“You have to stay open to opportunity. Because stuff that you think isn't for you might turn out to be the greatest thing you've ever done.”
In 2007 at the age of 21, Caroline Pemberton was crowned Miss Australia.
And yes, she still has the tiara.
I first met Caroline in November 2017 and, I think, like most people, assumed that she had grown up being involved in dancing, modelling and pageantry.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
A self-proclaimed “goofy tomboy girl with messy hair”, Caroline grew up with two older, outdoorsy brothers and spent her childhood chasing them around, wanting to be one of the boys and trying to keep up.
At 19, she accompanied her older brother Rex to Nepal and was part of his base camp support team as he attempted to become the youngest Australian to climb Mt Everest.
The trip to Nepal changed the trajectory of Caroline’s life.
She came home on a mission to raise funds to improve the quality of life for the people of Nepal and started by selling chocolates.
But little did she know the profound impact of a call from her modelling agent would have on her life:
“I think defining moments happen and you don't even realise they're happening until many years down the track and you look back and go my gosh. What would my life have been like if I hadn't chased my brother up the world's tallest mountain and tried to hang out with him? And what would have happened if I'd never said yes to that casting and gone to a beauty pageant of all things?
These days, Caroline has launched the brand Miss Adventure is on a mission to empower young girls to realise how strong and brave they are, and what their bodies are capable of doing, before the storm of adolescence kicks in (and the pressure on what you look like, more than what you can do, intensifies).
In this fun conversation, we discuss:
* life as a child, chasing around her two older brothers,
* how she manages her fear, especially of heights,
* why self-talk is the secret to success in anything you do,
* how she found herself in Nepal at Everest Base Camp at 19 supporting her brother,
* why her guilt around being a ‘bad model’, and the potential to have an impact via charity work, led her to say yes to an opportunity to compete for the Miss Australia title (and the shame and embarrassment she felt about it at the time),
* why it’s important to keep an open mind (hint: opportunities doesn’t always come in the form in which you think you should, or on the timing that suits you),
* what life is really like as a “beauty queen” and the surprisingly opportunities it has presented to her,
* her struggle with the Imposter Complex, in both her time as Miss Australia and now wearing the tag of “adventurer”,
* why adventure is really just a state of mind (I love her definition of what constitutes an “adventure”)
* the important lesson she wants to share with young girls today.
Notes and resources: