base Initiative


Plus, there was a donkey on the shoot location. I named him Eeyore. Eeyore didn’t like hugs.


Healthy Base Initiative, Donkeys


12. Ain’t nobody got time for grudges. 


To be frank, I have a nasty switch. It isn’t flipped often, but when it is, nice PC, beauty queen Stephanie turns into a hormonal Cruella de Vil– minus the cruelty to animals. I’m starting to learn, though, that some people just don’t deserve your grief. This year has forced me to sincerely reevaluate my relationships, and since I’ve already shared a little insight into my philosophy on bad romantic relationships, here’s my two cents on friendships: If you find yourself having to try to be someone’s friend, it’s probably not worth your time. Focus on building up your true friendships- the ones you know you’ll still be sipping mimosas with when you’re 80, and let go of any negative energy that’s festering for whatever inane reason. Leave it, along with the rest of your emotional garbage, in 2014.


From experience, these lifelong friendships are very hard to find; don’t jeopardize losing a trustworthy confidant over something silly. I’ve had to swallow my pride a few times this year alone and admit that to myself– and to the friend I was holding a grudge against. The truth is that we all have tough stuff going on in our lives; although it’s a reason to shut people out, it’s never a justification.


On the polar opposite side of things, learn to completely ignore people who don’t value you. I was so blown away by this chick’s immaturity that I had to share as part of this “lesson.” I attended the Margarita Ball with a very good friend of mine, and he told me before we arrived that one of my “really good girlfriends” was going to be there. I was confused, since I knew none of my close friends had any such plans. Turns out it was this girl I knew through a mutual friend of ours– one I’d involuntarily hung out with once or twice, and although I didn’t consider her to be more than an acquaintance, I was flattered she referred to me in such a high regard. I made it a point to give her a hug and try to make small talk, but when I ran into her in the bathroom– away from our dates, mind you— she completely blew me off and started mocking me in front of her little clique. It was one of those literal “What the F?” moments.


Anyways, when I got back to my date, I told him I was bothered… because frankly, my cordial behavior hardly deserved mockery. He said that after I initially said hi to her, she had told her date, who then told my date, that she was, “Not my biggest fan anymore.” I was confused for multiple reasons: 1) How did I go from being the Samantha to her Carrie to the Cady Heron to her Regina George in a matter of minutes? 2) How could she possibly dislike me without external judgement from the 2 times we’ve hung out in the same vicinity together? and 3) Why did I care so much? This girl is obviously a 6-year-old at heart, and I babysit 6-year-olds; I’m not friends with them. I ended up having a blast with my date at what turned into a fancy adult prom, so at the end of the day, her nastiness failed to ruin my evening.


Margarita Ball, Margarita Ball 2014, Toys for Tots


So… if you look closely, you can see me keeled over on the floor in the reflection of one of the silver ornaments while my date ordered coffee and waited for the valet. Apparently, even with the Mean Girls poster child in attendance, I actually had a little too much fun at the ball.



My point is that the above story is a perfect example of someone who’s not worth your time. As soon as I got home, I called my best friend to vent about the situation, since it did ruffle my feathers a bit, and she kept asking me, “Why in the world does she matter?” Well, she doesn’t. Only your friends do. The end. `


13. Any email that starts with, “Hi, Diary of a Debutante, good day yes!” is spam.


If you’re a blogger, there’s a 99.89% chance you’ve received an email that starts with some variation of, “Good Day!” or, “Hi (Insert Blog Name)!” I’m always open to reading emails, and I do get excited when I’m contacted by large brands; however, any email that refers to you strictly by blog name, has obviously inserted your first and/or name via some sort of poorly-run email mail merge, or has broken English in the subject line is spam. Don’t bother responding, unless you want to mess with the sender, which I admit I’ve done on occasion. “Yes, hi, you pay $2k00, I write post.”



Oh, and never– under any circumstances— think that you’re being contacted by Nigerian royalty. That’s spam, too.


14. Everything will be okay– as long as there’s laughter.


2014 really was a roller coaster. Although it’s cliche, it’s the only metaphor I can think of to truly describe it. If there’s one main thing I learned this year, it’s that the only surefire remedy for tribulation in your life is laughter. Miranda from Sex and the City knows what I’m talking about:


Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw, Wisdom


… and Miranda was right. When something was really really funny (ie. Charlotte having an accident in Mexico), Carrie laughed. Hard— and for good reason.


I’ve learned that whether or not I’m just having an off day or hysterically crying with a bottle of Moscato open on my bathroom floor, laughter will come and laughter will heal. Call your girlfriend to reminisce about silly middle school inside jokes, pop on a season of The Office to get hilarious inspiration from my boss man crush Michael Scott, or search the People of Walmart database– just laugh. It gets better. Remember, “Even the darkest hour has only 60 minutes.”


What lessons did y’all learn this year? Anything worth sharing?

Now on to 2015! Cheers, lovebugs!

♥ Stephanie


15 thoughts on “Reflections of a Debutante:
14 Most Valuable Lessons Learned in 2014

  1. Kenzie Smith

    Those are all such awesome reflections and are all so true. So crazy about the gal in the airport hitting on you, I did chuckle a bit about that. Also, now I am curious about my eyebrows. I think they are dark and thick enough that they don't need coloring in but I am really not sure ha ha! From reading your blog you sound like such an amazing and fun person — any girl who isn't a fan is an idiot. Cheers to the New Year! XOXO

    1. [email protected] Post author

      You're so sweet, Kenzie 🙂 This made my day! And give a pencil a try– you can find some for under $2… see if you like the way it makes your eyes/face look! Hope you had the most amazing New Year's!

  2. BKCsquared

    I'm so sorry to hear about your stupid ex-boyfriend, but so happy that you were smart enough to kick him to the curb… Maybe the cutie MLB player will be next in line 🙂

    Also, congratulations on singing the national anthem! You sounded absolutely beautiful & you get major props for staying in tune while having to deal with the sound delay. Hope you have an amazing New Year's Eve!!

    xo, K


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