Miss Wisconsin USA Life: Awareness

This weekend I was honored to be part of the 10th annual Down Syndrome Awareness Walk in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin-Chippewa Valley advocates for a worthwhile cause and is a wonderful organization. I have supported multiple causes throughout my life.  Among the organizations related to celebrating all abilities, I have been an award presenter for Special Olympics, a judges coordinator and emcee for the Miss Amazing pageant and am so looking forward to participating in Best Buddies events around the state as an ambassador as part of the Miss Wisconsin USA organization.

But even more so, I have been involved in awareness events and walks since I could walk. My mother was a news anchor and was often asked to participate, so non-profit events were a true family affair. I am blessed to have been taught the importance of community involvement and giving back. We did it all, Alzheimer’s awareness, heart disease awareness, Epilepsy awareness, mental health awareness, and breast cancer awareness. The latter came to be when my Nana was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer when I was 12 years old. She wanted to attend events and we all got involved.  Something she used to say has stuck with me all of these years. We would all get dressed up in our pink shirts with our ribbons and pins and head to an ‘awareness’ event and she was bald and sick and going through chemo and would say….”AWARENESS, oh I am aware, I’m aware of what breast cancer is and what it does and what it means.” and she was, we all were. For my family it meant we would eventually lose our matriarch.

So when I go to an awareness event that is always top of mind. The families who attend, who live every day with ‘awareness’, choose to come to help the rest of the world understand, even if it is just for one day, for a few hours in a park, to share what it means. It is a time for them to come together, be together, to laugh and sometimes cry. My heart is full this Monday morning knowing that showing up with a crown and banner didn’t actually make anyone more ‘aware’ of the ups and downs these families face every moment of every day, but it did put a smile on a lot of faces. They are aware, and I am more aware and more educated than I was yesterday.

This will be my favorite part of being Miss Wisconsin USA. Please invite me to your ‘awareness’ event, I would be honored to be a part of something bigger.

Dream Big, Skylar

Miss Wisconsin USA Life: Tomahawk

Nestled in the Northwoods of Wisconsin is the beautiful community of Tomahawk. To most in the world it is known as a motorcycle mecca,  with not one but two Harley Davidson plants located in the city. It is home to one of the largest biker rallies in the nation, the event raises thousands of dollars for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, but to me it is my second home.

Tomahawk is where a majority of my extended family lives. It is the place I have worked since the age of 14! On the shores of Lake Nokomis there is a supper club that has been owned by not one but two sets of my great aunts and uncles. It has been in our family for 23 years. Rumors say the building was once financed by the mob as a rum running operation and the tunnels and false walls in the basement would lead me to to believe that is true.

I have been a busser, a hostess and a waitress there for summers as long as I was allowed to work. I believe no job in the world teaches you the value of hard work more than, literally, serving others. When it is your job to provide vacationers with a memorable experience and your tuition bill depends on it, you learn the importance of customer service, kindness and hustle. A smiling, happy customer is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.

My summers in Tomahawk have prepared me for my job as Miss Wisconsin USA, to the thousands of locals and tourists I’ve had the pleasure to meet over the years, thank you. I wish I could share the true essence of the ‘Fish Fry’-Wisconsin experience with the world, but that batter just doesn’t travel well. So everyone from this point forward will have to take my word for it.

From apron to crown, proud to represent Tomahawk, Wisconsin

Dream Big, Skylar

image

Miss Wisconsin USA Life: My Time

I once wrote how it wasn’t my time and how I was completely at ease and peace with that, and today looking back,  I realize the why…because right now is MY time.

Everything in life happens for a reason and I now understand the reasons for the blessings and lessons in life. My past year preparing for Miss Wisconsin USA was a year of tremendous growth where I learned so much about myself and exactly what having this job meant to me. I knew exactly why I wanted it and what I would do if given the honor. On Sunday night a group of judges decided it was my time to represent Wisconsin. It excites me that I now get to do this job every day. It is my time and I plan on living every single minute of it to the absolute fullest.

A couple of big things have hit home, I am now the representative of the 40 other women standing on that stage with me Sunday and I do NOT take that lightly. Among them was a PhD candidate, a collegiate level volleyball player, countless entrepreneurs, women who work tirelessly to promote organizations they are passionate about and freely share their stories of both obstacles and unparalleled achievements. When that crown went on my head it did not elevate me above that amazing field of contestants and friends, it only made me the official representative of them all. As I continue this journey, a piece of each of them is with me and will strengthen and motivate me daily.

The other reality, and this one makes me tear-up every time I say the words, I am now an ambassador for the State of Wisconsin. What greater honor could there possibly be? As a girl who grew up in the Chippewa Valley, moved to Central Wisconsin, spent countless summers working in the Northwoods and now have the privilege of attending UW-Madison, Wisconsin is the core of who I am. I will be writing more about my adventures around the state in my new role and there will be much gushing, it’s all just too much to write in one blog.

My goals are simple: represent Wisconsin and the Miss Universe Organization in the best possible way each and every day and continue to promote a strong and powerful message throughout my reign as your Miss Wisconsin USA.

I was told I could do as many appearances as I could handle and I say…BRING IT ON! I have done 7 media interviews and already have appearances booked into November. This is what I want to do, this is what I’m ready to do. If you would like me to appear at your event or if you are connected with a school (middle schools in particular) please fill-out an appearance request form.

I can’t wait to live this dream, meet all of you and relish my time as Miss Wisconsin USA 2017.

Dream Big,

Skylar Witte

I end every blog  with the same words and have for the past year you have all been following me and if this isn’t proof of my DREAM BIG mantra I don’t know what is.

14324155_10154478000494544_6965107445320844267_o

 

Just Life: Mean Girls and Middle School

If I could go back and share secrets with my middle school and high school self it would be this simple piece of advice: Don’t worry it all shakes out in the end. 

When I think about the amount of time I spent worrying about what others thought about me, were saying about me and their overall opinions of me, it makes me both sad and angry. Not at those people but primarily at Skylar Witte. What a waste of valuable and precious time! My mother must have told me a million times over a tear-filled pillow that those mean girls who made fun of my squinty eyes or gummy smile didn’t matter and that they were likely jealous or self-conscious about their own lives and their own smiles.  I guess becoming an adult is accepting that my mother was right.

The same holds true for the boys who rejected me, made fun of me on the playground and were overall jerks. I have made amends with those boys and come to realize their motives were often the opposite of what I thought. Boys tend to get a girls attention in the most ridiculous ways possible. Again this discussion was had in my household a million times and I never accepted it until now.

I am now dating the boy who made my life complicated (and sometimes tear-filled) back before either of us knew any better, when we reminisce now we can’t help but laugh. Those early years make for the best stories and even though it was painful at the time it was part of the growing-up process and honestly at least for us, it is the reason we are who we are and we are perfect for each other. It’s like all of that struggle in our relationship made us the two strong individuals we are and we really were just creating our ideal without even realizing it at the time. We had to grow up to realize we made each other crazy because we are so similar.

But the same isn’t necessarily true for those mean girls. I have found that sometimes those mean girls just grow up to be mean women. They still talk behind your back, they are still self-conscious of their own shortcomings and rather than work on improving themselves they find some sort of joy in identifying others flaws. I don’t understand these women. Really I don’t. Instead of crying in my pillow I chose a different path and just don’t associate with these types of people. It is hard. Like everyone, I have gotten caught in the trap and talked poorly about others, but it never made me feel any differently about myself, actually it made me feel awful.  Looking back cutting ties with mean girls is something I will never regret.  I just can’t do it. There is no joy in causing others pain, pure and simple.

I have to believe as we all get older we find those who are most like us and they make-up our circle. I think women who are filled with negativity find others like them and ultimately in the end they will all turn on each other.  Women who are filled with kindness and joy build a stronger more lasting circle.

I will admit it, right now my circle is small but it is filled with the best people I know and I am finding my way with the right kind of friendship and a great support network. My favorite girls are those who find the beauty in others and loudly express it, and they don’t wait until she turns around to say something snarky, they mean it.My roommate and I tell each other how beautiful and amazing the other is several times a day, I am not joking we tell each other we are cute so often sometimes we laugh at ourselves. (I mean have you seen her she is stunning)

A small part of me still wants to call out every single mean girl who ever did me wrong and tell them my gummy smile and expressive ‘smiling’ eyes are the key to all the great things that have been happening to me, but it won’t matter they will still find a reason to hate, they will still find a reason to be jealous and they likely won’t change their catty ways.

A simple message I have come to take to heart these days was a virtue of my late Nana, that she passed on to my mom and I hope to pass on to my children someday; ALWAYS TAKE THE HIGH ROAD. No good comes of talking poorly about those who talk poorly of you. So instead I will just have to live with the reality that I’m living a pretty dynamite life with some really awesome, kind and caring people and eventually those mean girls and their evil circle will come back and bite them in the butt. It always does.

So if I could go back I would tell that awkward 13-year-old girl, don’t worry it shakes out in the end. Eventually you get the friends, the boy and the life you dreamed of, so don’t cry over people who will someday become irrelevant, they will have to fight their own battles and most of them won’t be pleasant. Take pity on their ways because people who work so hard day in and day out to bring others down have a truly miserable existence. When your mamma says, “Be the bigger person!” believe her because she knows.

Dream Big, Skylar

like-why-are

 

 

Pageant Life: Competition

 

People don’t often believe me when I tell them I am not a competitive person. A model and a pageant girl, I must believe in competition and I must want to win. Half of that last sentence is true. I like to win,who doesn’t, but I don’t consider other women my competition.

Here is what it has taken me 18 years of life to realize, in subjective activities in which you can not control the outcome being competitive is both counter productive and exhausting. Both modeling and pageants are just such types of activities. The outcome rests solely on a set of judges or a client/agent who has a very personal and very embedded view of what they are looking for in a model or a queen. So knowing that there is not another Skylar Witte out there in the world I truly have no one to compete with but myself.

If a client is looking for a 5’10” Hispanic model to promote their new line, I will not get the job. Chances are they won’t tell me that is specifically what they are looking for but if they are there is nothing I could have done, said or changed to land that job. If I knew they were looking for that I would have them contact my friend Vielka down in Texas because she is that girl, I am not. Chances are as I stood in line with the 200-300 others at that audition everyone else in line was comparing themselves to each other and to me. “Oh she is pretty, oh she is tall, oh she came equipped with a huge portfolio!” I have given up on these comparisons long, long ago. Because if they are looking for Skylar Witte, I will get the job, if they want Vielka, well hopefully she is in that line somewhere too 🙂

The same holds true for pageantry. A long time ago when I was much younger and devastated over not placing in a pageant someone told me, different judges, different day, different outcome. It is probably one of the most real things I have ever heard. Judges have a job to find the best representative they can, they are given a loose outline of criteria. Can she talk, walk, is she representative of today’s modern woman…so on and so forth, but in reality everyone’s ideal is going to be different. So my approach to my life is to continuously better myself and worry only about the things I can control. I work on my physical, mental and emotional well-being. I am not afraid to help others better themselves. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I was worried about giving away some big secret that was going to make someone ‘beat’ me out for a title. The whole concept of a pageant being some sort of a race is ludicrous to me.  The girl who walks away with a title did not win her way to a crown by elbowing out other girls along the way, that isn’t how it works!

There are competitive girls in both fields, some but very, very few are downright mean. They will try to tear others down, they will talk poorly behind your back and they will just not be kind when given the opportunity to be kind. I feel bad for those girls, they are missing out on some of the best things that both modeling and pageantry have given me. Lifelong friendships with cool, motivated, beautiful woman inside and out who I want to have by my side. Sometimes those girls will win, sometimes those girls will get the job but I never cry about those girls because in the end they had an opportunity to build a kingdom much more valuable than any crown or job and they blew it!  That 1% has given both industries a bad name.

In reality, most of the women I have come across are supportive and kind. They have also learned along the way that there is endless value in building others up and very little value in trying to tear them down. I don’t necessarily believe in destiny but I do believe in every moment having its ‘time’!

Last year I was 1st runner-up to the title of Miss Wisconsin Teen USA and after the pageant I did not feel even the slightest let down by the outcome. It simply wasn’t my time and I look at what this year has brought me and every day I am reminded of it. It was Karly Knaus’ time and that girl is killing it! I am proud of her, I am thrilled for her and I am honored that we became friends, not because we were ‘competing’ against each other but because we are two motivated women who have a lot in common. I did well that day, I talked the right talk, walked the right walk and was the most confident I have ever been. When we were standing up there in that moment I was truly and genuinely happy, for both Karly and for myself, I was the best Skylar Witte I could be that day and she was the best Karly she could be.  We are now friends and will be friends for the rest of our lives and that’s probably the best ending I could ever ask for!

 

Dream Big, Skylar

MacDuggal1