During her appearance on the Jan. 31 episode of Jason Tartick's Trading Secrets podcast, the ballroom dancer reflected on the big role change and the "total pay cut" she subsequently took. Looking back, Arnold said that the demotion was a learning experience when it came to her dance career and her finances.
"I just was not ready. I hadn't been on the show ever to know how things work," Arnold said. "In hindsight, it's the best thing that happened to me that I went down to being a background dancer."
Arnold, then 18, first joined the ABC dance competition on its 16th season in 2013 as a pro. She finished in eighth place with her celebrity partner, boxer Victor Ortiz, before getting word that she would only be returning to the show as a troupe dancer.
Although the news was "tough blow" at first and the downgrade was "probably one of the hardest parts of my career," Arnold said she is grateful for having experienced it as a young age "because it really propelled be in being ready for the time they asked me to come back up as a professional."
"When I was 18 years old, it was a lot harder for me to understand," the 28-year-old continued, explaining that there "wasn't really any justification" given in her role change. "In hindsight, I know it was because I wasn't quite ready. I think I needed more time to mature—first of all—and to really find out who I was as an entertainer. You really have to come into your own and figure out who you are as a person."
The self-discovery journey for the So You Think You Can Dance alum also involved learning how to budget. As a teen "going from one salary and having that cut more than in half," that was the time when she finally learned how to appreciate the little things.
"I never had a job growing up because literally my whole life was school and dance, so I had never had to pay for my own gas," she explained, adding she was "just starting to barely experience money and pay checks" when her salary took a dip. "It's an interesting thing that you have to learn."
As a background dancer, Arnold found herself putting in more time at the studio than a pro because she was working "on the show's schedule," which required her to be" always on call, ready to go." She recalled of the job, "It's a total pay cut, but it's still great."
Arnold was promoted back to pro in 2015 after working four seasons as a troupe member.
In retrospect, she appreciates having family look out for her during that part of her life. "I'm lucky that I had parents to guide me through that," she said, "because that would've been a totally different story had I not have people in my life that were directing me and helping me through that."
E! News reached out to reps for Dancing With the Stars for comment but did not hear back.