Rick Rowell—ABC/Getty Images
February 28, 2017 8:00 AM EST

For years, applying to The Bachelor was my fantasy fallback plan — a joke I’d tell my co-workers and parents during a dating dry-spell. Even though I’d never even watched a full episode or wouldn’t recognize the contestants if I bumped into them on the street, the show was the guilty pleasure I wish I had time to indulge in.

I have no qualms admitting I want to be in a relationship. For me, conventional dating hasn’t been a Tinder-fueled nightmare, but I haven’t found someone who sticks. I’ve dated men who treat me well and a couple who haven’t. But after my last relationship ran its course, I decided to put myself out there — really out there. I applied to be a contestant on The Bachelor.

At first, the process was surprisingly straight-forward: Fill out a six-page form — of which half was background check information — find the best looking pictures of myself possible and film a short video.

There were, of course, questions about what I was looking for in a relationship, and why I wanted to find it on a show. And then the classic request: List three adjectives that describe you. Cue Thesaurus.com. (I settled on saucy, cheeky and dynamic).

Soon, all of my colleagues became involved in the process, including my boss. If I was applying for The Bachelor, I might as well go all-in. I typed up a rough draft of the application for everyone to proofread. I printed out an excess amount of photos of me, laid them out on the conference room table and asked people to vote for their favorite. We set up meetings dedicated to making me seem perfect. I created a cover for my application featuring a solo picture of me holding a champagne flute and adorned each photo with cute descriptions and decorative tape.

Then I set out to create the perfect video. My anxiety was through the roof. What should I wear? Will I sound natural? How do I stand out from the rest?

I kicked off the video by popping a bottle of champagne and toasting to the next season of The Bachelor. Or at least that’s what I intended to do. After a failed attempt to pop the bottle, I turned to the fridge, cracked a beer and got things rolling. At least I kept things real.

We filmed in my apartment, on my rooftop deck and around my neighborhood. We shot at different angles, in different outfits and with a mixture of serious and funny stories. After pouring my heart out, making a fool of myself and laughing uncontrollably, I was ready to edit. I kept all of the parts of me just being myself: complaining about sweating, chugging my beer and even finding an old French fry in the pocket of my romper. (Oops.)

With my limited editing knowledge, I loaded my 15-minute video onto a rose-shaped USB drive and sent my application off to the casting department in Los Angeles. My stress lifted immediately, and it was up to fate to take its course. But something had changed.

It was easy to get caught up in the excitement, silliness and “what-ifs” that might come from applying for the show. But, now that everything was said and done, I realized that it became more of a craft project than a serious endeavor to find love. It made me realize all the amazing things I have to offer, like my willingness to try new things, travel alone and work hard for something I really want. I was also reminded of all the parts and people in my life that make me feel fulfilled on a daily basis. I don’t need someone to swoop in and make me happy — I’m already happy. Still, I want to share my world with someone and become a part of their life too. And applying for The Bachelor forced me to write down the things about myself that I normally wouldn’t say out loud, and by doing so, it empowered me to believe that I am in fact, a catch.

I’m not going to lie. I’ve re-watched my video multiple times with friends, family and just by myself. I’ve witnessed friends cry from laughing too hard and watched my parents cry after listening to me talk about how their love inspires me. And every time I watch, I can’t help but think, “I’d totally pick me!” I’m not ashamed, I was brilliant.

Regardless of what happens next, I’m ready for it. I’m ready to meet the love of my life. I’m ready to go on 10 more first dates. I’m ready to get that final rose. I’m ready to be single. All because now I’m so sure of who I am and what I want, and most importantly, I know my worth. All I had to do was say it out loud.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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