Taylor Nolan, a young mental-health counselor from Seattle, talks about the drama and tears of her time on “The Bachelor,” an often overwhelming little world where she challenged herself “to be open and honest and transparent in this very specific environment.”

Share story

Women will walk up to Taylor Nolan in bars and not even introduce themselves before making their allegiances clear.

“(Expletive) Corinne,” they’ll say. “(Expletive) her.”

Nolan, a 23-year-old mental-health counselor, is learning to take such encounters in stride. She is back in Seattle after a stint on the most recent season of “The Bachelor,” during which she locked horns with an aggressive blonde from Miami named Corinne, got sent home for being too educated, and watched camera hound Nick Viall get on bended knee for a woman named Vanessa.

To me, girl dodged a bullet. You applied, you got on, you spent five weeks of your life in a mansion in Agoura Hills, California, watching one guy kiss and coo his way through 30 women. Take your dignity and your therapy license and make a break for it.

It isn’t that easy, Nolan told me the other day.

“Even though the show has finished, there’s so much to process,” she said. “It feels like I survived something, like I made it through a weird social experiment.

“I’ve been so sucked into ‘Bachelor’ world; it takes you out of normal life for a little bit. And only people who have experienced it get what you’re going through.”

I’m no member of the “Bachelor Nation,” but after 21 seasons, you have to appreciate the show’s pop-culture pull.

And yet, I always saw the show as a step backward for women. The way they ran — ran! — toward a complete stranger in a pack, then went on to scheme and stress over his attention, his approval, a freaking rose. Getting one meant they got to watch the other survivors date — and suck face with — the same guy they considered their “boyfriend.” Ew.

Why live the reality-show version of a Sadie Hawkins Dance where all you do is play musical chairs?

Viewers need to keep things in perspective, Nolan said. Producers strive to grab our attention and keep us talking.

Hence the drama, the tears and bad-girl Corinne’s bikini-top removal. Much was made about Nolan questioning Corinne’s lack of “emotional intelligence.” And in the end, well, Viall turned out to be a bit of a tool.

“When he would reward (Corinne’s) behavior,” Nolan said, “I would remember I was on a reality show. She was playing a part that she played very well. So I get it.

“What they didn’t show was the relationships that form away from the context of Nick finding love. There’s a lot of girls supporting girls that did not make air.”

So when a woman was sent packing, the tears weren’t because they were heartbroken, Nolan said.

“They’re sad because out of nowhere, they’re getting dropped and they had to say goodbye to all of us.”

Besides, she said: “You’re not damaged goods if the connection isn’t there.”

Nolan applied to be on the show after her stepfather came back from a Mariners game saying there had been something on the big screen about auditions.

“Why not put myself out there and see what happens?” she recalled, saying she was inspired by self-help author Brené Brown, whose work celebrates vulnerability and “daring greatly.”

“It was mainly to challenge myself,” Nolan said of signing up for the show. “To be open and honest and transparent in this very specific environment.”

She went onto the ABC website, uploaded her basics and a photo. Producers called the next day. At a casting event at Pacific Place, the director pulled her out of a long line of women. “Taylor?”

“I thought, ‘Oh, this may actually be a thing.’ ”

She was flown to Los Angeles for an on-camera interview, a psychological assessment and to meet the producers. Things were moving quickly. Too quickly.

“I absolutely wanted to run,” she said. “So much is out of your control. So much is unknown.”

All the while, she kept pursuing her private practice by getting her license and setting up her website.

“I was pretending it maybe wasn’t going to happen.”

But it did, and suddenly she was in a mansion in Agoura Hills with 30 other women. She spent five weeks with no television, phone or music — and no paycheck. (Another not-so-fun fact: They do their own hair and makeup, and the clothes are theirs.)

“There were all these girls trying to make a connection with (Viall),” she said. “There were so many moving pieces. It was overwhelming.”

She never knew what each day would bring.

“There was no other routine,” she said, “other than waking up in the morning and putting a mic on.”

In that sense, being sent home was a relief. Nolan put herself out there.

She’s since gotten involved with a group called Runway to Freedom, which helps victims of domestic violence, and may partner with another “Bachelor” alum to do empowerment workshops.

There’s also a chance she might be cast on “Bachelor in Paradise” — a sort of island of oversexed “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” rejects that will air this summer.

“I don’t know,” Nolan said. “It’s a lot to consider. I’m trying to be compassionate toward myself. This is my year of backpacking through Europe.

“It’s just ‘Bachelor’ land instead of Europe.”

Any advice for Nick and Vanessa, the don’t-look-so-happy couple?

“Go to therapy.”