Clare Crawley Reveals How She Blew Up The Bachelorette: 'I Didn't Let Anybody Tell Me What to Do'

Clare Crawley did The Bachelorette her way, and she's proud of it.

Crawley, 39, opened up about how she "blew up" the reality dating series on the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast to hosts and former Bachelorette leads Rachel Lindsay and Becca Kufrin.

(A source previously told PEOPLE that Crawley left abruptly mid-season after falling for one of her suitors. The trailer for the season, which premiered Tuesday night, hints at the shakeup, as one scene shows a contestant wondering, "I don't know how you can be so sure so quick." PEOPLE has reported that Crawley will be replaced by Tayshia Adams, who appeared on season 23 of The Bachelor and on Bachelor in Paradise.)

Of her explosive season, Crawley told Lindsay and Kufrin: "I said what I wanted to say, and I did what I wanted to do."

"I followed my gut," Crawley continued, adding, "I didn't let anybody tell me what to do because I know what's best for myself."

Looking back, Crawley has "no regrets."

"I wasn't talked into or even encouraged to do something that I didn't want to do and I think that goes far in the world of The Bachelor because in the past, I think people always wonder, 'Did producers make you do this?' Never once did I do something that I didn't want to do. This was I guess the season to do things my way."

"I am very happy," Crawley said. "But, I was happy going into this and I'm happy now."

While it's clear this season is unlike any of the others, Crawley told Lindsay, 35, and Kufrin, 30, that there are still a lot of surprises in store.

"I've heard some of the rumors, and I'm like, let them spin around because there's so much that happens. People think that they know what's going on, [but they don't]," Crawley teased.

Nonetheless, Crawley is feeling as proud as ever.

"This is something — that you guys know — I've been waiting for my whole life," Crawley said of finding love.

"It's so incredibly challenging and exhausting to go through this process, emotionally and physically," Crawley explained, adding that being able to come "out on the other end and say I did that for myself" is something she's extremely excited about.

Crawley said that during her time on the show, she shared intimate parts of her life that she had not publicly disclosed before.

"It was really cathartic," Crawley said.

The reality star also explained that up until she met her suitors at the sequestered "bubble" at the La Quinta Resort in the California desert, she kept telling herself: "Is this even going to happen?"

"It's literally when I was standing in that moment that I was like, 'Okay, this is happening.' It was just a thankful moment of gratitude, all that production and what everybody went through to make this happen for me. Even the guys showing up for me, for this chance. It was overwhelming but I had so much gratitude for it," Crawley added.

After a months-long delay to due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, fans finally got to see Crawley begin her Bachelorette journey on Tuesday night's two-our season premiere. When the contestants made their entrances, Crawley was most captivated by Dale Moss, a 31-year-old former NFL player from Brandon, South Dakota.

"I knew it," Clare said, burying her face in his hands as he walked away. "I definitely feel like I just met my husband. I'm shaking!"

Dale went on to earn the first impression rose.

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

Catch People (the TV Show!) Monday through Friday. Check your local listings for exact times or stream the show every day at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT at People.com and PeopleTV.com.

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