One week ago, I stood on the dance floor at “Dancing With the Stars” and watched Kellie and Derek be crowned the champions. At that moment, I was truly happy for them but my heart was broken.
Everyone always says how I am mature beyond my years, but at that moment I became a 16-year-old.
I had to step off the dance floor, out into the hallway and hide in the staircase and gather myself. Because I had put my heart and soul into this competition, I did not want to come in second place. And for some time, tears flowed and my dad and mom hugged me and told me how proud we were of me. I gathered myself together, did one interview and couldn’t really talk anymore.
I fell asleep on the plane to New York and woke up having to make a huge adjustment in my attitude to be able to face the world again. And as that day progressed, I was able to believe the words that were coming out of my mouth, which were that I was proud of myself and I was happy for our accomplishments. And after three days of interviews in New York I truly did believe what I was saying.
This experience taught me so much about myself and about what I am capable of achieving. Val believed in me and pushed me further than anyone has ever pushed me before. Sometimes I looked at him and laughed when he told me what I was going to do, but he truly believed in me and I am forever grateful for that because through his belief, I was able to believe in myself and achieve more than I thought I ever could.
This competition also taught me a valuable lesson that is somewhat cliché — it’s not the destination but the journey.
So I didn’t win the coveted mirrorball trophy, but I realize I have gained a tremendous family in Val and the Chmerkovskiy family. As Val so eloquently put it in a toast during dinner at his brother’s house in New Jersey, I now have a Russian army behind me, and if I ever need anything, all I have to do is call.
And therein lies something else I’ve learned — how valuable and important family is. Although I knew the value of family from my own experience, I was able to see it from another perspective; through the eyes of the big brother that I have gained.
The friendships and relationships that will go on past the competition are beyond measure. From Wynonna, or Mama Wy as I call her, to my other big brother Jacoby, to yet another big brother in Victor… the list goes on and on.
And throughout this process my fans have been beside me the entire way. They have voted, called, e-mailed, texted, Facebooked, Tweeted and so much more. Whenever I would feel down or stressed out about the competition, I could just scroll through my Twitter mentions and read the wonderful things that my fans would say and they naturally kept me going.
Even on the last day when I elbowed Val, struggled with strep throat, still had to take a test for school, and then perform in front of millions of people, I knew my fans were behind me the entire way.
Who knows if I will ever ballroom dance again, because this week I’m right back to hip-hop, as I rehearse for my music video for my first single, with the choreographer who I have wanted to work with for quite some time.
My dreams are coming true right before my eyes and “Dancing with the Stars” has helped me to realize that I have a lot more to achieve and that I can do anything I put my mind to.
I am so grateful for the opportunity that they gave me and I hope that I was able to inspire young boys and girls to believe in themselves… in their gifts… in their possibilities!