Here's the mini version which I just blurted out on the FB. Sexy edits to follow. Of course you should use your own judgement - if you think it will be terrible for your self-confidence then DON'T! But most people will be fine.
And, you know something? I was one of those people who said that I would never compete! Oh, how times change!
I think competing is a great idea! It's is mostly a way to take a snapshot of where you are at a certain time, and helps you to think about aspects of your dancing that you might otherwise not. Competing and not making finals, or making finals, or placing - none of those really mean you are a "good" or "bad" dancer. But it does give you a sense of what you might be able to do better (even if you place first!)
If you do compete, you should: A) dress up! even for prelims! B) get your friend to take a video of just you with the best camera you have access to. C) Ask judges for feedback - yaay for FREE mini private lessons from the biggest badasses around! (Be sure to ask considerately, this is a favor you are asking for, even if it is commonly granted.) D) Do not assume your results and FREAKING BE THERE for when they do finals. E) And this one is the hardest: try not to take it personally but more as a learning tool.
The lowest pressure way to start is with a Jack & Jill. You won't know which partner you get and you won't know the song - the comp will be based on a moment in time. One last really big DO: you should *always* greet whomever you get as a partner with complete delight and be totally gracious for any interactions with them over the whole weekend. Remember, *you* can affect people very powerfully at this sensitive time, and being able to compete graciously is a sign of somebody who *really* belongs in the finals!