updated 04/19/2011 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/19/2011 AT 9:05 AM ET
Kendra Wilkinson and partner Louis van Amstel had the honor of performing Dancing with the Stars’ 1,000th competitive dance, a “Yankee Doodle”-themed foxtrot, on Monday night’s show. But the milestone the reality star was equally proud of was hitting the ballroom floor with a sense of confidence for the first time.
“Finally, I got a dance that I was into! It was fun. It was happy and it was a celebration of my confidence,” a beaming Wilkinson told PEOPLE minutes after the show. “My confidence went from night and day from last week to tonight. I’m so happy.”
Last week, Wilkinson took offense to judge Carrie Ann Inaba’s comments that her Viennese waltz lacked elegance. But a week of cooling off and “a lot of heart-to-heart talks with Louis” allowed Wilkinson to gain some perspective on the situation. The result was a more self-assured performance.
“We really worked hard this week,” said Wilkinson, who earned 22 points with Amstel, leaving them tied with two other couples for the bottom spot on the leader board. “Even though our scores weren’t so good, I give myself a 10 for how good I felt out there.”
Another couple will be eliminated on Tuesday’s Dancing with the Stars, which airs at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.