Craig Sjodin/ABC
May 19, 2015 12:50 PM

Britt Nilsson charmed her way into the hearts of the Bachelor Nation – and nearly the Bachelor himself, Chris Soules, on season 19 of The Bachelor. Now Britt hopes to begin her own journey to love as the next Bachelorette.

I am still not quite sure if this is all a dream. There’s a part of me that is still waiting to wake up to my life back to normal waiting tables, sitting in traffic, talking with my girlfriends about life and love. There’s another, more analytical part of me that is processing the fact that my life has definitely changed forever. No turning back.

Looking back on that first night, I was excited and honored, nervous and overwhelmed, self-conscious and confident all at the same time. I still feel all of those emotions. And while I know that everything happens for a reason, and I wasn’t standing outside that mansion by mistake, I remember that I couldn’t stop asking myself the same question over and over in my mind: Will I stay and find love – or leave brokenhearted?

The season before, when I was on The Bachelor, I went in open but came out broken. My intentions were pure, and my heart was ready, but, when I left the show, my character was questioned and I found myself at a loss for words as I watched. The prospect of competing for love again was, as Kaitlyn had put it, “not ideal.” The fear of further rejection or misunderstanding lurked in the back of my mind – but louder than my fears, I heard a resounding “yes.” Yes, this was the next step. Yes, this was where I was supposed to be. Yes, this was the chance of a lifetime to find love and happiness with a soul mate. I couldn’t help but allow the excitement of that possibility to overtake me. I had to try again. How could I not?

For weeks, I remember my emotions vacillating between extreme optimism and momentary dread. Waking up with confidence, I would feel insecurity creeping in and stealing my joy by the afternoon, and back and forth again. Thankfully, as the first night slowly approached, I remember a sense of peace coming over me one night while I prayed – a distinct shift into a radically different perspective. The apprehension and questioning gave way to a realization that whatever was truly best would happen, and so the outcome was not only out of my control but going to be inevitably good – no matter what. This was something bigger than either of us, and I could ease up and walk through this process with freedom. I’d have to just let go and enjoy the ride. I felt released, happy and finally ready. I would only be the Bachelorette if my husband was in that group of men, and, if Kaitlyn’s was, then she would. It was all very simple, but, as I would find out, not necessarily easy.

Most of that day before the first night was spent being dressed and made up by a brilliant team of stylists, which was humbling to say the very least. This look was a far cry from the chipped nails, tennis shoes and T-shirts I usually bum around in. I secretly kept waiting for someone to tell me this was all a big joke and I would have to go home soon. So far no one had, so I sat with my hair curled, my makeup done and my head spinning as I waited for the limo to arrive. I knew that somewhere, Kaitlyn was going through the same process and probably feeling the same anticipation and bewilderment. Unfortunately, our chances of going on and completing the season were mutually exclusive, so I wondered how this night would ultimately end for each of us.

RELATED: The Bachelorette Premiere Recap: Highlights from Britt and Kaitlyn’s First Night with Their 25 Suitors

To be honest, the entire evening was mostly a fantastic blur. I specifically remember the surreal moment that our limos pulled up to the mansion. I had recollections of my first encounter there with Chris Soules (nervous heavy breathing included), and couldn’t believe that I would now be the one greeting potential partners. I saw Kaitlyn, who looked stunning, and Chris Harrison, who looked like, well, Chris Harrison – always with his mix of serenity, familiarity and a little mischief. I felt ready but all too sure that we were in for a surprise (or two or 10).

Chris informed us that we would be standing side by side, which is not awkward at all … right?! So there we stood, side by side, waiting with hearts pounding for the first limo to arrive. There were a million and one thoughts running through my head, but I’ll try to spit them out as they come back to me. In no particular order, I recall:

Shawn E.

Hot-tub car. I mean, come on! That was actually impressive to me, not so much because it made me think anyone driving it would make a particularly good husband but because I am amazed that we are living in a time and place where someone not only thinks of but physically creates something that ridiculous, awesome and unnecessary.

Ben H.

Ben got out of the limo early and immediately made me feel very comfortable and safe. He told me he was aware of some of the children that I sponsor and correspond with, and he suggested we write a letter to a sponsored child of his own. It felt good to know that he not only had learned about me and my passions beforehand, but also that he shared the same enthusiasm for helping others. That is exactly the heart I am looking for in a man, especially in a father and husband. And, hey, being cute never hurts.

Tony

I feel almost patronizing saying this, but I sincerely liked Tony’s “energy.” I definitely could tell that Tony was a deep and compassionate individual. We didn’t get into very much detail about his exact methods of meditation or healing, but I was impressed that he is driven to help people and learn about himself. Anyone trying to self-improve and better understand how they relate to the world they live in is immediately attractive to me. Though I never did get the story on that black eye!

Chris

The cupcake car was just so much yes. If a guy can laugh at himself (which he definitely has to when his head is the cherry on a giant cupcake), that’s a great sign. Also, his smile didn’t bother me … at all.

Britt Nilsson on The Bachelorette
Rick Rowell/ABC

Brady

Brady had an effortless charm about him. I detected a slight accent, which I love, and a peacefulness that was magnetic. His story about leaving his professional baseball career to become a Christian musician was absolutely intriguing to me because my faith is the center of my life. We had a very intense moment of connection, and I felt really excited about the possibility of finding someone with the same core values. I left that conversation wishing it had gone on a little longer, which I suppose is a very good problem to have.

Ryan M.

Somebody get this guy some water. And an attitude check. And maybe a part as the drunk guy in a college frat movie – he might actually have something going for him if he’s given the chance to shine in the right role!

Jonathan

I liked Jonathan right away. I liked him to the point that my neck got warm and I couldn’t make myself say anything intelligible, only anxiously listen to my own voice stumbling through embarrassing half sentences. I had absolutely no coolness or game with that guy. He’s from Detroit, has a son, tattoos, a beautiful face and a lot of personality. Yup. Gooood one.

Justin

Sweet, funny, personable. It takes a real man to bring balloons to a party. (Side note: Kaitlyn and I gave the helium a try, and we’re thinking of starting a Chipmunk cover band. Out on iTunes soon.)

RELATED: Kaitlyn Bristowe’s Bachelorette Premiere Blog: ‘Going Home Was Not an Option’

Overall, the night was a roller coaster. Am I the first person from the Bachelor franchise to say that? I really felt open and was surprisingly able to establish solid foundations with many of the men, considering the circumstances. I was proud of them for being vulnerable and present; it really seemed like they were giving it everything they had. Just as I felt like I was getting a clearer picture of who each one was, Chris Harrison announced that the voting would be taking place. As the energy in the room shifted, I could see the reality of the situation setting in. No one wanted to make the wrong decision, and the stakes were officially set.

As the men filtered in and out to vote, and Kaitlyn and I tried to reach out to the men we hadn’t spoken with, the gravity of the impending deadline set in. We were no longer able to convince ourselves that we were all just enjoying a cocktail party. The momentum of the evening had turned from fun to dutiful.

As we waited for the men to finish voting, I had to intentionally keep centering my heart and mind on the fact that this was not in my hands. I had tried my best to bare my soul and make the men feel comfortable, to be perceptive and listen, and to be honest and available to them. I knew Kaitlyn was doing the same, so each man’s personal taste was the only thing that would end up making the decision in the end. I still felt like I was supposed to be there, but I also knew that Kaitlyn was more than deserving to be there as well. We were both ready, both fully invested and both unsure of what the next few minutes would tell us about our next few months – and possibly the rest of our lives. Each man that we had only met for a few moments held one bit of our future in their hands.

All we could do was wait … and hope, and pray for fate to step in and lead us all in the right direction.

Britt

RELATED VIDEO: Chris Harrison: ‘The Unchosen Bachelorette Doesn’t Have a Part in the Show but Has a Piece of the Show’

Find out whether Britt will be the next Bachelorette Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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