Maddie Ziegler has done some pretty amazing things. A breakout star on Dance Moms, a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, and now an author… and she’s only 14! From being center stage to waiting in the wings, Maddie’s had some pretty amazing experiences–and she’s not about to stop now. Read on for an excerpt from her new memoir, The Maddie Diaries. Now available wherever books are sold!
People think they know everything about me from Dance Moms or my Sia videos and I guess I understand how they might feel that way. I mean, I was completely hooked on Gossip Girl, and I felt like I knew all the characters on that show personally—we were family. I cried when I watched the last episode on Netflix because I truly felt like I was a part of their lives and I didn’t want it to be over! Then I was shocked—I mean shocked—when I saw Ed Westwick (aka Chuck Bass) presenting at the People’s Choice Awards and he started speaking with a British accent. I looked over at my mom: “What is going on? Why is he talking like Harry Potter?” I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that he was someone other than his character, a real person who just happened to be from England. Who knew? Though as I listened to him, I realized I loved him even more when he was being truly himself. I’ve always thought British accents were cute . . .
So I get how people can make assumptions based on what they see or hear or read—it’s easy to do that. Which is why I thought it was a really good idea to write a book. I may be only fourteen, but there are so many things I love and care about, and so many other sides of who I am. I want people to know the real me—the silly stuff, the serious stuff, and everything in between. I’m pretty sure you’ll be surprised at some of what you learn. For example . . .
- I’m an artist: I love to draw faces—especially eyes—and I just did a watercolor self-portrait. To be honest, it didn’t really look like me, but I had fun trying. I did a painting for my room—it’s black and white and kind of abstract, with a flower dripping down the middle. I also did one for Kenzie’s room of lips and a nose, and I painted Olaf for my baby cousin. In fact, I drew all these doodles throughout the book!
- I cannot leave my house without spraying on my favorite perfume. I love the sweet vanilla scent, and I spray on a lot. I spray it inside my arms, then on the back of my neck, and finally, I spray it in the air and walk through this cloud of perfume. My mom is always saying, “Maddie, you don’t need that much!” but I insist. Maybe it’s because the dance studios are always so stinky that I feel the need to smell good!
- I don’t wear my hair in a perfect bun all the time. In reality, a messy topknot is my go-to style when I’m not onstage. It’s the easiest thing to do. I just scoop it and clip it up, without even looking in the mirror!
- When I was three or four years old, I broke my arm just when I was supposed to start horseback riding, so I couldn’t. Looking back, I’m really glad that happened—even though at the time I remember being really upset. I might have been a horseback rider instead of a dancer! Things definitely happen for a reason, and I believe in fate.
- I have a wish list in my head of things I want to do, see, and be. And I believe in making wishes. Whenever my friends and I see the time 11:11 on a clock, we touch something blue and make a wish. I don’t really know why, but it seemed like a good idea and it kinda stuck . . . it’s like a superstition now.
- Dancing didn’t come naturally to me—I wasn’t very good at it in the beginning, and I had to work really hard. It taught me an important lesson: Even if you’re not good at something at first, don’t give up. Someday you will look back and never believe how far you’ve come.
- I believe in taking time-outs every now and then. People think I am in the dance studio 24/7, every second of the day. I do dance every day, but I also have a home and friends that I hang with (more on that later). My family recently went to Aruba on vacation and I loved every minute of it (except for the sunburn—I looked like a lobster!). Sia taught me this: If you don’t want to be doing what you’re doing, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed and the passion isn’t there, then it’s okay to walk away for a little while. You’re allowed to take a second to breathe; you don’t have to keep going and going.
- I’m okay with being a loser. In the beginning of my competitive dancing, I always wanted to win and I’d get mad or upset if I didn’t. But now I know that losing is good. It makes you work harder the next time and learn and grow from your mistakes. It makes you a better performer and a better person.
- Our dog Maliboo is a diva. Every night she has to go out at 4 a.m. to pee and my stepdad has to get up, go downstairs, and open the door for her. Technically, she’s Mackenzie’s dog, but there’s no way my little sister is losing any beauty sleep . . .
- I have a bedtime routine: I put a barrier of pillows around me so I feel comfy and protected, and I can only fall asleep if I watch TV before I go to bed. Right now, I’m binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy.
- I have an amazing memory. Seriously, I don’t forget anything—I remember things from when I was a toddler. I never kept a journal when I was little, because I didn’t feel the need to write stuff down. But I can tell you every detail of what happened when I was younger and how I felt at that time—it’s like hitting rewind, and it really comes in handy when you’re writing a book!
And those are just a few things off the top of my head. My mom has also kept every picture of me over the years (even the embarrassing ones) in boxes, and a ton of those are in here, too. But I have a whole other reason for writing this book—one that doesn’t involve me at all. It’s about you. I want to encourage you to believe in yourself and follow your passion. Everyone has a talent and a gift; everyone can make an impact. I know I’m just a teenager, but if you haven’t noticed, teens are changing the world. More than ever, we have a voice through social media and a way to connect, educate, and make a difference. We are the future, and girls especially are awesome. There is nothing that we can’t do if we put our minds to it. See the possibilities and don’t let stuff or people hold you back.
I always thought I would be “just a competitive dancer.” But now, I realize that was only the beginning. I’m just figuring out what makes me happy and excited and pushing myself to try new things and stretch my wings. I guess my philosophy is “Why not?” Why not do something that you’ve never done before? Why not dream big? Why not stand up for things you believe in? Sometimes you have to take a big, scary leap, and that’s okay. Even if you fall on your butt, you’ve still soared.