'The Bachelor' 's Colton Underwood Says He's 'Undeniably Myself' This Season

New Bachelor Colton Underwood promises he'll be more vulnerable than ever during his season

He’s no stranger to looking for love on reality television, but this time, Colton Underwood is more vulnerable than ever.

“For a long time I was just a football player, but I want people to see me for who I am,” says Underwood, whose new season of The Bachelor premieres Jan. 7 on ABC. “I’m not this perfect dude. I have mistakes and I have flaws but I’m going to grow and get better from it.”

The 26-year-old former professional football player vied for love on Becca Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette; following their breakup, he headed to Bachelor in Paradise where he reconciled, then split up from, his on and off again girlfriend Tia Booth.

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“I consider them friends now,” says Underwood of his exes. “They’re supportive of me, and they’re happy.”

Watch the full episode of People Features – The Bachelor: Colton Underwood streaming now on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.

And though he didn’t find lasting romance on Paradise, Underwood says did learn a valuable lesson.

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“Throughout my football career, I’ve always been somebody who’s been very aware and I know when the camera is on me and I know how to be polished,” Underwood admits. “I can see how that might come off as disingenuous. So for the first time, it was like this is really me.”

The cover of PEOPLE.

For the full story on Bachelor Colton Underwood, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.

Now, Underwood says viewers will see this no-holds-barred Colton on the show.

“I’m undeniably myself, and I think realizing that is the way to live life,” he says. “I may be goofy, I may be corny and I may be cheesy, but I’m me.”

The Bachelor premieres Monday, Jan. 7 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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