When you’re watching someone on reality TV through a flat screen, you’re watching a one-dimensional version of a real-life human being. During her time on The Bachelor, Taylor Nolan was given a very specific character: the counter to Corinne Olympios, one-half of a feud centering around emotional intelligence, sensitivity and, of course, Nick Viall.
But she’s more than the single piece of her personality portrayed on TV.
“I can be very lighthearted and I can be very playful but, you know, that’s not the side of me that makes sense for my experience there,” Nolan said. And though she was showcased as a very specific type of person on television, she was easy to talk to IRL, cracking jokes about her time on the show, her life now and how others saw her based on the part of her that they saw on TV.
Even those presented in a positive light only had one portion of their personality aired, according to Nolan. In a season so focused on the drama between Nolan and Olympios, it was inevitable that there would be constant media attention, sides to be chosen and endless tweets posted during the airing of episodes.
“I think it certainly is disappointing how much the show focused on the drama, but unfortunately that is what our society loves,” Nolan said. “We love watching conflict play out.”
She gives a nod to the ancient days of Colosseum battles and the current fighting methods of more intellectual battles, ones that consist of deeper conversations and arguments. These kinds of conversations don’t just exist in reality television, they’re everywhere.
“When you look at who the president is and how the presidency is going with all these scandals, this is what America loves to watch,” Nolan said.
The guilty pleasure TV allows for people to feel a little better about themselves and relish in the entertainment aspect. Despite this, she believes that there can be room to learn from watching these kinds of situations, especially regarding The Bachelor.
“I think that drama, maybe if you look at it in terms of conflict, will always be entertaining, but also it’s a learning opportunity as well,” Nolan said. “Even though the show airs this very catty version of these girls arguing and disliking each other, when you look at it from a deeper perspective… there’s a lot that can be taken away from conflict.”
In an interview with Seattle Refined, Nolan talked about her experience with being the only girl in the mansion who didn’t drink at all. At times, she felt a little frustrated with that.
“There were definitely times when it felt inappropriate and disrespectful to the experience and process of the show,” Nolan said.
If viewers went back to rewatch the show with that knowledge, she felt that maybe they’d understand things from her perspective a little better. It’s hard not to admit that it would be frazzling to be the only entirely sober girl among one of the seasons filled with the most alcohol and drinking in the house.
Nolan, who spent some of the minimal spare time she had in the house journaling, was reflective on what the experience meant to her in terms of the big picture of her life. When she finished her Master’s degree program in clinical mental health counseling at Johns Hopkins University in May, she was left at a crossroad in her life, unsure of what step she was going to take next. The opportunity to be on The Bachelor arose in mid-June and she felt like it was the time to step out of her comfort zone. And how could it be anything else other than outside of anyone’s comfort zone? Packing no more than two suitcases with no idea what’s to come, moving across the country to live with so many people you don’t know, dating someone blindly while competing to be engaged, traveling the world and going on bizarre (and incredible) dates. I’m sorry, but who has ever been broken up with after a reading with a voodoo priestess in New Orleans? That definitely requires some guts.
“I’ve always been two, three steps ahead of where I should be, so it’s been a really good, challenging, learning experience for me in terms of my own personal experience,” Nolan said.
She used her time in the mansion and on national television to reflect and grow in different aspects of her life, focusing on things like dating and being vulnerable. And through this unusual experience, Nolan came away with a lot of unparalleled experiences – ones that also included going on a group date to perform with the Backstreet Boys, one of her favorites. With no music in the house, she celebrated the time that the girls had to sing and dance together with Nick.
And as for Nick? Though they started off strong, Nolan felt a disconnect as their time in the mansion continued.
“I think he brings a lot to the table in terms of really great conversation. I definitely liked him in the beginning, and our time together slowly became no longer focused on actually getting to know each other and just processing the experience that we were currently in,” Nolan said. And anyone who watched this season knows that as time went on, so many of their conversations started to be centered around Corinne, down to their very last date.
Nolan said she knew pretty early on it was going to be Vanessa and Nick. Nolan, who is still close with Vanessa, has gotten to know Nick in a capacity outside of the show and has only positive things to say about him.
In her new world outside of the show, Nolan isn’t quite sure what her future holds yet.
“Now I’m given this really strange platform that a lot of mental health counselors don’t have, so I’m looking to find a way to lever that and take advantage of that,” Nolan said.
She wants to become certified in chemical dependency, but she also would like to tour universities and have an open conversation about her time on The Bachelor… as well as mental health.
“Maybe talking about things like emotional intelligence,” Nolan laughs.
Her experience has been rewarding overall. She’s walked away with personal growth and lifelong friends that she can spend three hours on the phone with. She and a couple other girls bawled when Liz left the house, leaving notes in her bags to take with her as she left. The Bachelor is a unifying experience – there are not many other people in the world that will know what it’s like to live in a house with so many people trying to win the love of one person at the end of a couple months. And that creates a special kind of friendship.
“Even if we’re not in constant contact, there are still girls that I know if I need something I can reach out to them, and they know I’m there for them too. It’s a very special, unique bond having gone through that experience both on the show and watching it back, a very bonding experience,” Nolan said.
Guilty Pleasure TV Show: Teen Mom
Favorite Food: Chocolate… or beets
Hobbies: Reading, roller skating, go hiking, family time
Celebrity She’d Want to Have Dinner With: Brené Brown, Researcher of Vulnerability
Favorite Instagram Account: @thevunerabilitychallenge
IMPORTANT NOTE for anyone interested in seeking mental health help: Taylor recommends Psychology Today, where you can search for therapists in your area and help connect you to someone to talk to based on your needs and insurance.