Just Life: A Drop

“It’s a drop in the bucket”

This is a phrase that is used in my house more often than not. Whenever I’m worked up about an exam, a boy, a bad haircut, or being in a bikini on national television, my dad always reminds me that each of these moments is just a “drop in the bucket”. A perfect sentiment that each day is simply one drop, you are never adding more than that to what will eventually become a full bucket of ups and downs, and well…a full life that will have been shaped by each and every day that you’ve lived. Leave it to Jeff Witte to turn major meltdowns into really good teaching lessons.

Well today marks one of my favorite drops in my collective bucket, my graduation from college. 1285 days ago, I arrived on the UW-Madison campus sick to my stomach with nerves, and totally clueless what my college years would bring. Little did I know! If you’ve followed my journey you know it’s been a really wild ride.

I began this journey as a poli-sci major, thinking I would go off to law school and that my high school modeling days were simply a really fun and glamorous phase. I ate pulled pork sandwiches from the dining hall like they were going out of style and became OBSESSED with the limited edition Gyro slice from Ian’s. I met and reconnected with some of the most amazing people this world has ever seen. And I learned that nobody really has it figured out, but college is your place to explore and take advantage of any opportunity you can possibly find. Looking back my biggest life philosophy came from my college experience, take the chance, take the leap of faith, jump in. The worst thing that will come out of it is that you learn to build your wings or your net on the way down and I have built plenty the last several years. Sometime I flew and sometimes I fell, but either way I was ready.

Over the next two and a half years I learned many of my greatest lessons, and most of them had nothing to do with Pre-Constitution Law…

I learned to know when to ask for help. This day would never have happened if it wasn’t for the incredible team behind me every step of the way. My family never stopped believing I could “do it all”, even on the days when I thought for sure my head would explode. Whether it was a pep talk, a home cooked meal, a text reminder, or simply a word of encouragement, I always had someone to lean on.

I learned that the most important thing in life is honesty. I remember sitting on the couch, the day after I won Miss Wisconsin USA, only one week into the first semester of my second year of school, and not even knowing where to start. Well I started first with a block of cheese, yum, and then proceeded to email each of my professors and the Dean of Students office saying “this just happened, and I have no idea how I’m going to make this school thing work”. That week I waffled a million times between taking a break from school or just juggling. I wanted to experience all the opportunities being Miss Wisconsin USA would afford me but I wanted to get the most from my college experience. My greatest fear was in trying to accomplish both I would ultimately fail at both and end up disappointed. I remained honest throughout the school year about my stresses, successes, and crazy ass schedule and managed to not only stay in school full time while prepping for Miss USA, but do so while maintaining a respectable GPA and with an entire campus staff cheering me on after taking my final exams two weeks early to “do the thing”! The amount of support I received from the UW-Madison community while I was at Miss USA will forever be one of the highlights of my life. Madison is a big school and people accomplish great things every day there, but for one moment in time, I was the Badger of the moment and I am so proud and so honored to have had that opportunity. It was a ‘golden drop’ if you will or should I say ‘red drop’ in the bucket.

I learned that you can’t do it all. You might have to give up being a double major or making the dean’s list and readjust your goals. For me, graduating became the focus and the perfectionist in me needed to let go of the rest. Flexibility is the key to making any plan work for you. I was great at preaching to middle school students as Miss Wisconsin USA to set a large goal and then smaller goals to get there. Sometimes that means focusing your energy in different ways. Sometimes it means letting go of a lot of other things to make it happen. One thing I am not great at, is saying no. Throughout my college experience I learned that sometimes, simply for your mental sanity, you need to say no.

I learned where my priorities lie. Even if means sleeping on a couch or driving odd hours of the day, you have to make time for the people you love and the people who love you. I also learned that distance isn’t real, I mean it is real of course, but not by meaningful relationship standards. If you are in the same room or a thousand miles away you can still love big and still be present. You can still give support and you can still seek it, regardless of the space between you.

Most importantly, I learned that everyday is a chance to learn, to make mistakes, to take chances. Nothing in life is perfect, nothing in life works out exactly how you thought it would. But if you work hard and trust the process, anything is possible. Bringing back the old saying “The sky really is the limit” I wouldn’t trade these past three and a half years for anything. Thanks to college, “found myself”, or at least was able to work on who I want to be.

I am so happy to say that I am officially one B.A. woman…Bachelor of Arts in Communications that is. So excited to begin the next series of drops….

Dream Big,
Sky

Just Life: Two Years Later

Two years ago, a freshman in college launched a blog as a fun way to keep her friends and family up-to-date with all the new adventures.

What began as a way for me to share tidbits of information about my personal experiences learning and growing in the modeling industry, has since turned into a place for me to talk through (or rather write through) so many different aspects of the wonderful journey I have been on.

24 months ago, I had very little idea of what this blog would turn into. My main goal was to expand my modeling career to the best of my ability and share what I learned with other aspiring models.

I never imagined that my blog would become the place where I shared exciting news like landing a job working for Mac Duggal! A designer who’s work I fawned over for years and cried a little when I was able to wear one of his gowns at junior prom. A designer (and entire family of people) who would become some of my greatest supports and favorite people to be around. A designer who has invited me to not once, BUT TWICE, walk for him at New York Fashion Week. A designer who sparked a fire to push even further to make my dreams a reality, and who always made sure I was dressed my best when I was out there chasing after them.

I never dreamed that my blog would be the place where I would reflect on moments in my journey as Miss Wisconsin USA. A journey that lead me to so much personal growth. A journey that gave me the opportunity to spread my message of following your dreams with young people all over my state (a blog that allowed me to share my message with children all over the world). A journey that was filled with life lessons, laughs, tears and so many wonderful friendships. A journey that pushed me to be comfortable outside of my comfort-zone and to never take a moment for granted. A year that I will never forget with words that are forever written in stone, or at least on the internet.

I will never be able to put into words how grateful I am for the crazy life that I live each day. None of it would’ve been possible without a thought one day to start “blogging and logging“.

Here’s to two years of dreaming big and to many more years of making it happen,

Skylar

Just Life: Have Room

The past few months have been a whirlwind. I joined a Student Org, have been working a part-time communications position, traveling (more than ever), modeling, and continuing to be involved in “pageant-land” (in a much less bikini-on-live-TV kind of way). Oh, and I am taking 6 courses at UW-Madison! Whew!

I often get asked “how do you do it”? This question is a really multi-layered one, much of my energy comes from loving what I do, but I think the main motivation behind keeping myself moving is allowing myself to have room for the good, the bad, and every little thing in between.

Have room…

To fail. I am one of the biggest perfectionists you will meet, I always want to give 110% to everything I do and lately that “everything” has turned into the most magical yet overwhelming mix of things. My biggest successes in life have come from moments of “failure”, or missed opportunities.

Have room…

For weakness. With the world so full of blessings, it’s OK that your soul (or smile) doesn’t shine it’s brightest every single day. Take a break, cry, call your mom. Recent conversations with my Miss USA sisters have reminded me that everyone experiences moments of weakness or self-doubt, and each person experiences those feelings in different ways. Just because you have a moment of weakness does not mean that you are weak.

Have room…

For other people’s successes. THIS IS A BIG ONE, and probably the most important. I’m going to relate this to pageantry, however I feel the lesson is applicable always. When the crown is placed on another woman’s head, it can feel so easy to go into a negative place. Why wasn’t it me? Why was it her? I worked so hard, I deserve this. Change your narrative! Share in the excitement, feel honored to have had the chance to share in another woman’s success, and remember that everything happens for a reason. Jealousy is so ugly, and can cause for a heavy weight to be carried around. Have room for more successes than just your own.

Have room…

To enjoy your life. Put your phone down, grab your BFF and have a girls night! I have been making a habit of making sure I set aside one night every week to “just relax”. It involves me doing a bit of extra work every other day, but it is so worth it when you spend a night, stress free, at a comedy show with your best girl, or get to do sheet masks with your momma! Find time to make time to enjoy being present!

Your mental health is EVERYTHING! With everything going on lately, I have found that the one way I keep myself most “sane” is to allow myself ALL the emotions, even if they involve tears. Have room to feel overwhelmed, but above all have room to be happy!

Dream Big,

Skylar

Just Life: Instagram versus Reality

Sometimes, but very rarely, all aspects of my life collide in wonderful unison. After writing my last article, I was feeling extremely inspired to get back to what I love doing – using my voice in inspire young women. As Miss Wisconsin USA I was able to get into schools and talk about my program “Sky’s the Limit”, but since I gave up my title I have been striving to find a way to keep that motivation going. For a final project in one of my communications courses, we were asked to identify a place where we feel there is a “lack of media literacy” and implement (or imagine implementing) a program to bridge that gap.

Here is where the worlds tie together…

For my class project and, quite honestly, my new life project I have created a campaign called “Instagram versus Reality” – #IGVReality. Social media is so new in this world, but also so influential. There is no current education for young women about the pressures they may face on social media to feel “perfect”. Years ago, body image and confidence was shaken by the covers of magazines or a commercial on TV. Young women today face those pressures on top of the pressures each time they open their Instagram app. Social media makes it so difficult to tell what is reality.

I am not saying that when we post on Instagram it isn’t the reality of our lives. I never fabricate images on my Instagram to make it seem like something it is not. However, I will be the first to admit that my feed is filled with my best photos. Not the pictures of me in bed with a clay face mask typing this blog, but the photos of me smiling with my Miss USA sisters or the most recent dynamite photo from a recent shoot with the slew of talented folks I have the privilege of working with. These people get paid to be talented hair and make-up artists, stylist and amazing photographers who are trained in editing images. The pictures are all me, but they are the best possible edited and airbrushed version of me possible. And frankly to the little girls out there watching, that’s not fair. Angles and poses, lighting and filters all just social media tools used to perfect the imperfect. For once let’s embrace the imperfect!

My goal is to have people share photos and stories of their “Instagram versus Reality” and change the way young women feel when they use the app. It’s important to be able to embrace our imperfections, sometimes even laugh at them. Although the goal of this is to remove some of the pressures that young women feel, I think that each person who chooses to participate will experience a sense of lifted pressures!

There are two ways to be a part of the movement:

  1. Post 2 photos on Instagram. The first photo being the picture that you would share on Instagram and the second being the reality behind the photo. The great angle versus the not so great angle, the family picture that hangs on the wall versus the reality of what taking a family photo looks like.
  2. Post one photo on Instagram sharing the story behind it. This can be a funny story about the looks of judgement you received from the man sitting next to you on the plane as you took 25 selfies or the raw emotions behind a photo.

The most important thing is that you use the hashtag: #IGVReality and nominate as many friends as you wish. Also you will be helping my group actually implement a project which we all feel is worth standing behind.

Pick whatever photos you would like and get as deep (or not) as your choose! I look forward to spreading positivity with the help of each and every one of you.

 

Dream Big,

Sky

Just Life: A Letter to my 10 Year Old Self

Dear Sky,

As hard as it is to understand right now, your mom is right when she says it gets better. It doesn’t get better because people get nicer, it gets better because you become stronger.

There will always be people who tear you down because you are different or your dreams are too unique, too out of the norm or too big. You may be mocked for the things you wear or the passions that you have, people fear things that they do not know. Do not let other people’s ignorance allow you to change who you are or who you want to be.

It’s easy to fall under the influence of the “mean girls” or become a follower to avoid that feeling of being “different” or “unworthy”. Having the strength to be the one girl who advocates for your friend being bullied may not serve you well in the short term, but in the long run it will build the kind of character that will take you very far in life. Have the strength to be unapologetically yourself, the best example of this has been and will always be your little brother. The one who wore an eyepatch and pirate hat for school pictures – and who will go on to have the greatest sock collection you have ever seen. 

True friends are difficult to find. It’s okay if your greatest friend is your mom, she’s a trusty sidekick anyway. Don’t get down on yourself if you’re home alone on a Friday and not at the “cool girl” sleepover, I promise you that you’re not missing out on anything. The truest friends you will find will come later in life. They are the people that support you when you dive head first into life and often times will jump right in with you! 

Be kind. At points, this will prove to be the most difficult of any challenge you encounter. It’s easy to want to fight back, to fight hurtful words with equally as hurtful words. But what is it worth? Take the high road. When someone insists on talking ill of you, don’t do the same, prove your worth by continuing to be positive, to be kind and to be driven by your own light. People will see you for who you show them you are, not who people claim that you are. Hold true to this in every aspect of your life. *As I always told middle-schoolers this philosophy holds true on Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too,* remain kind in the face of negativity, don’t respond, you don’t have to.  This is always true, even when it doesn’t feel like it is. You will look back and be proud of the choices you made.

More than anything, never give up on yourself. There will be moments when you want to throw in the towel on what seem like the craziest of dreams or your future which at 10 seems like an eternity away. Set those goals high and make them happen. You will never regret working hard and getting a “no”, but you will always regret giving up and never taking the chance.

Dream Big,

Skylar

Just Life: Dancer Thighs

 

In the past I have addressed body image and self-confidence. Everybody out there can relate to having concerns, or being self-conscious about their body. The reality is everyone’s idea of beauty, the perfect body and what makes them feel pretty are as different as how the rest of the world perceives them. Healthy looks different on everyone, and this is something I have learned through this journey to Miss USA and as life continues post-Miss USA. My body has changed so much over the past few years and each transition has given me a new gift and a new challenge.

If you follow my writing, you know the story, I was a member of one of the best dance teams in Wisconsin (not completely bias, the team actually has the history to back up the claim) but it was not an easy road to get there. Physically I was not strong or a technically skilled dancer, so I had to work extra hard to find success. Along the way I developed my pride and joy, those dancer thighs. All my dancer friends out there know exactly what I’m talking about, off-season you lift to maintain them and in-season they are the reason you can do all those switch leaps and toe-touches (and they are reason it is crazy difficult to find jeans)! By the time I was done with High School I had beautiful dancer legs that I was so proud of.

When it came time to compete for Miss Wisconsin USA, I had a body I was proud of! Two years after dancing every day and I was still strong and I was healthy. That being said, when it came time to walk the Miss USA stage I had goals in mind and leaning out those dancer muscles was one of those goals. I switched up my exercise routine and changed what I was eating. I asked for tips from fantastic trainers and friends to help me reach my body goals, without compromising my weight or my daily consumption of cheese. I lost inches around my thighs and hips, but I maintained the weight I have had since high school. At Miss USA I had reached my goals for that point in my life, and I felt healthy and happy. Those same thighs I was proud of as a dancer I had become proud of for a whole different reason.

The point of this story is that healthy means something different for everyone, and can mean something different to an individual at different points in their life. Body image is a continuum for most women. The part you love one day can be your worst enemy the next. We think about it, we obsess, we judge ourselves even when no one else likely notices. This process never ends. If you are a dancer, a student, a weight-lifter, a mom, a bikini model the things you are most proud of might not even make sense to the rest of the world. But it isn’t their body to love, it is yours. So love your large muscular thighs, your waist, your hips, those biceps and triceps. LOVE IT ALL. The ability to change and grow with who you are at even given moment is part of the self-acceptance process.  Being body positive should change as much as your body changes.

Embrace not only what god has given to you but what you are able to create through hard-work and commitment, both are equally worth celebrating!

Dream Big,

Skylar

 

 

Just Life: Grounded

Someone the other day asked me the “secret” to staying true to myself, even when the world around me is moving so quickly. Even when you are just weeks away from the ‘big show’.   I don’t know if I have a secret, but I do have some methods.

Say thank you:  This is the most important and quite frankly the easiest. Never stop saying thank you and never stop being grateful. Thank the woman who is giving you your morning coffee, something that keeps you running through the day. Thank your parents, let them know that you appreciate them and all they do for you. Thank the people who put up with your madness, my roomie Sav fits this bill. Right now I find myself thanking sponsors and my directors on almost a daily basis for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. Never forget to say THANK YOU!

Remember the struggles: This year I have chosen to talk to middle school students, because frankly it was the most difficult and uncertain time of my life. For almost everyone it was the period in life when you lose the idealism of your elementary school days and start to realize that it is a lot harder to become Hannah Montana than one would think. All our crazy dreams start to get beat down, the awkwardness and growing pains means everyone becomes competitive, girls and boys forget how to speak to one another and support each other and all of the reality of life starts to set in. It is the time when most kids stop with the big dreams and they start to look like fairytales; unachievable and ridiculous.  Add to that literal growing-up, the braces, the bullying and in my particular case  dealing with actual life….My entire middle school experience included living with and watching my grandmother slowly lose her battle with cancer. REALITY SUCKS. Don’t forget the struggle, don’t forget how it felt when your life was less than perfect, don’t forget what made you, YOU! Embrace it because it will keep you focused on your dreams.

Set achievable goals and then make it happen: This one is near and dear to my heart. This year I did not set out to “Become Miss USA or even to walk in New York Fashion Week” two monumental goals that frankly I have no actual control over. Judges will decide if I am the right woman for the job on May 14th and a designer had to pick me from thousands of model hopefuls. But I did set achievable goals to prepare myself for these things to happen. My physical preparation is all on me. Everyday getting up, hitting the gym, eating clean, all the trainers in the world can’t make your body ready for a competition or to walk a runway… if you don’t do the work. A series of small fitness goals and a plan that is achievable and realistic. Building a modeling portfolio and network of industry professionals all done with a series of small, systematic goals. I did set a goal of being the best Miss Wisconsin USA once I was crowned. For me that meant making a lot of appearances, promoting my state, promoting my #skysthelimit philosophy to every school that would let me in the door, promoting the Miss Universe Organization and just working really hard all day, every single day for the 365 days I am fortunate enough to wear the crown and sash.  This method works for almost all big dreams. Break it down and make it happen.

Just recently I watched film of JJ Watt (NFL rock star and Wisconsinite) returning to thank his 4th grade teacher for believing in his Badger/NFL dreams.  Even in 4th grade JJ knew his end goal but to get there every day he worked on the small things, every day focused and committed. Plus, he never lost sight of the people who helped make it happen, and even at the height of his career is gracious and thankful!

Don’t let anyone else define you: The hardest of all my suggestions…really hard when you are 13-18 years old, still hard when you are an adult. I am currently putting myself in the position to be ‘judged’ by the world. The harshest kind of judgment, the kind that will come in a bikini, in front of a LOT of people. The kind that will come with such quotes from viewers at home and even online like, “Oh Wisconsin is hideous!” “Not my pick” “Hate that girl” seriously those things will be said about not just me but every contestant by someone somewhere in the world. But here is my reality….NO ONE ELSE DEFINES ME! No ones judgment of me on a single day or in a single moment will be the foundation for how I live my life or the goals I am able to accomplish. This whole experience is a drop in the bucket of my life.

My middle school visits almost always circle to this place where a sweet girl or boy connects with me afterward and talks about someone mistreating them. And we almost always have a discussion about not allowing someone to define you. No one is allowed to tell you your dreams are too big, your passions, your ability to achieve, no one knows what is in your heart and no one has the right to take what is away from you.

This is how through the craziness and through what I will likely remember as some pretty big defining moments in my life, I have never lost sight of Skylar Witte. The girl, the middle school girl uncertain, scared and sad…the woman walking the runway in New York, same person….always stay grounded in who you are.

Dream Big, Skylar

New York Fashion Week February 2017

 

 

Just Life: Being Respected

I recently had the most real conversation of my reign as Miss Wisconsin USA with two girls who must have been in the 7th or 8th grade. I was visiting a middle school to give one of my usual presentations about setting goals, living your dreams and choosing to be positive at an age where bullying just seems easier. Afterwards, in the lunch room these two bright-eyed beauties approached me and presented me a question I had never been asked…but boy, did it get me thinking.

Why is it that you are so beautiful and all the boys in our school listened to you and were so respectful of you when you were talking, they were calm and kind, no one made rude comments  but to us they are always disrespectful and sometimes just mean?

And immediately, just like that, in a split second I was thrust back to middle school myself, there is a reason I talk to this age group and this was it. Suddenly my life advice could mean something. So I sat up straight and launched into my brief but hopefully lasting rant.

I was treated the same way, most girls in middle school are! Is it right? No. Is it OK? No. Is it part of everyone growing up and learning to build friendships and relationship? YES. Is it likely a boys way of getting a girls attention? 100% YES… but do you have to accept rudeness and mockery and cruelty? NO.NEVER.NOT EVEN ONE TIME!

So I told the girls to stand-tall, be strong and never let a boys words or actions get the best of them. I explained how even though it is easy to cry, to be cruel back or to simply go and tell on a someone for being disrespectful, the best course of action you can take is to not allow it in your life. Like all things hurtful or mean, the effect of the action is only meaningful if it elicits a response that the tormentor was seeking. I shared the story of being booed once at a pep assembly by a large group of nasty boys because I had recently broken up with one of their friends. I felt like running from the gymnasium but I didn’t, I did my part with a smile on my face and simply kept going. Once a boy was a jerk to me and I didn’t speak to him for a good three years, until he grew out of this unfortunate-jerky-phase. That is not a scientific phase of puberty but I believe it exists. He came around and later apologized for all the mistreatment when we were younger.

It is hard advice…not allowing your feelings to be hurt is a nearly impossible task, but choosing to not allow someone the satisfaction of slowly beating down your self-confidence is a necessity, in middle school and well beyond.

I told them that being that strong brings with it a new set of challenges. People will call you cold, snotty and much worse. People, especially mean ones hate to be ignored. But in the end the right people (and in the case of dating, the right boy) will rise to the surface. When you are older and have gone through all of the growing pains, those boys will start to respect your strength, your conviction and your independence. They are the people you will want in your life.

Dream Big,

Skylar

 

Just Life: Becoming You

There is not much about me you can’t find out by searching my name on Google or reading any of my blog posts. I am an open book. Some people find this perplexing, why would I share so very much of my life, my thoughts and my unsolicited advice. The answer for me is a rather simple one, something that I share will help someone, somewhere, someday.

My journey into modeling, my life goal of becoming Miss Wisconsin USA, heck even my frustration with the dating world have all been unique to me, however in each arena in my life I have gained some useful insights that frankly, I wish I had known when I started down that path. So I share. I do so without hesitation and sometimes without care for perfect grammar or AP style (apologies to every English teacher in my life). My writing for those who know me personally is probably more like a conversation you would have if you sat down and visited with me in person. Informal, candid and with a tone that always, always skews on the positive but not annoyingly sweet. That’s just me.

It wasn’t always me, it took me a long time to get here. When I meet young girls who are just finding themselves and struggling with finding the right friend group, the right team, the right ‘thing’ that they love, the right boy, the right path, even the right style that suits them, I can’t help but think…been there, done that. Add on top of that struggle the pressure of the world that you are somehow doing it all wrong. That pressure can come from your peers, your parents, your teachers, everyone you come across in life will have an opinion on who you should become. They all for the most part will come from a place of love. They will all want what in their minds is best for you. But becoming you is the most personal journey you will ever go on, and no one can determine the desired outcome. Becoming you is the only journey in life you must take solo.

The harshest reality out there is that the only person who can hold you back from achieving your wildest dreams is you! People will try, they will stand  in your way, they will give you a million reasons why you can’t do something, they will question you and they will judge your every move. But in the end those people will only control your destiny if you allow them.

People thought I was crazy for traveling every weekend on a shoestring budget to work with photographers for free, building a modeling portfolio for a career I didn’t have. They wondered why I would skip ‘the social event of the year’ to hit up a casting call a hundred miles away that would only last 5 minutes and likely end without a job! Everyone thought I was crazy, until that portfolio and a single 5 minute call ended in getting me a modeling job that any big agency signed model would die to have.

Even my biggest supporters (mom, calling you out) told me 19 was too young to attempt a run at Miss Wisconsin USA, “wait it out a few years, your time will come.” But I knew I was ready and I knew I was certain of who I was and where I was going. I knew they were right if it wasn’t my time it would be eventually,  but I knew something they didn’t… in the year between the 2015 pageant and 2016 pageant I had become Skylar Witte.  I was so certain of what was in my heart, and I knew that if I could just get that out to a set of judges I had already won. Apparently I did, they knew who I was in under 5 minutes. I showed them my heart!

Becoming you is a confidence that is hard to explain. It is the ability to believe in yourself when no one else does, it is wearing a full-length sequin bodysuit with huge faux leather cape sleeves when everyone else is wearing a cocktail gown. It is knowing who you are so beyond a shadow of a doubt that no one can change that vision; their words, their suggestions and their criticism will fly right off you like those cape sleeves in the wind. I am told that 19 is a young age to get to this place.  I don’t really apologize for that and I hope I never leave it. Becoming you doesn’t mean that you are finished, oh not by a long shot. You will change your life direction, change your goals, change your boyfriend, change your style, all of those things will happen as you continue to evolve as a person and that’s the way it is suppose to be. But once you find your peace, once you embrace that solo journey and learn to love who you are, the rest is all just growth.

My wish for all those I love and have yet to love is that they too can become who they are meant to be. It might not happen in a minute or a year, but it will happen if you allow it.

Dream Big,

Skylar29989288920_cfcd5d19b0_o

 

Just Life: Advice to Freshman-self

Going into college you’re given a lot of advice from those that love you and those that have, as they say, “been there, done that”. Each tip will help you through your college years whether that’s from the first day on campus or your last final as a senior, however there really is no way to fully prepare someone for this new chapter in life. Looking back, there are some things I would like to tell my freshman-self as well as each first-year college student as they begin this wild new ride.

Don’t be afraid to fail.

Nobody is perfect and with all of the newness that surrounds you, it’s okay to fail. The exams are harder, the classes are different, and it takes some time to get into your groove when it comes to study habits. That first midterm exam may be your first taste of failure (it was for me), but I promise you will recover and laugh about it later.

Don’t let anyone guilt you about this ‘failure’ you will know exactly how hard you worked or how hard you didn’t, own it, accept it and move on!

Work hard.

Although it takes time to find what study habits will work for you, work hard to find those habits. Go to the library, your dorm room, try studying alone or with a buddy. But find your groove before it’s too late.

Don’t be too proud to ask if you are struggling, study groups, tutors, academic skills centers…these are part of your tuition, use them!

Have fun.

Studying is important, yes, it’s why you’re at school in the first place. But your world has room for fun. One of my fondest memories of my freshman year is a concert my roommate and I went to on a Wednesday, even though we both had really early Thursday mornings. Make time for school, but make time for memories.

Pack light.

Those of you that know me, know that I have every drawer exploding with clothes (I’m a hoarder). If college dorm rooms taught me anything it’s that you do not need to bring every cute sundress you have, you WILL be wearing leggings and a sweatshirt 4/5 days to class. It’s the comfortable reality of the matter.

Branch out.

College is the chance to find yourself and where you fit into this world. Use your freshman year to explore. Take classes that sound interesting, talk to people not in your “circle”, join a student org. This is your chance to set the stepping stones for your future, you literally have the freedom to lay those stones in any direction…cool!

Socialize.

Get to know at least one other person on your floor really well, this isn’t about escaping your roommate, it is about where you turn when you are wrapped in a towel and locked out.

Find ‘your people’ chances are you will meet them through a friend of a friend and once you discover each other and embark on one or two adventures, you will just know. They are your new home.

Keep yourself healthy.

Ahh Ian’s Pizza…you are my weakness. But for real, college is full of some yummy foods which are okay on occasion, but watch your habits. It’s extremely easy to fall out of your everyday workout routine, especially after a long day of classes but make time to keep your body healthy, you’ll be thankful for that down the road.

Health is more than physical.

As I’ve said, college is full of changes. It can be difficult to adapt and become completely comfortable with all of the new things around you. As important as it is to stay physically healthy it is important to make sure you are also working on your mental health. Don’t study too hard or put too many pressures on yourself, it’s okay to take a Netflix day when you need it. Or to call your parents to just to give them your ups and downs.

CALL YOUR PARENTS.

Not just for them, but for you too. Step out of your comfort zone and explore your independence, but also remember who stuck by you for 18 years to get you to this awesome new place in life. They will love it, and hearing my mom and dad’s voice on the other end of the phone will always leave me with a full heart.

Be smart.

Don’t walk alone at night or be too trusting. College isn’t scary as long as you are being smart and being safe. The buddy system is a good idea for both 2nd graders and 2nd year college students.

Indulge.

Staying healthy is great, but sometimes you just need a big old burger from the Nitty Gritty. Do it. Sometimes a bad day can be solved with a new pair of shoes. Don’t forget to give yourself a break.

There is so much more I want to share, but this is just a start. To all of the college freshman who have been moving in this week…enjoy it. It goes by so fast, that dorm room may seem too small to even move, but you’ll miss those nights eating Toppers on the floor with your roommate. Explore your campus and all it has to offer. And remember this new chapter is about YOU, make it a great one.

 

Dream Big, Skylar

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