Being The Bachelorette is no easy feat, and Brooke Blurton knows that all too well. The 26-year-old will wear her heart on her sleeve on national television when the show goes to air this week, and admits that her confidence, maturity and ability to be vulnerable on camera has come from tragic experiences in her past.
Born in the country town of Carnarvon in Western Australia, Blurton was one of five children in her family. Her childhood featured close bonds but also heartbreak and tragedy that she previously spoke about in her TEDx talk.
She witnessed her mum's "addiction to drugs", watched her older sister live with schizophrenia, and was moved into foster homes with her siblings on more than one occasion.
Blurton was only 11 when her mother took her own life. She was later sexually abused before moving in with her dad and stepmother. Then at age 15, she was kicked out of her home.
"I think previous experiences in my life have definitely made me grow up quite quickly and I guess take on this role within my family," Blurton told Refinery29 Australia.
"I've only ever learnt from those experiences and I've only ever grown from those experiences."
Having been forced to grow up so quickly, her maturity on screen could make it easy for people to forget that Blurton was only 23 when she first appeared on The Bachelor in 2018.
After famously choosing to leave Nick 'Honeybadger' Cummins on her own terms, she then returned to reality TV in 2019 on Bachelor In Paradise, but again found no luck finding love.
A lot has changed since then, prompting the youth worker to accept the opportunity to hand out the roses this time around.
"I think I haven't quite lived and experienced everything that I've always wanted and I think, more recently, I felt more relaxed doing so because I've kind of got myself out of this survival state," explained Blurton.
"I think I've always been such a hopeless romantic and my experiences have also taught me what I don't want in life, and also what I do want and I think it's all matched up."
She admitted that "choosing to do a television show is always a very unusual choice" when it comes to searching for a life partner, but it was the uniqueness of the experience that appealed to her.
"I think for me it always felt like there's so much more to it, and so much more depth to it," she said.
Leading a world-first can mount a lot of pressure on one person, especially when many from the First Nations and LGBTQIA+ communities are watching on.
"I think originally I felt a little bit of pressure to make it the best it could be and in representing both communities with so much pride and integrity," she revealed.
"But I think I relieved myself of that pressure soon after because all I can be is myself. You see my personality comes through and I think I have represented them by just being completely and utterly me."
Blurton said she feels pressure all the time, whether it's from filming, her day job or leading by example on social media.
"I always have like massive imposter syndrome, because I always want to get it right and I put that expectation and pressure myself all the time," she said. "But I think there's a moment when you know you are just who you are. I can't be anything that I'm not so I just need to really lean into that."
Filming this season in Sydney was a joy for Blurton, and she's hinted that she found what she was looking for by the end of the process.
But just after shooting wrapped up in August, she received the sad news her sister had passed away, prompting the reality star to fly to Western Australia to be with her family.
"I'm doing much better," Blurton said. "I think with any tragedy of losing someone, you will have felt like you're losing a little part of yourself."
Preparing for her quest for love to start airing later this week, Blurton hopes that the footage will encourage people "to start conversations and to really be open-minded."
As for what her biggest piece of advice is? Well, she chose to share what she'd tell the little girl who faced plenty of obstacles and adversity in life and has drawn strength from that to now be The Bachelorette.
"I think my advice to my younger self watching would be to not be afraid to be you. I think that's probably my biggest advice if I were to be my 11 year-old self watching this on TV unfold in front of my eyes."
The Bachelor Australia premieres on Wednesday, October 20 at 7:30pm on Channel 10.