Hello loves! So this is officially my last USDC post! In yesterday’s post, I told you guys a little about exploring Orlando, about the beautiful Swan Resort where the competition was held, and all my foodie finds. Today I’m going to tell you a little bit about my experience at the competition and how it has made such a huge impact onΒ the outlook I have towards my future dance career and made me even more determined to achieve my dreams.

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I competed on Thursday morning in the Open Gold Latin Scholarship. Of course I was a bundle of nerves. This was only my second big competition and I’m still working on how to channel my nerves into positive energy. The last competition was extremely tiny compared to this one. I looked around me in the lineup and see these amazing girls who look like professionals. Then I walk out onto the floor in front of a panel of judges consisting of the amazing Karina Smirnoff (DWTS) Mary Murphy (SYTYCD) and Shirley Ballas (Latin Champion). Yeah, my nerves skyrocketed. After we walked off the floor from the first round, I knew the results wouldn’t be good. I knew that I hadn’t performed to the best of my ability and it KILLED me. I knew that I was so much better than what I had just shown. We didn’t make it through to the final and I was crushed.

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My Mom, boyfriend, and dance instructor tried to give me words of encouragement but I completely shut them down. I was constantly thinking about the steps that I missed or how off-balance I was in certain moves….it was INSANE. Finally I came to the realization that I couldn’t change what had happened. I had to move on or else Saturday was going to bring the same fate. Also, I had to understand that this was only my second competition and the biggest one that I had ever done. Hello…US Championship. What did I expect? Most of those girls had been dancing since they were little. I couldn’t compare myself to them. I had to focus on the improvement that I had made since the past competition.

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I had a day to really ponder over all of this and how I was going to change it. I decided that on Saturday I wouldn’t even worry about anything; I was just going to DANCE and have a blast doing it. The nerves were still there but I felt so much more relaxed and confident on the floor. Apparently this worked because we made the top 6 which was so much better! It just shows what a difference that changing your mindset and attitude can do. Obviously I wanted to place better, but I still have a lot of room for improvement and I’m okay with that. Amazing dancers like Karina Smirnoff and Joanna Leunis didn’t become great over night. They worked hard to become champions, and that’s just what I intend to do.

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Thursday night I was about ready to give up honestly. I had put all this pressure on myself, and because I didn’t live up to those standards, it wasn’t worth trying anymore. That was RIDICULOUS. I was just really frustrated, but giving up is NEVER the answer. I love dancing, Β and I will continue to work my butt off until I achieve success. I don’t care how long it takes. You have to have that FIGHTER attitude in the dance business. Saturday night I got to watch the Pro Latin competition. This reiterated why I love what I do. Those couples are AMAZING!! Their performance and technique is just insane to watch. It’s captivating and beautiful….and I can’t wait to look like that someday. It’s reassuring that they were all in my position once, just starting out at the amateur level and just starting to figure everything out.

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Getting to attend this competition was such a blessing and a wonderful experience. It has pushed to continue to improve and become the best that I can be, and understand that it will take time but eventually will pay off. I want to give a huge thank you to my amazing dance instructor for pushing me and encouraging me, a huge thank you to my Mom who has stood by me every step of my dance career and believed in me the whole time, and to my boyfriend who loves and supports me through all my ups and downs. It’s these amazing people that have helped me get to where I am, and will continue to stand by me along my journey.

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So you may not be a champion yet, or you may not be where you THINK you should be, but you WILL get there if you continue to push and REFUSE to give up. Sometimes it takes a little bit of a rough patch or some inspiration to get you to that point of pure determination which is exactly where I’m at right now. I have had to take this week off because of a back injury as well as because of my work schedule, but I can’t wait to get back in the ballroom next week. I know exactly what I need to work on for the upcoming competition in….PUERTO RICO!!! Seriously cannot wait πŸ™‚

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No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up.

Ashlyn Tori <3