03/02/2010 at 12:00 AM EST
Millions tuned in to see Jake Pavelka
propose to 23-year-old fitness consultant Vienna Girardi
on Monday night’s season finale of The Bachelor
. In the hours that followed the telecast, many fans took the Internet, outraged at Pavelka’s decision. They felt runner-up Tenley Molzahn
, was a better fit. But the 25-year-old college admissions administrator, who endured a painful divorce last year, says she’s happy for Jake and Vienna. "I’m feeling good," she says. "I have a lot of peace with Jake’s decision." Molzahn talked with PEOPLE about being rejected by Pavelka, life since the show wrapped and what lies ahead. --Monica RizzoIt was very emotional to watch the finale when Jake told you something was missing.
It was a very startling moment for me. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye because that relationship, that friendship was over.
What do you think of Vienna being Jake’s choice?
I actually didn’t ever get to know Vienna. In the mansion we stayed on completely different sides of the house. If Jake found something in her that he is so in love with, then I’m happy for them. If they can love each other, well, then good for them. A lot of will be upset that Jake didn’t chose you -- you were a fan favorite.
Some might be disappointed, but I hope they get over it quickly knowing that I’ve been walking around so happy and beaming. That experience was just what I needed, and to fall in love with Jake is just what I needed. So if that’s all it was, I’m thankful for it.
How have reacted to you now that you’re back at work?
It gets me really emotional, actually. People have come up to me at the store or Starbucks or where I work on a college campus and they just hug me. I’ve had women cry, and tell me my story has resonated with them and how they felt a connection. They say thank you for getting out there and showing us hope and strength. Wow. I think I’m in a pretty good place if I can offer that to .
Are you dating anyone now?
I have not been dating since I got home. I am still waiting to find the right person. Do you regret going on The Bachelor?
No. I will always appreciate this experience and this journey that I got to be on with Jake because he really helped me feel confident again, he helped me dream again, and to find the things that I need to keep alive when I meet that man that I’m supposed to be with.