Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Bristol Palin entered the Dancing with the Stars studio with these goals in mind:
1. Get out of her comfort zone
2. Have fun
Mission accomplished--and then some. Her improvement over these last several weeks is obvious. Judges spoke time and time again of her impeccable form and footwork. They encouraged her to let go more, and we beheld her do that as well. This was not by accident; this was the result of hard work, determination, and a relentless commitment to progress. Bristol has come a long way, and we had the privilege of watching it all and cheering her on.
When she took on this adventure, Bristol readily admitted that she had done no more dancing than that which a mom does with her son when no one else is watching. However, when contacted by DWTS, Bristol didn't let her inexperience get in the way. In true Palin fashion, she chose to tackle this new challenge with which she was presented and to do it with everything within her. I don't know if Bristol realized the impact that stepping out--literally--would have, but immediately people rallied around her and were very much engaged in her new endeavor. This is evident on Facebook, for as soon as she started her official page, her Facebook friends blew up, as the saying goes. She reached 1,000 in just one day, 5,000 in a week, and the growth continues. She currently has nearly 27,000 in such a short amount of time.
Bristol's ability to exchange "mourning for dancing," as Governor Palin reminds us, should be a lesson to each of us. Her appearance on the show did more than electrify fans. It inspired a multitude. While the number of people who follow her on Facebook does speak to the celebrity Bristol has, various comments I've read there are what speak to the impact she's having on the lives of people. Both men and women are applauding her growth as a person and the perseverence she personifies. Not everyone can come through what Bristol has come through with such class, grace, and influence. As a teenager, she became a mom. She faced her responsibility and brought her son into the world. She finished school, worked hard, and committed herself to putting Tripp first. This journey wasn't without mistakes, heartbreaks, or sacrifices, but she entered this season with faith, hope, and a steely spine--not just the DWTS season either. I'm talking about this new season of her life. This is where people find inspiration in her.
As if DWTS wasn't challenge enough, Bristol simultaneously took on the added challenge of traveling to share her testimony and the message of abstinence she has embraced. She spoke at Lifehouse in Louisville, the Tulare-Kings Right to Life in Visalia, and the Perry Center in Fargo. She has found her own voice and has literally matured before America's eyes, and it's only the beginning for her. As her mother, Governor Palin, would say, "The world is her oyster" as she moves forward.
Dancing is a metaphor for life, and in just a few weeks, Bristol has lived it before us:
You're faced with a challenge, so you put one foot in front of the other. It may be new, but each step leads to another--and you learn along the way. It may be uncomfortable, but you give yourself to someone you trust to lead you--and you find out that there was more to you than even you knew. Your routine gets judged, but you take the criticism, some of it unfair and inconsistent, but you go back to the practices, the sweat, the discipline--and you come back again for more. The music ends all too soon--and yet you walk away secure in the knowledge that you did what you set out to do. You got out of your comfort zone, you had a blast, and you even did something you hadn't bargained for: you made a whole lot of people feel like they were dancing right along with you.
Tonight's third place finish is certainly not the end for Bristol. The greatest adventures of life are ahead of her still. She'll continue to embrace new challenges, grow as an individual, and share a message of faith, life, and hope--and she'll do it with the support of people who, while watching someone become her best self, have found the strength to become their best selves.
Stepping out never comes without haters, and there have been many along the way trying to derail Bristol's efforts. We can learn much from her philosophy, however--the same philosophy she shared with her parents when they reminded her of the criticism she was sure to face: "People are going to criticize anyway, so I might as well dance." Dance she did, and in so doing, the numbers of people she inspired far outweighed the numbers of haters.
Bristol Palin's Dancing with the Stars adventure ended, but if this chapter had to come to a close, if tonight's dance was her last televised dance, what better way to go out than having the courage to step out of her comfort zone the last few weeks--once in a monkey suit, no less--and have the time of her life? These were her goals after all, were they not?
Yes, mission accomplished. Congratulations, Bristol Palin!
Of course, Governor Palin offered her congratulations. She just tweeted the following: