Bachelor Nation is still reverberating from the shock of Clare Crawley's sudden departure from The Bachelorette after she got engaged to contestant Dale Moss — and behind the scenes, new Bachelorette Tayshia Adams was equally surprised by the turn of events.
"I had been in talks prior to be the Bachelorette and I remember how sad I was after I wasn't chosen," Adams, 30, who quarantined while Crawley's season was filming, tells PEOPLE.
"When I got the phone call [from producers], I was like, 'Is this even real?' Nothing was guaranteed. But I also knew that if it was meant to be, it would be and if it wasn't, it wasn't my time," says Adams.
- For more from Tayshia Adams, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
It turns out it was her time, and when Crawley left after two weeks, Adams stepped in, meeting the remaining 16 men in addition to four new contestants.
"Love comes in all different shapes, sizes and shades," says Adams. "So I made sure to be present in every relationship and give every person a chance."
Though initially, Adams says she was concerned that some of the her suitors still had feelings for, or were possibly more interested in, Crawley. "I was worried," she says. "We had to have honest conversations. But the guys reassured me and made me feel good. It wasn't a lingering feeling. I'm honest and open and ready to receive communication."
Indeed, when Jason Foster left after he felt he wasn't ready to open up to Adams, she says she understood. "Selfishly I would have loved to get to know him because he stood out to me, but he had to do what was right for him and I support that."
Ultimately, "I'm happy," says Adams, who is staying mum on how exactly her season played out. "It was a really rewarding experience. I learned a lot and grew a lot. That's all I could ask for."
The Bachelorette airs Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.
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