A lot can change in a year, and looking back now Billie-Jo Cresswell can see just how far she has come.
It began with the 2019 Maitland Showgirl quest. The 20-year-old gained so much empowerment from the experience that she has jumped at the chance to take part in this year's competition.
A year ago she was incredibly shy.
She avoided chatting to people she didn't know and the thought of answering the phone at work made her very uncomfortable.
Now she's bubbly, excels at customer interaction and isn't daunted at the thought of public speaking.
She has thrived in her role at Farmers Warehouse, in Rutherford, and is working towards a number of goals.
"Before I wasn't able to stand in front of anyone and talk, I had a stutter and I couldn't hold a conversation with anyone," she said.
"At work talking to people was really hard. Once I finished showgirl I realised I could do it and now I'm really good at engaging the customers and I can talk on the phone. It gave me the confidence boost I needed."
The sudden death of a best friend, who took their own life late last year, shook her to the core.
That loss, combined with the toll of the drought on the farming community, has unveiled a new path she wants to pursue.
"He was such a bright and outgoing person, I didn't see it coming. He was happy and outgoing all the time and then just like that he was gone," she said.
"It has affected me mentally because I don't have all the time to be here, and there, and everywhere at once. You never know if you are going to lose them. When someone says they need me I would go because I didn't know what was going to happen.
"I see how bad the drought is. I've seen it in Maitland and I thought it was bad, but it's worse in Dungog. The change and impact that the weather is having on everyone is shocking. You see the strain it's having on people.
"People need to grow feed but they can't grow anything. Hay right now is so hard to get onto."
Ms Cresswell wants to raise awareness about depression and help find better ways for people who are struggling to connect with help.
"There is depression in everyone at some stage, whether or not they see it. Deep down a lot of people are struggling and they won't tell you," she said.
"Yes there are groups they can talk to but not many people actually want to talk to them. It's a struggle to get someone to open up, but once they do you can step in and help them."
Ms Cresswell dived back into horse riding in June and is hoping to train her thoroughbred Shimmy to compete in the dressage ring.
"I've done things I never thought I would get the chance to do. I went to my first B&S Ball in August - I always wanted to do that," she said.
"I bought a horse in June and have been working extremely hard with him over the past few months. It's been a real journey because I haven't ridden in so long but now I've got a horse I don't want to leave him.
"I'm proud of myself for where I am today. You live for yourself and everyone around you, and you realise that you can't take what you have for granted. You have to treasure it and hold onto it."
Ms Cresswell said the 2020 showgirl quest was a chance for more self-development.
"I want to make it further in life than I ever thought I was going to," she said.
"I graduated high school in 2017 and I never thought I was ever going to be this far in life. Now I'm kicking goals and I'm seeing how far I've come. It's been a blessing to have the people that I have in my life, because they've helped me through a lot. I can't thank them enough."
Ms Cresswell said the supportive environment within the showgirl arena had helped her to shine.
"The fact that you speak in front of complete strangers, and yet they make you feel welcome, really helped me to build my confidence. It's something I feel a lot of women need to do - it's an awesome learning curve. You learn a lot more doing showgirl than just being a girl in the country," she said.
"I think people think it's outdated because they've never actually tried it to see what it's all about. It's not a competition - it's fun and you get to learn about other people and what they do. Everyone is different, noone is the same and that is what makes Australia and the world special.
"Some think it's all about getting pretty and dressing up, but it's not.
"I'm hoping for another confidence booster and to improve on my public speaking last year. I want to feel a lot more comfortable this time.
"I'm excited to meet the other girls as well."