It’s not often that a person can make as strong an impression as Jenna Burke did in just two episodes of The Bachelor. Despite being able to express herself well enough in her career as a freelance writer, her brief time on the show was marked by emotional meltdowns and a virtual inability to utter a complete sentence in the presence of Ben Flajnik. After failing to receive a rose on Monday, she bawled uncontrollably and sniffled that she deserved to be in love.
Time heals all wounds, and the Jenna who appeared on this week’s Bachelor postmortem conference call was in much better command of her words and emotions. And thank goodness for that, since it would pretty much be impossible to live your entire life that way. “I’m just so much happier than I was when I went on the show. And I learned a lot,” said the 27-year-old New Yorker.
Burke believes her breakdowns had to do with bad timing in her personal life, as her appearance on The Bachelor came not long after the end of a relationship (she chronicles her man troubles and various other matters in a blog, The Overanalyst). “I’m always spontaneous and I take chances, but with my emotions, I didn’t know they were going to unravel like they did,” she said. The numerous changes she was making in her life proved to be too much to handle in a heated setting like the Bachelor mansion: “I wasn’t really at a strong point. It’s kind of like one big therapy session. I didn’t realize that I was carrying pain from the past.” By the time she got to her last cocktail party, “my mind was just all over the place … I started freaking out about the whole situation.”
Neither reality TV nor dating in general are kind to introverts, and this proved to be a problem for Burke, who said she did not appreciate how hard one would have to work to get the notice of the Bachelor. “You have to really fight for Ben, and if you’re not aggressive or confident in yourself, you’re not going to go far,” she said. Men on the show have tended to respond to outgoing women, but while Jenna wanted to get Ben’s attention, she didn’t want to go to backstabbing lengths: “I don’t have a mean bone in my body and I wanted to make friends with everybody, but some of them had their game faces on.”
Burke says that despite her first-night fight with Monica, and her comment upon being dumped at the rose ceremony that “these girls distracted him,” she got along well with most of her competitors. She says Monica is “a great girl; it was just a bad first impression.” As for Monica’s cuddle partner, the vampy Blakeley, she believes the cocktail waitress is someone who uses aggression to cover up her insecurities. Burke considers Kacie, Lindzi, and Nicki to be not just her best friends from the show, but also the favorites to win. But while she referred to model Courtney having a Jekyll and Hyde personality (“be one Courtney, please”), she also noticed Ben’s attraction to her on their solo date.
She had only pleasant things to say about Ben, even admitting she probably would have sent her home had she been in his shoes and had to put up with drama: “I always thought he stood out. He’s not your typical Bachelor; he’s more my type. I like his style and everything.” Her only mild complaint is that Ben allowed her to babble out of control instead of helping to guide their chats. “We had a good first talk, but our second talk was kind of awkward. I thought our last conversation was really tough for me. I wish he had helped me feel more at ease, and said something a little more comforting,” she said, adding, “I don’t feel comfortable throwing my whole personal life out there … time is of the essence, and my last talk was my most nervous. It obviously made no sense.”
How is Jenna dealing with being more notorious than your average second-week Bachelor casualty? “I didn’t know I was going to be a hashtag,” she mused, describing the Twitter reaction to her emotional wreckage. But she said she can live with it if people want to make fun of her in the short run, and will own her tears and her nerves. She claims to have gotten a lot of support in recent days from viewers who “love that I reacted like a real person” to the pressures of the show.
As for the inevitable question of whether she has found love after The Bachelor, Jenna says she is not currently dating and is focusing on self-improvement. Given that she may have been the most insecure contestant in Bachelor franchise history even including Ashley Hebert, I think we can all agree this is for the best.