'The Bachelor' 's Nick Viall on Premiere Déjà Vu and Finding a Shark (or Two) in the Water

"I started this journey with the hope I would find a love that could last forever, a love that was returned and a love that I've never felt before," Nick Viall says in his exclusive PEOPLE Bachelor blog

He was devastated twice on The Bachelorette and had a summer fling on Bachelor in Paradise, and now Nick Viall is looking to find a love that lasts as The Bachelor‘s latest leading man. Read his exclusive blog for PEOPLE every week and follow him at Twitter, @viallnicholas28!

Trust me, I was as shocked as you were when I was first asked to be the Bachelor. Believe it or not, I thought each season of The Bachelorette would be my last, and Bachelor in Paradise was no different. So, when I was asked to be the Bachelor it was avery surreal moment. In fact, it was so surreal that my first response was, I don’t know if I can do this.

A lot of considerations went through my head on whether I should accept this opportunity. I knew it was an amazing honor to be asked and could be an unbelievable opportunity. I have always been incredibly grateful for my time in the Bachelor world, and while overall I have no regrets, my time on the show hasn’t come without its hardships. But I have always been a risk taker and have always believed the greatest things in life often come with the greatest risks.

So, despite my fears and reservations, I knew I had to stay true to myself and follow my heart. I knew that deep down I would regret it if I wasn’t willing to face my fears that this could all blow up in my face. I went into this to find love, simple as that. I knew if I gave it my all and came into this with an open heart that I had an amazing chance at finding “the one.”

Preparing myself to meet 30 women was nothing short of exciting, but also nerve-racking. At the time, I didn’t know how many women would come out of those limos, but regardless, preparing to date over 20 women is super surreal. Once my suit was picked out, I caught up with a few former bachelors to hear about their experiences. My good friends Chris Soules, Ben Higgins and the one and only Sean Lowe. The boys gave me some great advice that I would reflect on throughout the season. And it was Sean who reminded me that there were still people in Bachelor Nation who would question me — and probably because they don’t watch Bachelor in Paradise.

Rick Rowell/ABC

Honestly, it’s an amazing program people! Trust me, I’m aware I might be a surprising choice, and I have my fair share of critics out there. I know I’m not perfect. I wanted said yes to The Bachelor for the chance of finding love and to find someone I could spend the rest of my life with. After speaking with my pals, I knew all I could do was be myself. I wouldn’t be the Perfect Ben or a Prince Farming and certainly had no chance at being like Sean. But I felt good about the fact that whether people supported me or not — no one was going to think I wasn’t coming into this without my flaws. I felt supported and certain that to have this work for me, I was going to be open, honest and put my heart on the line.

I hardly remember speaking with Chris Harrison outside the mansion I was so excited. I mean, by now you all must think this is so normal for me. But being on the other side of things is a completely different experience. All I kept thinking was, Will the women like me? Will I meet the one? Will Chris ever go away so I can start meeting them?! Thinking back to this night on Andi Dorfman’s season, I remembered being so nervous. So, going into that evening my focus was to make sure that the women felt comfortable and confident and hopefully that would lead to a really positive season.

Meeting the Ladies
I guess I should have prepared myself for the runner-up jokes, but to be honest these ladies killed it. I thought Sarah jogging up to me was super clever, and while Josephine’s hot dog has left a taste that still lingers in my mouth all these months later, I thought it was hilarious. I took comfort in the fact that while Taylor’s friends think I’m terrible, at least she was willing to give me a shot. I was blown away with Astrid and Vanessa speaking other languages and found it super sexy. There were dancers, beautiful smiles, cunning remarks and a camel.

I think back to Ida Marie’s trust fall. As cheesy as it sounds, these women were trusting in me and in this journey. Those first introductions were so amazing, and watching it all over again in the episode is so fun and brings back some awesome memories. I thought back to when I came out of the limo myself and wished I had come up with something more memorable. Don’t get me wrong, every woman in that 30 was beautiful and intriguing, but it was the big gestures that caught my attention and left a mark on who they were. My advice for future Bachelorettes and Bachelors is to make those introductions out of the limo memorable! Everyone loves a good laugh or interesting spark.

RELATED VIDEO: Find Out What Grade Olivia Caridi & Bob Guiney Gave Nick Viall’s First Episode as The Bachelor

Twenty-nine of those introductions were some of the best I’ve had in my life. And yet there was one woman, Liz, who I’d met prior to the show. When she stepped out of the limo I was in utter shock. I had no idea that she was planning on coming, and I hadn’t spoken with her in about nine months. I was eager to speak with her and had a ton of questions.

Once I sat down with Liz, our conversation was confusing almost immediately. I was caught off guard when she started talking to me as if we had never met. With the understanding that everyone was there with at least an open heart to the possibility of finding love, it didn’t make sense to me that Liz would think I wouldn’t remember who she was, but at the same time, still think I was someone that she might fall in love with.

Then there was the obvious question of why would she show up now when she could have asked Jade for my number. Unfortunately, we could not finish our conversation, not without making sure I would be able to sit down with as many women as possible. Despite my conversation raising more questions than answers, I decided to give Liz a rose. The night of Jade and Tanner’s wedding was great, and this was a girl that I was once intrigued by when we first met. I also considered the fact that Liz must have been very nervous and I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to at least have the chance to finish that conversation with Liz before I made any drastic decisions regarding our relationship.

The 29 Other Women
I still had 29 other women who put their lives on hold for me, and I owed it to them not to let my confusion regarding Liz consume my thoughts all night. As flattered as I was to have 30 women show up to meet me, things got overwhelming — and fast. These women were beautiful and intelligent, and I became nervous I couldn’t give them the best version of me. It was really intimidating to get to know so many women with the time restriction of one night before the first rose ceremony. The hardest part of that evening was making sure I was having meaningful conversations that were more than just a couple minutes. I appreciated all the women willing to try and make time while also understanding that there was only one of me to go around. Watching the episode makes it hard to see women like Jasmine having a difficult time. I know how hard it is to be on that side of things, and I completely understand how it can make anyone emotional.

There certainly were a handful of memorable conversations, but none was quite as entertaining as the one I had with Alexis. Truthfully, it was hard to know what exactly Alexis looked like with the costume covering pretty much her entire face. Still, I loved the fact that she committed to keeping it on and having fun with it. It takes a lot of guts to show up wearing that thing and owning it the entire night. The fact that she stubbornly insisted that she wasn’t a shark but a dolphin only added to the charm of it.

On an evening that can come with a lot of anxiety and nerves it was nice to have Alexis keep it light for everyone. I don’t think she knew it but there were a handful times when I was walking into another conversation with a woman where I’d catch her in the corner of my eye dancing, swimming or catching snacks in her mouth. It was awesome.

RELATED VIDEO: See How Nick Viall Reacts to the Woman in the Shark Costume and Stilettos on The Bachelor

Corinne was a woman who certainly brought her confidence that night. When she came back for a second conversation, I was a little surprised but at the same time I respected the assertiveness. When I realized that Corinne came back to grab that first kiss I was pretty nervous about it. Out of respect for the other women I didn’t want to do it in a place where they could see, but at the same time I didn’t want to make Corinne feel uncomfortable or regret taking a chance. But I decided it was as good of a time as any to grab that first kiss with a very beautiful woman. I appreciated Corinne being confident enough to take a chance and put her relationship with me above everything else.

Danielle M.
There was something about Danielle M. that made me know almost immediately that she was a great woman. To work as a neonatal nurse takes a certain kind of person. I could feel that Danielle exuded kindness, patience and had the qualities I would want in a partner. I also found out we grew up only a few towns over from one another. I found a familiarity with her while also leaving our conversation wanting to get to know her so much more.

I would hand out a lot of roses that night but before I got to the rose ceremony, I had to first decide who I would be giving the First Impression Rose to and was curious as to how I would decide who to give the rose to. I suppose I was hoping that it would almost seem obvious to me — someone would just stand out and I would feel like there was an obvious choice, and that’s kind of how it happened.

I had so many wonderful conversations that night and there was no shortage of great first impressions. I certainly felt the chemistry that Vanessa felt between us, Alexis had me laughing out loud, Corinne held nothing back and Danielle L. was gorgeous in that dress. Despite all that, the connection I had with Rachel felt unlike any other that evening.

It was crazy just how easy it was to be myself around Rachel. As clichéd as it sounds, it was like we had known one another for years, but she still took my breath away. I know what it’s like to receive that First Impression Rose, having gotten it from Andi. And as great a feeling as it was, there is no denying it came with a little target on my back. I felt confident that Rachel had the maturity and class to handle all that came with receiving that first rose.

Rose Ceremony
As the night was coming to an end I could feel the anxiety around the house. I still had four women (Jamie, Dominique, Elizabeth B. and Christina) that I hadn’t had the chance to speak with when Chris Harrison pulled me for the rose ceremony. I decided I was going to give roses to the four women I hadn’t been able to speak with. It felt wrong to make any decision regarding those women without talking with them. Astrid was right; it felt almost impossible to feel completely confident in any of my decisions with such little time with each of the women. I had to trust my gut and follow my heart. I focused on the thought that if there was any part of me that was willing to say goodbye now, then that person wouldn’t be the one for me.

Next week kicks off the first week of dates. And trust me, the drama unfolds almost immediately. I’m sure you’re all wondering what happens with Liz. All I can say is I never thought my first week would have me so anxious because of someone from my past. There are some shocking revelations and more unanswered questions. But you’ll have to tune in and see for yourselves. You won’t want to miss next week, I promise.

I started this journey with the hope I would find a love that could last forever, a love that was returned and a love that I’ve never felt before. Throughout the season I questioned if I could find that. There are tears, heartbreak and more drama than I imagined. But where I stand today, I am a man who knows he never gave up.

Thanks for reading,

The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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