May 24, 2017 03:50 PM


Rachel Lindsay is taking the lessons she learned from her Fantasy Suite experience on The Bachelor and applying it her own journey as the The Bachelorette‘s leading lady.

“When it comes to the Fantasy Suite, when I was on Nick [Viall]‘s season, I said I wasn’t going to do it,” Lindsay, 32, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. “One, because I didn’t think I’d make it that far — but by the time I got there, my feelings for Nick were strong. I was falling in love with him. For me, that private time was really important to see if what we had was the same on camera as it was off.”

Ari Michelson

“So, coming into my journey and doing The Bachelorette, that’s exactly what I’m going to expect,” she continues. “So if I move forward with it, it’ll be the person that I want to see if they are the same off camera — who I want that extended time and more conversation with.”

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Whether or not Bachelor Nation fans will see Lindsay embrace the Fantasy Suite dates this season, one thing’s for sure: She did find her happily ever after.

“I absolutely fell in love! I definitely did. I’m very, very happy,” she says. “I can’t wait for you to see how it plays out, cause I’m definitely engaged! I want to scream it, every time I say it.”

“I really do think I found my forever love,” she continues. “No, I don’t think — I know. He knows too.”

  • For more from Rachel Lindsay about her journey to find a husband, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

And after being named the first black Bachelorette in the history of the franchise, Lindsay admits there’s added pressure that comes with the title.

“There’s going to be a lot of judgment, and I can’t please everyone,” she says. “I thought to myself, ‘Do I really want to do that? Do I want to take on that challenge?’ — and I’m not one to run away from a challenge — so why not challenge myself and have the opportunity to get exactly what it is that I want for myself?”

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

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