"We both understood so many things about each other without having to necessarily talk about those things," the elementary school teacher tells PEOPLE

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After bringing her Bachelorette journey to her native Minnesota in last week's episode, Michelle Young felt especially close with fellow Minnesotan and former basketball player Joe Coleman.

"We both understood so many things about each other without having to necessarily talk about those things because of how we were raised, because of the basketball community, because we had similar passions," Young, 28, tells PEOPLE. "And so that's somebody who I felt just understood a piece of me that none of the other guys did."

JOE COLEMAN, MICHELLE YOUNG
Credit: Craig Sjodin via Getty

Young also used her time in Minnesota to weed out some men with whom she didn't see a future, like Chris Sutton, who interrupted her one-on-one date with Nayte Olukoya to warn her about the 27-year-old sales executive.

"I am so anti-drama," the elementary school teacher says. "And I think sometimes people's response is, 'Okay, so if you're so anti-drama, why did you go on a reality TV show to find love?' But what I will tell you is that, if you place somebody in the middle of something where a lot of drama takes place naturally, you learn a lot about a person. You see people's true colors."

"And I was able to make quick decisions because of the environment that we were in and see how they handled themselves during uncomfortable situations and see which ones were able to squash issues, which ones were able to have conversations in a productive manner," she continues.

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For anyone surprised to see Martin Gelbspan stick around after his comments to Young about "high maintenance" women, she calls the fitness trainer, 29, "somebody who I have a strong connection with" and wanted to give him more time.

"I always wanted to make sure that I had enough time to ask the questions that I wanted to ask and have the conversations that I wanted to have," Young explains. "And it's really hard also because you don't know each other on an extremely deep level. There's just not enough time. You have a deep connection, but sometimes you just need more time. And with that, I wanted to think through that conversation and then approach it at a later time."

MICHELLE YOUNG, MARTIN
Credit: Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

Heading into the second half of her journey, Young teases that some of her remaining men will "really give me a new perspective on some things."

"I think they just helped me really feel like I was on the right path in life," she continues. "And not that I necessarily needed that validation, but to be able to be yourself — 100 percent organically yourself — and to have it respected and appreciated is going to give you confidence. The fact that so many of these guys respected that really stood out to me."

Being truly herself also meant being open with her suitors about her experience as a woman of color.

"In a past relationship, I had experiences where I wasn't able to be fully myself, and I think with this, I wanted to make sure that I challenged myself to ask the hard questions, even if I was afraid of the response," Young says. "I wanted to make sure these guys truly knew how I got to the point that I have come to, and in order to do that, you have to talk about what you've been through; That means you're talking about the happy times, that means you're talking about the painful times. And so with me asking the men to be vulnerable, I also have to follow suit and make sure that I'm doing the same with them."

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Young can't share exactly how her season will end, but "I'm in a good spot right now," she says. "I wanted to make sure that regardless of how I come out on the end of this is that I wanted to come out a better person, that I stayed true to who I was, that I didn't have regrets because I stayed true to who I was. And I feel like I made that happen."

The Bachelorette airs Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.