Just Life: Leading

Today I had a very unique opportunity, I was invited back to a middle school where last year as Miss Wisconsin USA I presented my ‘Sky’s the Limit’ program. Now, granted I gave up the crown 6 months ago, they still wanted me to come and this time around I discovered it was very different. It was a reminder to me what the saying ‘Always wear your invisible crown.’ really means.  It was a reminder to me that people watch, pay attention and living to inspire is sometimes not a conscious choice but it should be.

The same middle school girls who maybe knew a little about the Miss USA program and a little about me last year, knew everything about me this time around. They had all been glued to their TV’s last May and well before watching every post and picture. They all continue to follow my life journey. They watched the recent NYFW show online, they followed my Insta Stories on my recent trip to Disney. They watch, they listen and they care. And that my friends is an overwhelming thing to think about. So today I had to ask myself the hard questions. Am I worth caring about? Someday when I have a child, would I want them to look up to someone like me?

The answer is difficult, because I know I am not perfect. I know that I have been struggling to engage in college and just desperately want it to be done. I know that I have off days and am crabby, lately they seem to have multiplied.  I question things I shouldn’t and worry about, things I can’t control. I know that my confidence has wavered more than it should recently. I know that as a human being I have a lot of room to grow.

I am not perfect, but I am always myself.

All of that being said today I had to opportunity to talk to a group about leadership and was simply reminded being a leader isn’t about being perfect. It is about making choices you are proud of, working hard, encouraging people and living a life that brings others joy. It is about sharing yourself in the most authentic and genuine way possible. It is about admitting your flaws and accepting them. It is about working continuously to make yourself and those around you better. It is OK to question everything, but leaders have faith in their abilities and faith that it will all work out.

I love that I had this opportunity today, not for that leadership group but for myself. It was the motivation I needed to remind myself of the things I already know.  My pageant days are over but I hope to live a life that continues to inspire and I hope that my words will be able to have an impact on these amazing students!

Please read my other blogs for middle school students, this is my favorite age group to write about:

Just Life:Being Respected

Just Life: A Letter to My 10 year old self

Just Life: Mean Girls and Middle School

Just Life: Instagram vs. Reality

 

Dream Big,

Skylar

 

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: 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: 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

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