"I've been a little immature in the past and made some wrong choices. But they made me who I am today," the hotel heiress, who walked out of jail Tuesday morning, said in her first TV interview, on CNN's Larry King Live Wednesday.
"I felt like this is a new beginning for me," she added. "There's just so much more to me than what people think."
Advancing a message she first began to spread while still behind bars (and emphasized in her interview with PEOPLE on Tuesday), Hilton, 26, said she now appreciates "things I took for granted" and plans to use her fame "in a good way." She called jail "a very traumatic experience, but I do feel God makes everything happen for a reason." (See the complete transcript here.)
Hilton told King that her incarceration allowed her "time to figure out who I am." Asked if jail changed her, she replied, "Yeah, definitely. I have a new outlook on life."
To survive the ordeal, particularly in the beginning, Hilton said, "I went with the motto, 'Don't serve the time, let the time serve you.' "
She also told of complete strangers showing up during visiting hours claiming to be relatives so they could meet her (they were not permitted inside) and said that she didn't really hear what was being said about her in the outside world.
Growing guarded when asked about her friend Britney Spears, Hilton said, "Sweet girl, a good mom." Admitting that she knows Lindsay Lohan ("I wish the best for her," Hilton offered), she later said, "I don't have any friends in rehab." (Lohan is currently in Promises, a treatment facility.)
Asked by King why she's doing interviews, Hilton, who spoke quietly throughout the low-key hour, said, "I just want to let people know what I went through ... something I've really grown from."
Of the constant attention paid to her, King wondered, "Why you?" "I have no idea," Hilton replied. "I'm just living my life."
Hilton, who says she read the Bible to pass time in jail, hesitated when asked for her favorite Bible passage, but said she read the book every day. "I don't know if I have a favorite," she said.
Raised a Catholic, Hilton said she will now go to Mass.
King labeled her situation "a double-edge sword. There's a kind of denial over having done anything wrong. ... She thinks she got a raw deal. On the other hand, she thinks she used jail to her benefit."
Asked to predict Hilton's future, King replied, "I think we shall see what we shall see."
For exclusive photos of Paris at her grandfather's mansion following her release from jail, pick up the latest PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.