The former O.C. actress blogs exclusively for PEOPLE

By Mischa Barton
Updated April 04, 2016 03:30 PM
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Credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin

Former

O.C. star Mischa Barton is blogging about her experience onDancing with the Stars‘s 22nd season exclusively for PEOPLE.com. Follow Barton and her partner Artem Chigvintsev on Twitter!

Last week was a catastrophe.

The day started off with a disastrous dress rehearsal and that can really psych you out.

The saddest part was that Artem and I had actually been having a lot of fun in rehearsal. I’d been working hard and we’d made great progress. As I was standing there right before our dance, I was smiling. I was hopeful it would go well.

But then the video package started to play and it focused on all the negative moments from our week. They don’t let us see those videos beforehand and I was just sitting there watching it for the first time and it was demoralizing.

Artem saw how it was affecting me and immediately ran over to try and protect he. He just kept telling me, “Don’t look. Don’t look. Don’t look. Just concentrate on me and smile and have a good time.”

But it threw me off completely. Suddenly, the video package was over and the music was starting and I was just sitting there thinking, “Oh, my God!” And that’s where it really sinks in that you’re on a live show. None of it is faked. There’s no time to compose yourself. You’re on a train and it’s not stopping because it’s live.

I was trying to go through the motions but my head was still thinking about the video package. And I also think the scores from the first week had affected me more than I’d realized.

To top it off, we’d been rehearsing to a track but with the live band in the ballroom, I couldn’t hear the beat. After the show, I was actually talking to [former DWTS contestant] Joey Fatone and he was telling me that I have to pair the steps to the lyrics because that’s a common thing that happens on the night of the show.

So, I learned my lesson on that one.

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And that’s actually how I’ve been able to move on and have fun this week: I’m learning and growing.

I am a perfectionist, so it has been hard for me to struggle at times during this process. But Artem has been working with me on letting things go and just focusing on having fun.

And it’s working. Things that used to take me two days to learn are now taking me just two hours.

This week we are all telling the story of our most memorable years and we are doing a foxtrot to Miley Cyrus‘ “Party in the U.S.A.” I chose that song because I wanted to dance to something that was pure fun.

It also is a song that was released during the year I’m featuring: the year The O.C. ended and I moved to Europe.

It’s been really interesting to reflect on that time in my life. That was a transformative time, just like this experience has been.

There has been a huge learning curve for me while working on this show. I think reality TV is a little tougher for me than I thought it would be. I know I’m not like every other contestant that has been on this show. But I’ve presented a very honest honest version of myself and I have developed a deep mind-body connection and an inner strength that I hadn’t found before.

If we get voted out this week, or in the coming weeks, I know I’ll carry that – and a newfound love of dance – for the rest of my life.

Season 22 of Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.