Almost two years ago from today, I was packing my suitcases, tying up loose ends with my apartment and scrambling to get as far ahead at work as possible. I was preparing to leave for ABC’s “The Bachelor” – what I considered a simple adventure in dating, one I expected to end with the first rose ceremony. As I said goodbye to my family and friends, my parting words were, “I love you and I’ll see ya in a week!”
Fast forward to today. I was walking to lunch with a co-worker. Along our way we stopped at a street corner to wait for the light to change. In mid-conversation I hear the girl standing next to me shout, “Oh my gosh! You’re Molly! Can I take a picture with you?” (Something I will never get used to!)
To say the past two years have been a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts would be an understatement. Before “The Bachelor,” I was a simple girl who felt blessed to be living with a loving family, enough food, clothing, and opportunity to do all of the things that young women dream of doing.
It was easy then to be aware of exactly who and what I was: Molly from Michigan, who wants to go to college, have a great career, get married, have children, and give back to those less fortunate. I say it was easy because I was dealing only with those negative and counter-productive thoughts that any normal young woman would have. They were simpler to push away, pray away and forget about.
That instantly changed the day I landed in L.A. to begin filming “The Bachelor.” That simple Midwestern girl who used to read People magazine was now in People magazine.
I will never forget the day I saw myself on the cover of the magazine for the first time. It was March 2009 and I was in the airport, so I stopped at Hudson News to pick up a copy. I tried to put my head down as I walked up to the counter because, well, something in me felt strange purchasing a magazine that I was featured on. My under-the-radar tactic lasted all of three seconds until the cashier noticed it was me.
“Molly? Is this you?”
She said it loud enough for everyone in the store to hear, so I was immediately bombarded by strangers asking me to autograph a copy or take a photo with them.
I walked out of the store in complete awe. I had known my life was going to change, but at that moment, it became official. I was shocked that a perfect stranger would recognize my face. I was stunned that someone would get so excited to take a picture with me. This was crazy…but kind of fun!
The perks of being on television were beyond my wildest dreams. We were able to travel to New Zealand, South Africa, and Turks and Caicos. I was a guest on Ellen, Regis & Kelly, Jimmy Kimmel, and Good Morning America. I’ve been able to meet celebrities, skip the line at a club, receive gifts of clothes, bags, shoes, etc. I was living the life of a celebrity.
Tabloid news and gossip mongers
Sure the perks were amazing, and I don’t take a minute of it for granted, but it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies either. I quickly learned that everyone had an opinion about me, whether they knew me or not. I was no longer Molly, the down-to-earth girl from Michigan. I was Molly, the girl from “The Bachelor.” It’s as if I became a character in the general public’s eyes, and my identity as a real person was lost.
No one wanted to hear about the solid relationship Jason and I were building or the charity we were working with. Rather, they wanted to know what I was wearing, how much weight I had gained, or that Jason and I weren’t going to make it. In a matter of minutes, our exciting adventure was overshadowed by hate, superficial judgments, and negativity, and I was starting to lose myself in that fierce disdain.
You may guess the typical response: “You signed up for this, so if you don’t like what comes with the territory, it’s your own fault.” That statement is partly accurate, but when I signed up for “The Bachelor,” I had no idea what was about to come my way. There was no crash course on “What to expect when you’re on TV,” and at that time, I certainly wasn’t aware that stories of failure and conflict sold more magazines than stories of success!
It didn’t take long for the thrill of celebrity to wear off. I got to a point where I became, quite honestly, depressed. I couldn’t understand why all of these people, whom I’ve never met, were judging me. The show was over! Why do they care so much about the fact that I changed the color of my hair or how much time I am or am not spending in Seattle?
I wanted my anonymity back…but it was too late.
I was at a life low, and I didn’t know how to come out of this dark period. I didn’t know what was going to fulfill my life with happiness, and I didn’t know just who Molly was anymore. It was at that point that I had to lean on God for guidance and I prayed every single day. When I did this, I felt safe. I knew I wasn’t going to be judged and I knew that God would help lead me to a better place in life.
A fresh start
I remember it like yesterday when I woke up one random Tuesday morning and declared, “Today is the day! This is the day that I am going to start my life!” I no longer cared that someone I didn’t even know thought my freckles were ugly. It didn’t bother me that US Weekly printed a false story that my relationship was “on the rocks.” I realized that life isn’t about red carpet events, free swag, and magazine covers.
I’ve certainly made some mistakes along the way, but never for a minute will I regret the road I’ve taken.
Throughout this journey I have learned so much about myself and I have found out who Molly is. I have a wonderful husband who I can’t wait to grow old with, a family who loves me (even when I make mistakes), friends who support me through the good and the bad, and God, who will point me in the right direction whenever I am lost.
It took a lot of ups and downs to get to this point, but I can honestly say that this crazy path has brought me to the happiest point in my life.