11/12/2009 at 12:00 AM EST
While some say that scripted television is dying, irony is, in fact, very much alive. Days before an episode of The Hills
aired showing Stephanie Pratt confronting Holly Montag about her excessive drinking
, Spencer's 23-year-old sister was pulled over and arrested on suspicion of drunk driving
Given the personalities involved, and the public forum in which it the arrest took place, it had all the makings of a very real meltdown. But to the younger Pratt's credit, she's weathered the storm and come out stronger because of it.
"It was the worst thing to happen to me and, at the same time, it was the biggest blessing," Pratt told PEOPLE at the Maxim
and Ubisoft launch of Assassin's Creed II
in West Hollywood on Wednesday. "I learned to not fall apart, which is something that I usually do when something goes bad in my life. I learned that it is all about temptation and that I am being tested."
Being tested in Hollywood is an everyday occurrence -- as is the subsequent fall from grace -- but the plucky blond reality star seems determined to transform her arrest from embarrassment to betterment.
"This is the first time that I haven't screwed up more after a bad thing," Pratt says, "and I didn't fall apart and say, 'I hate my life, I want to die!' It's the first time in twenty-three years that I went the other way!"
And that "other way" has already yielded it's share of dividends. "Two weeks ago I found a partner for a handbag line that I've dreamed about since the seventh-grade," Pratt says, "and I'm closer to my parents and I've never been happier in my life! I've had problems in my past, but I would just let them turn into snowballs that turned into avalanches. And this is the first time that I've ever done anything different." --Reagan Alexander