On Monday's season 21 finale of The Bachelor, Nick Viall chose Vanessa Grimaldi over Raven Gates

By Brianne Tracy
March 13, 2017 10:07 PM
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Raven Gates has no regrets from her time on The Bachelor and is proud of herself for leaving “everything on the table.”

On Monday evening’s season 21 finale of the ABC reality series, audiences watched Bachelor Nick Viall give the final rose to Vanessa Grimaldi — and send runner-up Gates home.

Walking into the final rose ceremony of the season, Gates exclusively tells PEOPLE, “I was pretty confident. I knew that there was a chance that it wouldn’t be me — obviously looking at it realistically there was still another woman there that could be chosen — but I was very optimistic that it was me.”

Though being turned down was a sorrowful moment for the fashion boutique owner, she doesn’t remember the exact moment when she realized Viall wasn’t going to propose because she was “intensely trying to listen at what he was trying to say” and she “really wanted to hear what he had to say and his thoughts on me and our relationship.”

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Credit: ABC/Terhi Tuovinen

Throughout her journey on the show, the 25-year-old Arkansas native was open about having fallen in love with Viall, and has no doubts that her feelings for him were real.

“I definitely felt as though I was in love with him and I really had no doubts or reservations about being engaged to him so I mean I was definitely one hundred percent in the relationship and felt that I was in love with him,” she tells PEOPLE.

Although her time on the show didn’t wrap with the fairy tale ending that she had hoped for with 36-year-old Viall, she says that she was “super realistic” throughout the entire process, which helped her come to peace with the outcome.

“The moment he told me that I wasn’t the one, I accepted it. And I think that’s one of the reasons why I was so emotionless is because I was processing what he was saying,” Gates explains about being turned down by Viall. “I was trying to accept what he was saying and I knew there was nothing I could say to change his mind and I felt I had left everything on the table so there’s nothing I could do differently. … I think as soon as he told me I wasn’t the one I started the healing process right then and there. I accepted it, I didn’t question myself, I was confident in myself.”

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Now that she’s back home in Arkansas, Gates has plugged back into her routine, which she says has helped her move on: “Going home, I just got back in the same routine that I usually am in — working very hard on my business, surrounding myself with family and friends and really just picked up the pieces as soon as I felt broken.”

Since her romance with the man that she loved came to an end, Gates admits that watching the season back on TV “was king of hard,” but she still has “a lot of happy memories associated” with both the process Viall — and wishes him and Grimaldi nothing but happiness.

“I hope everything works out the way that they want it to,” says Gates, who adds, “I hope that Nick gets everything he wants in life. I think he deserves it and I feel like I know him on a really intimate level that I just want everything that he wants in life. I hope all of it comes true, all of his dreams.”

—With NATALIE STONE