The former reality star also shares why she turned down 'Bachelor in Paradise.'
Vienna Girardi never could have anticipated the way her life would have turned out.
It's been 10 years since the 33-year-old solidified her spot as a Bachelor villain as she vied for Jake Pavelka's love -- and got engaged to him -- on season 14 of the ABC dating show. The pair broke up months after their fairy-tale engagement in a tense, televised exchange that went down in Bachelor history -- and started to change viewers' perceptions of the Florida native.
"People really got to see who I was, not just how I was portrayed," she tells ET's Lauren Zima of her and Pavelka's breakup. "The last eight years have really not been that difficult; people have given a chance to get to know me... and people who know me know I'm not a villain."
Girardi remembers being 22 years old, "right out of college" when she was cast on The Bachelor. She was bleach blonde -- "My friends decided, 'Let's go bleach blonde and I just happened to get cast on The Bachelor... I had to stay bleach blonde for my entire contract... I will never ever go blonde again," she says -- and bold. Her pursuit of Palvelka rubbed some of the other women the wrong way.
"I'm just someone that tells the truth sometimes a little too much," she confesses. "I'm the girlfriend you want in your corner, I'm not going to lie. I grew up around a lot of guys. I wasn't the girly girl I don't know how to sugar coat things; I don't know how to be that Miss Proper."
Girardi thinks that because runner-up Tenley Molzahn was so "sweet and innocent," she was molded into the villain character the show needed. "I had actually never even watched the show, so I had no clue what I was getting into when I went on," she says.
The now-brunette beauty also didn't know what she was getting into when it came to a relationship with Pavelka. She accused him of being a "fame whore" in their televised breakup, while he said she constantly "undermined" him; Girardi left their heated fight in tears.
"It made me strong, really strong," she says of how that breakup affected her. "Going through what I went through at such a young age... it has made me have a very tough skin and backbone."
Girardi and Pavelka last spoke 10 years ago, but she doesn't hold any ill will towards him. She's now in a happy relationship, and says she probably shouldn't have gone on The Bachelor to begin with.
"I [should have at least] waited until I was a little bit older," she concedes, advising that women don't appear on the show until they're at least 28.
"I feel like as a woman, 28 was the age where you've kind of got your career going on, you kind of figured out who you are. You know what you want in a marriage, in a relationship and you're kind of ready to settle down," she shares. "I think our early 20s is a little too soon for most people, so I would’ve waited."
"I kind of got the bad end of the being the youngest, because the girls kind of shamed me for being the young one on the show. I got hated on by the girls because I was the young college girl, so it kind of was a catch-22 there," she continues. "If you're young, I would say wait and probably watch the show first before you go on it. Study a little bit. I should have done that too."
Now 33, Girardi knows herself better -- and doesn't plan on appearing on another Bachelor show. She also doesn't count herself as a franchise viewer, but quips of Peter Weber's upcoming Bachelor season, "I think anything can be better than the first pilot. It's terrible to say."
"They actually asked me to be on Bachelor in Paradise and I was like, 'I don't know. After what y'all put me through, I don't know.' So they sent me a clip and they said, 'Well, watch and see what you think.' I said, 'OK. So, I watched the clip and it was [Clare Crawley]... she was sitting on a step and she was talking and it made her look like she was talking to like a raccoon," reveals Girardi, who also appeared on season two of Bachelor Pad -- alongside Pavelka. "I said, 'Terrible clip to send me. No, I'm not doing this show. Come on!'"
Girardi is still in touch with fellow Bachelor alum Erica Rose, but that's about it. "We've kinda all gone our separate ways and started over," she says of the franchise's cast a decade ago. "I don't really do much of the Bachelor parties or anything. I kinda ran from the franchise as fast as I could."
"I don't know if [my 22-year-old self] would have believed everything I have gone through in the last 10 years," she shares. "It's been quite an adventure. I've done a lot."
See more from ET's interview with Girardi in the video below.