A really exciting thing happened… I was asked by Cosmopolitan to write about my year as Miss America! WHAT. You all know I like making lists, so here is the “17 Things I Learned in 2017”.
Click Here to read this post in Cosmo: 17 Things I Learned Being Miss America 2017
17 Things I Learned In 2017
A different city every 48 hours. Two very overweight suitcases. Forty-seven(-ish) states. A million and one selfies. One Savvy year.
I became Miss America almost a year ago to this day. Once that iconic crown is placed on your head, you immediately become 100 years of history. I don’t remember much from that night, but I do remember feeling much larger than myself. In fact, a former Miss America once told me, “You don’t become Miss America, Miss America becomes you.”
When I look back at my year as Miss America, a lot of it is still a blur. Being Miss America is more than a full-time job, it is a 24/8 job. From morning to night, everything is planned for you; your life is no longer your own. This year, I have visited children’s hospitals, toured Army bases overseas, presented at award shows, spoken at galas, walked red carpets, and lived in hotels. I’ve been challenged, tested, encouraged, and molded more than I could have ever imagined, but what stands out the most are the life lessons I have learned. As a list-maker, here are 17 things I learned being your Miss America 2017.
1. “Pin-Rolling Meditation” is the new yoga. For me, pin-rolling my hair has become a very therapeutic time part of my morning routine — 15 minutes of repetitive motions that give me 15 minutes to reflect and set my intentions for the day. I don’t usually have time for an hour-long yoga meditation class to get my mind right, but a curling iron and hairspray are a close second.
2. Ask yourself why you’re getting up in the morning. Once you figure out the “why,” you can endure any “how” and make your goals and dreams much easier to achieve. This year, my “why” has been remembering why I wanted to be Miss America in the first place — it can be easy to just get into the groove of being Miss America and almost forgetting the real reasons why you’re here. I want to be someone that I wish I had as a role model when I was 13 years old.
3. When working toward a goal, train so hard that when it comes time for your moment, all you have to do is press play. And when I say train hard, it means that, as many hours as there are in the day, you’re using those hours to work toward that goal. Every decision that you are making leads toward it. Give it 1,000 percent.
4. Coffee naps are essential. Drink a cup of coffee, fall asleep during the 20 minutes it takes the caffeine to kick in, and boom! You wake up super happy and loving the coffee nap life. Thankfully, I learned this early on in my year, maybe three months in; in your first quarter as Miss America, you don’t really remember anything because you don’t really know what you’re doing. You’re just running around the country trying to act like you know how to be Miss America! By the point you figure it out, even somewhat, you also know you need to stay caffeinated.
5. At Starbucks, it is more fun to mumble your name when the barista asks for it.
6. Only start watching Netflix if it’s before 10 p.m. Or you will end up watching all nine seasons of The Office five times over. I had to learn this one the hard way…
7. Journal. Don’t let Instagram become your only life recorder. Yes, take as many selfies as you can and live your best life, but don’t be consumed with finding the “good light.” If you are too busy finding a great photo “for the grid,” you’ll miss some of the most picture-perfect moments. I have to force myself to step back! It is not something that’s easy but there’s something to be said for living your life without an audience. I think it’s important to keep part of our lives private and to reflect inwardly. Cheesy but I do pageants. I love cheesy!
8. And talk about your heartaches. The greatest conversations and the best friendships I have start with transparency. Being able to look at your struggles outside of your brain helps to reduce their hold on your heart and creates a deeper fellowship with the people around you. I’ve been away from family and friends much of the year, and it makes you grow up really fast. But more than just coping with being away from my friends and family, this time apart has made me cherish the moments with them even more. I’ve learned not to take those relationships for granted — and I am forever grateful for Facetime!
9. Carry extra socks. Airplanes are freezing cold nine times out of 10.
10. Define your own truth: I learned this from seeing how every single person has a different opinion of who Miss America should be. What she should look like, what she should wear, what she should talk about, and when she should keep quiet. One of the first things I always hear is,”You’re pretty short to be Miss America.”
But it’s exciting to prove those stereotypes wrong — after you talk with people and share a few witty jokes, they recognize that “Oh, she is intelligent. She is successful. She is goal-oriented. She has ideas far beyond what her makeup routine is in the mornings.” The lesson in this is simple: Decide what you want your story to be and unapologetically live it out.
11. And know you will not make everyone happy and that is OK. It is more than OK; it is normal. This is something I am still learning! The one personal trait that has caused me the most anxiety this year is my desire to please people and be liked. But the false idea that happiness comes when everyone around you is happy not only cripples joy, but it makes it impossible to be content. I am constantly learning that it is not my responsibility to change the emotions of the people around me, but rather my responsibility to make decisions that lead toward healthy solutions, even if at first they seem daunting.
12. Ask questions. Learn lots. You’re not supposed to know everything — I’ve had to learn that it’s OK not to know at first because we’re human, and we’re supposed to live and learn! Find every chance to learn about life outside your own. (My latest big question is, how to be an adult?!)
13. Listen to other peoples’ stories, life perspectives, and ideas. There is so much life that goes on that we don’t know about. This is something being an art major taught me — in the art world, you see different parts of people’s brains reflected in their work that you would not normally see if you’re just having coffee with them. You’re seeing the motives, the intentions, the history, the trials, and the celebrations they’ve experienced. Learning to have an open mind and an open heart leads to a more colorful life.
14. Don’t let your makeup wear you. After doing pageant glam every day, I’ve gotten the routine down to a crisp 20 minutes — roll hair, brush teeth, bake face, eyelashes, finish hair, lipstick, and selfie. But I remember that, after wearing false eyelashes every day for a few months, I did not like the way I looked without them. And even though eyelash glue and highlighter may make us feel like we can conquer the world, they are not what our beauty is contingent upon. It is so important to remind ourselves of our definition of the word “beautiful.”
15. Always wear a shower cap when getting a spray tan. I learned this the morning of the Billboard Music Awards. I woke up and I took a shower because you shower the morning after a spray tan, right? And my hair, when it was wet, was a little orange, and I was like, “OK, that’s fine. I just need to blow it dry. It’s going to be fine.” But as I blew my hair dry, it just turned pink! The bottom 4 inches of my hair was this bright, millennial pink. I’m thinking, This is not what I’m trying to do right now! So I washed it with baking soda, probably four times, trying to make the pink wash out, but it would not even budge. Praises for clip-in extensions to cover that up!
16. You cannot be grateful and anxious at the same time. Be mindful of your thought patterns throughout the day and focus on the things that you can be thankful for in this moment. Practice positivity. It’s unbelievably important to focus on how much you can be grateful for because, I know for me, the list goes on and on and on. Bringing those things to the forefront of your mind is, I think, a really important process. Yes, this is easier said than done, and something that I have not mastered, but I’m trying to put that more into my habitual mind-set. I have found that if I am struggling emotionally, it is because my thought patterns haven’t been healthy.
17. This was the best year of my life. This was the hardest year of my life. Through trials and struggles, I know without a shadow of a doubt I have become much more of the Savvy I was designed to be. I think that’s the great part and also sort of the worst part about being Miss America — you experience so much life, but you want to do so much afterward. I have a very unrealistic goal list of everything that I want to continue to do and want to achieve. You know, your path doesn’t change after becoming Miss America but it’s a whole lot wider. I am excited to take everything I learned in my life as Miss America into my life as Savvy Shields.
“Never apologize for burning too bright, or collapsing into yourself at night. This is how galaxies are made.” —Tyler Kent White.
So much love,
Savvy Shields, Miss America 2017