Returning for the all-star season, she's taking it seriously but also just wants to have fun

By Tim Nudd
Updated September 20, 2012 05:00 PM
Craig Sjodin/ABC

Still a teenager when she first appeared on Dancing with the Stars, Bristol Palin acquitted herself well – and raced to a third-place finish back in 2010. Now she’s back for the all-star season, and feels even more prepared for the spotlight.

“I’ve grown up a lot since last time,” she tells PEOPLE. “I was 19 when I started Dancing with the Stars the first time. And this time I’m 21, going on 22. I’ve matured a lot in those few years.”

Not that it will be easy. Palin, who is reuniting with professional partner Mark Ballas, admits she’ll have butterflies when she enters the ballroom.

“You still get nervous,” she says. “But I like being out of my comfort zone. I like challenging myself and this is the perfect place to do that.”

She also admits to being a little rusty. “I haven’t danced at all,” she says. “I still refuse to dance at a wedding or anything like that, just because I’m pretty shy … People are expecting you to whip out the quick-step or something and that’s just not me.”

Palin adds that she’s taking the all-star season seriously, but it’s not going to be all work and no play.

“I’m going to have fun, that’s my main goal,” she says.