Lauren Bushnell, whose parents are from Lake Oswego, is one of 28 contestants on the hit TV show this season

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lauren Bushnell, a 2008 West Linn High School graduate, is one of 28 contestants competing for Ben Higgins' affections on The Bachelor.SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lauren Bushnell was a cheerleader during her time at West Linn High School.Lauren Bushnell says it’s weird watching yourself on television, “knowing millions of people are watching as well.”

But that’s exactly what happened to the 2008 West Linn High School graduate on Monday, when Bushnell was introduced as one of 28 contestants on the 20th season of “The Bachelor,” one of the most popular reality TV shows of all time.

“Beyond just seeing commercials and previews,” Bushnell told The Review after this week’s premiere episode, “it was the first time I’d watched myself on TV, which isn’t something I thought I’d ever do.”

Filming for the show has already ended, but the winner and results will be kept under wraps until the season’s conclusion. That’s meant that Bushnell has been under contractual obligation to withhold information about the show from the public until Monday’s airing.

But here’s what we do know: Social media postings have proclaimed Bushnell one of the favorites to capture the heart of this year’s “Bachelor,” Ben Higgins. Bushnell says her number of followers on Instagram shot up to more than 15,000 after the conclusion of the season premiere, and that she’ll have to spend much of the week responding to texts and calls from friends and family.

“I would say 98 percent of people are nothing but supportive, which is weird but also so kind,” Bushnell says. “You also get the very random negative feedback, but I would say for the most part, my friends and family have been nothing but supportive.”

For those unfamiliar with the show, “The Bachelor” is essentially a game aimed at finding love. Twenty-eight women, including Bushnell, will go through a variety of dates, group activities and ceremonies throughout the season in hopes of winning Higgins’ heart.

At the end of each episode, Higgins will award a specified number of roses to those contestants he wants to keep around for another week. On Monday’s episode, he sent seven girls packing, leaving the total number of remaining contestants at 21.

The process eventually leads to the final four women, who are awarded “hometown dates” in which Higgins accompanies each contestant to the place where she grew up to meet her family. That means, should Bushnell advance that far, West Linn will be prominently featured on national network television, most likely toward the end of February or beginning of March.

The show’s final episode is scheduled to air on ABC in the middle of March.

Now that the show’s new season has started, Bushnell can at least confirm that she is indeed a contestant and talk openly about what’s aired so far — something she says has been a massive relief.

She says she was frustrated with the dating scene in Los Angeles and didn’t expect much when she decided to sign up for the show; in fact, she says she was surprised when she found out the show had interest in her.

She was told to watch last year’s season of “The Bachelorette,” because the next “Bachelor” would most likely come from the show’s contestants. When it was announced that Higgins would be the 2016 "Bachelor," she says she was sold.

“I’ve always followed the show off and on, but this last season of 'The Bachelorette' was the first I watched from beginning to end,” she says. “They only want you to come on the show if it’s a guy you generally would like. After the first episode, Ben was my favorite contestant. So when they announced it was him, I knew I wanted to be on the show.

“But even then,” she says, “I was never thinking, ‘Oh, I might meet him someday.’ I was just thinking he was such a catch.”

Bushnell, 25, graduated from West Linn High School in 2008, where she was a member of the cheer team, and went on to graduate from Whitworth University in Spokane. Her parents, Kristin and Dave Bushnell, are from Lake Oswego and continue to live in West Linn today, where they raised Lauren and her younger siblings Mollie, Bryant and Brett.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Kristin (from left), Brett, Mollie, Dave, Lauren and Bryant Bushnell pose for a recent family photo. Lauren watched Monday’s premiere with her sister and mother, an experience she says was strange but also comforting. Bushnell was the first girl to meet Higgins during the season premier, giving the 26-year-old software salesman a pair of wings and explaining her background as a flight attendant.

While not easy to date the same man alongside 27 other women, Bushnell says Higgins made the whole experience easier.

“I was so nervous, but he definitely has a way of calming my nerves,” she says. “He was easy to be around and easy to talk to. When you see someone on TV, it’s kind of like until you meet them, you forget they’re a real human being. But he’s so down to Earth and so real.”

While Bushnell can’t divulge how far she made it on the show — she won’t say whether she won or if she’s still in a relationship with Higgins — Monday’s episode revealed that she at least made it to the second week. And yes, she says, those episode-ending rose ceremonies are just as nerve-racking as they appear to be on television.

“TV time is a lot different than regular time. I think we stopped filming when the sun was coming up, so the first night was basically an all-night affair. You’re overwhelmed, because you’re around so many women and around this guy you want to date,” she says. “The ceremony is a little bit different, but it’s similar to how you see it on TV. We really wait for our names to be called, so it’s very nerve-racking. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait too long, but there were four Laurens on the show, so I didn’t want to step down for the wrong one.”

Promos for upcoming episodes include Bushnell and Higgins in an intimate setting at one point, and even show the 25-year-old shedding tears later in the season — something she’s not necessarily looking forward to.

“I saw some clips of me crying, so that’s going to be weird watching those types of things,” she says with a laugh. “I never thought that my entire family would see me kissing on television, so I’ve been trying to mentally prepare for that part. I’m sure I’ll cringe seeing something I consider semi-private. But I made sure not to do anything that would completely embarrass me later.”

Bushnell says she’s anxious for the rest of the season to air so that she can openly talk about all that happened. But for now, whether or not she indeed found true love is still up in the air.

To find out, keep checking the pages of The Review; we’ll run a recap of each week’s episode every Thursday.

Contact Andrew Kilstrom at 503-636-1281 ext. 112 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Bachelorette Bio

Name: Lauren Bushnell

Age: 25

Job: Flight Attendant

Hometown: West Linn

Current home: Marina Del Rey, Calif.

On Twitter: @LaurenBushnell3

On Instagram: lauren_bushnell

On TV: "The Bachelor" airs every Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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