"I wanted to write something that matters, something raw and honest," the reality star tells PEOPLE

By Benjamin VanHoose
September 21, 2020 12:33 PM
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Ben Higgins is opening up about his "deep fear" of rejection in his new book.

Debuting the cover of his upcoming book exclusively with PEOPLE on Monday, the Bachelor alum, 31, shared details of Alone in Plain Sight: Searching for Connection When You’re Seen and Not Known — and why it's not exactly a Bachelor Nation tell-all.

"Most people who hear that I’m releasing a book probably expect it to be a Bachelor 'tell-all,' but I couldn’t bring myself to do that for my first book. It would be too easy!" Higgins tells PEOPLE. "I wanted to write something that matters, something raw and honest, and nothing matters more to me than addressing something I’ve felt deep down my entire life."

He continues, "This book is for those of us, myself included, who struggle with life’s disappointments and unanswerable questions ... to try and help all of us who are feeling isolated and misunderstood to realize that we’re not alone in these feelings."

Higgins, who headlined season 20 of The Bachelor in 2016, explains that his goal with the book (out Feb. 2, 2021) is to connect through inspirational stories of "shared pain and suffering."

"Alone in Plain Sight isn’t just a bunch of meaningless clichés or platitudes. Ever since opening up about my feelings of not belonging on national television, strangers share their personal struggles with me all of the time," says Higgins. "I’ve found that one of the strongest connections we can make is through shared pain and suffering."

"But I’ve also learned that our hardest moments can be opportunities for major growth," he continues. "I truly believe that the stories shared in my book will connect us all, help us to learn more about ourselves, and hope that we can all discover the true story of us."

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Higgins says he's harbored a "deep fear of being rejected" since childhood. "For most of my life, I’ve felt like an outsider, like the kid who never gets invited to the party but is stuck looking in through the window while everyone else has a great time without me," he explains. "Even though most people know me from my time on The Bachelor (and things I’ve done since), I’ve had a deep fear of being rejected since I was a little kid. And I didn’t even really know it."

The reality star adds that "life is better when we reconnect with others in a meaningful way."

"For anyone who has felt alone, isolated, misunderstood, disconnected, and hurt … you are not alone," says Higgins. "Alone in Plain Sight is for all of us who have felt like we do not belong, and argue that through our shared pains, stories and struggles we are more connected than ever before."

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In March, Higgins proposed to fiancée Jessica Clarke. The couple started dating in 2018 after he slid into her DMs on Instagram. The former Bachelor previously revealed that Clarke hasn't watched his season of the reality show — and she doesn't intend to.

"I don't see the benefit [of her watching] and I don't think she does either," he told Entertainment Tonight in June. "I think the cons far outweigh the pros. I think there would be a chance where even though I have no fear that it would end our relationship, I think that the small moments of watching me pursue and encourage and kiss other people might be the closest thing to, like, heartbreak that she's felt romantically and I don't want be a part of that and she doesn't want to be a part of that."

"So, no, she's not watching," he added at the time. "She doesn't plan on watching ever, and I'm pretty okay with it."