Martine Cutajar: 'My biggest challenge has definitely been building my confidence and believing that I am not inferior to others'

Miss World Malta 2023 Martine Cutajar tells all in our Q&A

Miss World Malta 2023, Martine Cutajar has just finished a Master’s in Teaching and Learning, and is in her last year of a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy. She works at the RISe Foundation where they rehabilitate and reintegrate inmates into society. Her work and studies are her greatest passions and they have taught her many valuable life lessons. This was the reason she applied for Miss World Malta, and with her victory she plans on encouraging others to empathise with each other and always believe in everyone’s potential to grow and become better versions of themselves.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

My morning routine is not always the same since my working hours are not consistent, but the first thing I always do as soon as I wake up is pet my dog and spend some time with him while I set my intentions for the day.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

To never compare yourself to others. Always focus on yourself, to grow and learn from your experiences without excuses. Everyone is unique, down to the most basic and simplistic aspects, so you should never feel bad for doing what is best for you.

What do you never leave the house without?

I never leave the house without my keys. Sometimes I do leave my phone at home on purpose, especially when I take my dogs out for a walk in the fields, but most of the time I have it with me as well.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Empathic, resilient, determined.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

This is very difficult to answer. I have done many things in my life that I consider to be great achievements; even simply continuing my studies and going into my line of work as they are not for the fainthearted. However, till now, I believe my greatest achievement is winning Miss World Malta 2023. This was no easy feat because it takes great confidence, commitment and determination, especially when you are competing with so many beautiful and powerful women who are just as deserving of the title.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

This would definitely be watching a scary film while (sometimes) eating junk food.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Whatever you push away will always come back to you. It is important for us to deal with our emotions and experiences. Sweeping unpleasant thoughts or feelings under the rug will not work. There should be no shame in allowing yourself to acknowledge and accept what you feel and how you think because this is the first step to growing and becoming a better person. Immerse yourself in the moment, especially in your present self, so that the future becomes clearer.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

I think my Great Dane is the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought. I have two dogs; one that I got from Italy and another one I managed to adopt from MSPCA. They have both become a big part of the family and I definitely spend more money on them than anything else I have.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

When I was younger, I wish I knew to always trust life’s process. Wherever you are in life and whatever you’re doing is what is meant for you at that moment. So, it’s important to embrace every minute because there’s meaning even in the most mundane parts of life.

Who’s your inspiration?

I was brought up by very strong, independent women who had to take on the role of leaders in my family. Because of them I became determined and stronghearted, always working towards a fulfilling future. I cannot say I was ever inspired by one person specifically, but I’ve always looked up to hardworking women who believe in helping others and strive to improve society.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Today, it’s very easy to look at others and feel less than or unworthy of certain achievements because of what we see online. Because of this, my biggest challenge has definitely been building my confidence and believing that I am not inferior to others. On the contrary, I have everything I need to succeed.

If you weren’t a residential support worker and future psychotherapist, what would you be doing?     

Now I’m working at RISe Foundation as a residential support worker where I also hold aftercare sessions. I will be graduating with a Master’s in Teaching and Learning this year, and a Master’s in Gestalt Psychotherapy in the next year and a half. However, before I chose this line of work, I wanted to be a musician/music teacher. I’ve been singing and studying music for over 13 years and it’s a big passion of mine.

Do you believe in God?

Yes. The idea of God and the afterlife brings a lot of peace of mind to people. Being part of a community and having someone to turn to is always helpful as well. Also, God is a positive energy which encourages us to do good things, given that none of this is abused by extremists.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

If I could choose one person, it would definitely be my maternal grandmother. She passed away long before I was born, so I never met her. However, I’ve heard many stories from my family and people who knew her, all recounting what a strong, kind-hearted person she was, who never wished ill on anyone and always appreciated the little she had. The memory of her being strong-willed and holding strong values was the main pillar for my family. I would love to meet her to listen to all her advice and wisdom and share with her every detail of my life and how her family turned out.

What’s your worst habit?

Procrastination. If I don’t feel like doing something, I’ll keep pushing it aside till the last minute.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I tend to become extremely happy and talkative. But because of my profession, I am trying much more to limit how much I drink.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Without a doubt it would be Jennifer Lawrence. Her energy is very similar to mine, and she is a very versatile actress. She’s relatable, a bit clumsy like me, and overall seems like a very warm person.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Because of my background in psychotherapy, I like to surround myself with emotionally literate people. So, I would definitely disapprove of those who dismiss people’s feelings because they can’t relate to others on an emotional level and being closed off to different perspectives and new experiences.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

The 1st movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

What is your most treasured material possession?

The many photo albums my mother kept before we kept everything on our phones. They hold an endless number of photos of me and my sister when we were young, as well as of the whole family.

What is your earliest memory?

My earliest memory is of my family including all my cousins, aunts and uncles gathered around my grandfather’s kitchen table on a Sunday. My uncle brought his guitar, and everyone was singing old songs while he played.

When did you last cry, and why?

The day of the Miss World Malta final night. I entered the competition for the most part because of the dream I shared with my mother to one day proudly wear a prestigious crown. A few hours before the competition, the pressure and expectations where overwhelming. I knew a lot of people had invested a lot of time and effort in me and were excited to see me succeed.

Who would you most like to meet?

Julie Andrews. I fell in love with her voice ever since I heard her singing in My Fair Lady and saw her performance in The Sound of Music. But apart from being an icon, she is also involved in different charities and foundations. Overall, she looks like a warm and gentle person, who always holds herself with pride and dignity.

What’s your favourite food?

My favourite food is my grandfather’s rabbit stew.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

I try not to spend too much time on social media, so I do not actively follow any specific person. I mostly enjoy content related to animals, especially those that advocate for animal rights and rescues.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

I would go to the 1960s because it was a time when various music genres and styles flourished. The 60s gave us legendary bands and artists that remain popular to this day. Apart from this, psychology began to focus more on different aspects of the human experience that included cultural and societal factors, which paved the way for psychotherapists like me to focus on each individual as a whole.

What book are you reading right now?

Right now, I’m reading a variety of books because of my studies, most of them Gestalt related. However, before I sleep, I read a few chapters of Red Dragon by Thomas Harris and plan on continuing the entire book series.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Mind-reading. I tend to terribly overthink, so being able to read people’s minds might put me more at ease. It would also be very helpful for my job and therapy sessions as I’ll be getting the uncensored version of people’s thoughts which would allow me to help them in the best way.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

I would love to visit various countries and cultures that are completely different from ours. I would start from countries in Asia.

What music are you listening to now?

I always listen to a variety of music throughout the day, depending on my mood and what I’d be doing. I love listening to 60s and 80s bands and musicals throughout the day because they usually have deep and meaningful lyrics. If not, they’re just fun to listen to.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

I tend to shower in silence because it’s one of the rare instances where I’m alone with my thoughts. During a workout, I usually listen to a variety of rock, punk and hip hop.