The Bachelorette star Becca Kufrin reveals her reason for giving Garrett the special rose in an exclusive blog for PEOPLE

Becca Kufrin vied for Arie Luyendyk Jr.s heart on season 8 of The Bachelor. Now, she’s on her own journey to find love on the latest season of The Bachelorette — and she’s blogging about it exclusively for PEOPLE! Follow Becca on Twitter at @thebkoof.

Well, here we are. Season 14 of The Bachelorette, and trust me, I was just as shocked as you were when I was announced as the next lucky lady. I think I’m still in shock as this has truly been the most surreal experience of my life. As most of you already know, I was never originally intended for this “position” due to the (not so) simple fact that I was recently engaged to the latest Bachelor, Arie Luyendyk Jr. Usually the title of Bachelorette goes to the runner-up, or a beloved gal who went through most of the season only to be sent home just a tad bit early, and usually broken-hearted. Instead, I made it all the way. I received that beautiful rose every single week. I was proposed to and accepted an engagement from a man who I, for a fleeting moment, expected to spend my life with.

I came to The Bachelor looking to find the love of my life, and I’m happy to say that I have. I am engaged and in love and excited for the future, but the road to get here is not at all what I expected it to be (understatement of the century). If you would have told me last year when I first stepped out of the limo, I would have probably laughed in your face and asked if you hit your head on something. Because of all I experienced, no one has quite been in my position before, so starting out this time around, I felt a lot of anxiety. The last time I did this I was completely blindsided and heartbroken, all while mascara was smeared across my forehead and snot was running down my face. Note to everyone reading this — stick to waterproof mascara — you never know when those tears will flow.

Becca Kufrin
| Credit: Josh Telles

Starting on this journey was exhilarating and overwhelming, and I knew going into it that I’d be questioned constantly about if I was truly ready. To put this concern to rest before the entire season plays out, let me say on the record that yes, I am ready. I wouldn’t be going through this crazy, unconventional journey again if I didn’t truly think I was willing to give it my all and ready to commit to a lifelong partner. I want a relationship like the one my mom and dad had, what every strong relationship around me looks like, and I wasn’t going to allow past heartbreak to hinder me from finding that.

To officially kick start my journey as Bachelorette, I met with three independent, badass women who knew better than anyone what I was about to embark on: past Bachelorettes Rachel, JoJo and Kaitlyn. These are women who I admire so much, and some of the strongest, most inspiring Bachelorettes I’ve ever seen. Each one had quite a different love story, but each and every one of those girls ended up in a loving, loyal and committed partnership — something I hoped to emulate as well. The girls were kind enough to hang out with me for the afternoon and offer all sorts of insight on what to expect during the long first night and advice on being in this position.

What a great time I had listening to their stories and experiences; the good dates, the bad kissers, and the sometimes ugly truth of breaking hearts. With what began as sage-ing the bad juju out of the mansion, and holding a mock rose ceremony so I didn’t look like a fool when I finally stood in front of all the men that first night to making three new friends, I felt as ready as I’d ever be for that first night. The best bit of advice they offered was to trust myself throughout the journey and listen to my gut, because only I will know what I truly want and need at the end of this. They also sent me off with the knowledge that all three of them gave their first impression rose to the man they ended up with at the end. No pressure, right?!

Becca and Garrett
| Credit: Paul Hebert/ABC

Pulling up to the mansion that evening, the past hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt the same nerves I did during the first night last year. Would someone trip? Would I trip?! Would any of the guys take one look at me and jump back into the limo and screech off? Would I accidentally rip the top strap of my 30-lb dress and give everyone a half-rate show? The menu for potential catastrophes was endless, and I had no idea what was coming. I could only imagine what the guys were feeling.

I remember what it was like to step out of that limo and look at what could be my potential PIC (partner in crime) for life. Nervous with anticipation is the best way to describe it, so I could really empathize with all these guys who were about to do the same. When I came up the driveway last year I remember being shocked by how real it all became when I laid eyes on Arie. I thought to myself, “Oh man, what did I just get myself in to?!” There was so much happening around me and I honestly blacked out because “let’s do the damn thing” was never intended to come out of my mouth — it really did just slip, and now, it has stuck. Side note: I’s definitely time to retire those five words for the sake of everyone’s ears. Besides, at this point, I’ve done the damn thing.

As the limos started arriving and the guys came pouring out, I was blown away by how sincere (and handsome) everyone seemed. Yes, I could definitely feel the nerves and pick up on the anxious energy, but each guy really did something to standout in my mind and put a smile on my face. And as nervous as I was, all I wanted to do was make them feel comfortable in the sea of chaos. And chaos it was! I feel like I really experienced everything in those introductions. Blake, who I’d met on After the Final Rose, rode up on an ox! Then Connor pulled a “Becca” and got down on one knee (you’re welcome for the material, Connor), and one brave soul jumped out of a hearse! I mean, props to Trent for being willing to get in that thing! But really, since a season isn’t complete without a costume, out clucked a chicken, aka David. Each man kept me laughing or intrigued, but one of my favorite entrances was Chris R.’s gospel choir. Music is a big part of my life, and Sister Act 2 is only the best movie of all time, so it was the perfect combo of my favorites in one. Also — am I the only person wondering how that entire choir fit into one limo?!

Once in the mansion, I greeted the guys, and trust me, there is nothing quite like walking into a room full of men with their eyes all fixated on you. I felt so out of my element but secretly loved it. I was living my best life in that moment, because deep down I feel like I just knew standing there — that this whole thing would work this time.

RELATED VIDEO: Becca Kufrin Sends Home Contestant Jake Before the Rose Ceremony

As the night really took off, I felt like I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off (no offense, David). But with each conversation, I felt open and hopeful to what the future would hold. Every guy showed me a brief insight into who they are and why they came on this journey. What was my favorite part? The fact that I was able to meet 28 guys from all over the country who I probably would never meet in my “normal” life, and that was something so special and thrilling.

I had some of the most interesting interactions throughout the night. Christon really had my heart racing when he dunked over me. I mean I’m 5’7 and with heels I may as well be 6 feet tall, that guy can really get air! Nick made me laugh when he tried to help me relax with his back massager, though I don’t know if relaxed is the best way to describe it. Clay was so endearing when he pulled me aside to make clay figures to help me remember his name. Blake was so easy to be around and made me feel like I really found someone on my same wavelength. And I just had to get to the bottom of the real mystery: Where was he getting all these animals!

Though the evening had a ton of highs, there were also some unexpected lows. I wasn’t expecting too much drama for the first night, but apparently it seemed to follow me around like a shadow.

First, there was Jake from Minneapolis. Now, contrary to what Jake remembers, he and I have met several times and we run in the same circles (Minneapolis isn’t the biggest city). But I’d at least like to think that he’d remember me even just a little bit! And if I was so unmemorable in a small group of people, then why now? Is it because I’m the Bachelorette? These are the questions I hate to ask myself, but have to.

Because I didn’t want to start off the first night questioning any man’s motives, I decided to send him home early even before the rose ceremony. While I’m 100 percent certain I made the right choice to do it then and there, it was more difficult than I initially thought to send someone home, especially early. I knew it would only get harder as the night and weeks wore on.

The drama continued with Chase and Chris R. Now if I’m being completely honest, I still don’t know the full extent of the issue, but it’s a lot of he said he said going on. I was dizzy listening to Chase scramble to explain himself, and I don’t know the whole story, but it had the distinct rhythm and cadence of BS. In my mind, I had a great group of guys who I felt were here to really want to get to know me, so I didn’t feel the need to keep someone around who was already laced with drama. To be blunt, I wanted to shed the fat as quickly as possible.

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After all that crazy drama, I knew the first impression rose was on the table for one lucky guy. Making that decision wasn’t as easy as I thought, I had just met so many amazing suitors. A majority of the guys could have received that rose in their own right, but I really wanted it to go to someone special and who not only made the night fun, but who I could potentially see a growing relationship. After Garrett’s clever and charming entrance, fly-fishing and easy conversation, I knew he’d be someone I hoped would be around for a while. I understood that with issuing this rose, Garrett might have a small target on his back. But I figured he’d be chummy enough with the guys to navigate any initial jealously that may arise. And plus, I kind of wanted to see his big smile again. [Editor’s Note: Garrett has since come under fire after allegedly liking offensive posts on Instagram that mock the trans community, a Parkland high school shooting survivor, undocumented immigrants and more. Neither Becca nor ABC has commented.)

Heading into my very first rose ceremony I was more apprehensive than I could have every anticipated. Besides the fact that all I could think of was “don’t trip, Becca. Don’t trip!,” I realized that being on this side of the ceremony is much harder than being on the receiving end. Being the Bachelorette holds a lot of pressure, especially on this first night since I was making my decision solely based on first impressions. This decision held a lot of weight and I wanted to make sure I could find my lifetime partner in the group of guys who I was choosing to continue my journey with.

It wasn’t easy sending six guys home, and I felt terrible for the men who left that first night because I know how scary it to step away from your day-to-day life to go on this crazy journey to try to find your person. To Grant, Christian, Darius, Joe, Chase, Kamil, and Jake — thank you for putting your heart on the line and jumping head first into this journey with me.

That first night was long but a worthwhile whirlwind, and after a long night I left the mansion in my joggers and slippers layered under my dress (and of course my main necessity, the robe) and anticipated a long-awaited nap. With night one in the books, I eagerly await you all seeing what the first week of dates brings. You’ll see a few familiar faces on my first group date that may leave you feeling nostalgic. It’s one laced with quite a bit of drama that quickly left me questioning if this journey would work out for me. I also have my absolute favorite date of all time that unfortunately led to something shattered. Is it my heart? You’ll have to tune in next week to find out. As for the rest of the journey, well let’s just say I can relate to Arie more than I ever expected. When it comes to matters of the heart, love isn’t always so simple. And speaking of Arie, he comes back into my life in the most unexpected way that changes both of our lives forever.

I know the five words are retired but maybe one more time, and slightly different, for the road – I did the damn thing.

The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.