Interview with Tenley Molzahn by Ashley McIlwain
Most of us know her as the sweet, fun, and lively girl from the popular television shows, The Bachelor and The Bachelor Pad. Tenley Molzahn captured America’s hearts as she shared her personal journey through heartbreak and healing, all with a contagious smile on her face. She showed the world her outward beauty but captivated us all with an inner beauty that shone brightly.
A TV personality, correspondent, host, spokesperson, actress, model, and dancer, Tenley is the complete package. Currently Tenley is educating others about gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease as well as promoting a message for living a healthy, active lifestyle. She has worked with organizations like 31 Bits and Kusewera to help make a difference in others lives, and continues to encourage others to life a life with purpose, giving back to those around them. Through all of her adventures she manages to hold unswervingly to her faith and belief system in a way that inspires everyone who knows her to follow her example.
Recently I had the privilege of speaking with Tenley about life in the spotlight, dealing with heartache, friendships, relationships, everyday life, and everything in between.
Ashley McIlwain: Most people recognize you from the popular show, The Bachelor, Jake’s season. What was that experience like for you?
Tenley Molzahn: For me it was actually a really healing experience because of the position in my life that I was coming out of. It gave me something to look forward to and allowed me to start imagining another relationship in my life. It kind of put closure to my marriage that didn’t work out. So, just being able to look forward and kind of put myself into a really unique situation.
I really didn’t take it seriously at first. It was not something I really thought that was real or that I would do, but my sister and some friends really encouraged me to do it. So, I did and didn’t think I’d get past the first night. I started to realize, “Wow, I’m on this journey, maybe there’s a reason for it.” Then I began to really take it in for what it was and let my heart heal and just embrace a new confidence. I mean it’s weird because I had struggled with my trust really being broken from my marriage that I had been in, and here I am dating a man who is dating some other woman. So, it was a unique situation that allowed me to rebuild trust and heal in a different way.
It was apparent you built some strong friendships during the course of the show. How important do you think quality friendships are for someone and why?
Friendships are extremely important. One way is you have friendships that hold you accountable to the person that you say you want to be. That’s always helpful to keep you in line and keep you grounded to who you are. Also friendships are so important to have in place to have people to bounce your own thoughts off of and to hear feedback. Especially girlfriends, I think are really special to have in life.
At the final rose ceremony, you and Jake end up going your separate ways. Obviously that was a painful experience at the time, but what did you take away from it?
Well, the truth is I had extreme peace about the whole moment. It was really hard though because any kind of rejection just hurts no matter how I had prepared my heart or my mind for that situation knowing that that could be a possibility. One thing I took away was just knowing that there is a plan for me, and it’s better to go ahead and be let go by something or to let go of something than force the situation or a relationship that’s not meant to be. Otherwise, it’s just going to be more heartbreaking in the end. So, that’s kind of the way that I healed from that very quickly. Just saying to myself, “Well, that wasn’t for me, and good thing I know now.” That gave me the peace to move forward. That was one of the biggest things.
When I watched it on TV, it was a little weird because I had gone through a couple months of just healing on my own with a lot of people thinking I was with him despite the rumors that Vienna was the girl. One of the biggest things I learned was that no man can give me happiness. I was at home for like two months before the show started airing and a lot of people thought I was with him because I was really giddy when I came home. It was just because I was rejuvenated and felt ready to live life again, and I wasn’t stuck in this sad place anymore. So, I realized no man can give or bring me happiness; they can only enrich it, but I need to find it from within. My faith has really helped me with that. Whatever it is for another person, just to find that within themselves and let that be who you are rather than ever leaning on another human being to force or create that happiness for you.
Unfortunately, like a lot of people, heartache is not a new experience for you, between the outcome of The Bachelor and previously going through the painful process of a marriage that ended in divorce when your then-husband was unfaithful. What did you learn from those difficult times?
At first I just couldn’t believe it was happening and stuff. It took awhile to really to move on from it, but the biggest thing that I kind of pat myself on the back for was not closing up even though there were days I felt like staying in bed and not coming out to see the world. I had friends and family that reminded me that my life is not just about me. There’s something that I could be doing or some way I could use the sadness in my life to be a positive in the life of someone else … even my own. So, I was just getting up and going to try and thrive off of the things that really make me happy and help me. Beyond that, I just focused on moving on and using the sadness in my life to create something good.
Do you have any words of wisdom or encouragement for someone who is going through a challenging time like heartbreak?
I think that the biggest thing I learned was to keep moving. Find new challenges and things that excite you and really surround yourself with amazing people. I had people around me giving me great wisdom, and one thing a great friend said to me was, “Be blameless.” A lot of times during heartache, we get angry. We go through that angry stage, and we want to do anything for justice when someone or something else hurt you. I believe justice will be taken care of on its own in the long run, so it’s not up to me to deal with. That was something my friend pointed out to me. Just stay blameless and always be able to look back and know that I did the best I can on a daily basis. Go ahead and leave that hurt behind, don’t try to retaliate or prove anything, just move on. For somebody who’s hurting, I think it’s just very natural to want to react and hurt back, so be blameless.
What have your past experiences taught you about pursuing a spouse to share life with?
Never let somebody hold you back from things that you dream of or the things that make you excited. Don’t ever conform to somebody else’s dreams, desires, or ways of thinking. Be honest and true. Not saying that that’s necessarily what my situation was, but coming out of it, I’ve realized, “Wow, I need to stay who I am and let myself stay alive.” I think often times in relationships you can get going and get really comfortable, forgetting who you are and becoming somebody with that person. Now it’s totally about looking for that partnership with somebody who just wants to build you up, support you, and stand behind you for the things that excite you and make you thrive.
Be up front. Be who you are. People tend to get comfortable when you come together, and then when they take that step of marriage, all of the sudden, they get even more comfortable in a different way, which can lead to a lack of support. It’s a big wake-up call both ways, so stay true to yourself from the beginning.
Through these challenges you have faced, it seems you have chosen to rise above them and become a stronger, better, and wiser person. What have you learned about yourself through all of life’s adventures?
Hmm … I’ve definitely learned that I’m a fighter, and I don’t give up. I’m not meaning fighting back; I mean fighting forward and reaching for other goals ahead of me. I’m very persistent and I’m very capable. I’ve learned that too. I’m capable. Not that I want to be on my own, cause I don’t. I long to have that partnership with somebody, but I don’t need to lean on somebody else to be who I am.
It’s like your success, reaching goals, or being happy and fulfilled isn’t reliant on somebody else. You, in and of yourself are capable of achieving those things.
Exactly, but it always helps and feels great to have somebody standing right next to you rooting for you. So, it’s not like that’s a bad thing. I’m not going on a she-ra-woman-do-it-on-your-own thing; I’m totally just saying to be who you are and then add somebody else to be on your team cheering for you.
Personal growth isn’t the only thing you have picked up along life’s journey. I’m referring to your current beau, Kiptyn Locke. Do you think that difficulties can sometimes be blessings in disguise?
Absolutely! Because, I can look back and say, “I wish that that had never happened. I wish that wasn’t my road.” At the same time, where would I be today if I hadn’t gone through some trying times in my life? I feel like I’m a stronger person. I feel like I’m more in tune and in touch with who I am as a woman and who I long to be. I can’t say that I’ve actually reached that full dream of who I want to be, but it’s nice just knowing that I’m even on the way because of the things I’ve been through and how I’ve kind of picked up pieces to become a stronger person. So, difficulties are always little blessings in disguise. Kiptyn is definitely a blessing in disguise. He was a good friend after my experience on The Bachelor, and then he’s become my boyfriend and a great friend in my life.
It’s just so amazing how initially with the whole situation with Jake, it was probably devastating. Even if you have peace, it’s just like you said that it’s always difficult when you experience any sort of rejection. Isn’t it amazing though that through that, God’s given you this amazing platform to do so much and reach so many people, and then you got a guy that’s a million times better, in my opinion.
He is a million times better. I know there are good men out there. It’s always true how people say, “God always has the best for you.” It just keeps getting better. I now have a man who is extremely supportive, has a servant’s heart, genuinely loves others, and gets passionate and excited about things I do. So, it does work out for the best.
Besides being absolutely adorable, you and Kiptyn seem to have a lot of fun together, which I love. How do you manage to incorporate laughter and playfulness into your relationship?
Well, I think we are both just very playful people. I think that I came off on TV as a playful person but also there was a lot crying and sadness and stuff. I think he came off a little bit more serious, straight-to-the-punch, and kind of calm, but he is hilarious. It’s always just laughter. So, how do we have fun together? It’s just the things we do together. We always find fun activities or just enjoy doing relaxing stuff. It’s the way we interact; the natural fun comes out of that, and I think a lot of that has to do with having had a friendship before. By both of us not trying to hold a romantic relationship with one another and really being able to be vulnerable as friends, we built a great foundation to be able to be playful and fun. I guess that vulnerability is super important to have with somebody.
You actually enjoy being with one another.
Exactly! You’re not nervous or trying to be something. You are being natural and real.
You guys are a total power couple involving yourselves in a lot of charity and philanthropic efforts. How did benevolence become so important to both of you?
For me, it’s always been, “What can I do to make a difference? What can I do to shine my light to others?” I try to take away that easy mentality that this life is about me because it’s not. That’s always been my heart, but I’ve always wondered, “What am I supposed to be doing? What things should I get involved with?”
I get passionate and excited, and I’m ready to run with anything that I can to be a voice or help with something, especially now with the position that we’ve both been fortunate enough to be in with being recognizable and people wanting to know what we are up to. That’s Kiptyn’s heart completely. He’s been involved in philanthropic ventures for years. That was something he did in college. His family is very passionate about some of the causes they support. So, it kind of worked out that we both have a heart for doing things for others. But, he is better at actually taking action more than I’ve probably ever done myself. There are certain things that I’m all gung ho for, but other times I get intimidated thinking, “There’s just too many things. Which do I support?” He inspires me to want to just jump up and do whatever it is that comes my way. So, I think that helps us too because we enjoy doing stuff like that together.
Now I know that you need a teammate. I think marriage is completely about being a “we”, “us”, and a team rather than “your” life, “my” life, and let’s combine them. So, that’s something I have learned too.
If you don’t mind me asking, what are yours and Kiptyn’s future plans for the relationship?
Right now, I live in Orange County, and he lives in North San Diego. He owns a house down there, so the next step would probably be for me to move closer to his neck of the woods; find somewhere in San Diego. That’s a big step because I’ve lived here for nine years, but I think I’m ready for a fresh start. Plus, I have a lot of friends down there. I think it would just be so that we could have a more regular dating life and see if we’re on the right track still. Really be involved in one another’s daily lives more because right now we do a lot of seeing each other at different times of the week. I think it’s just good to kind of combine your environments a little and be able to meet up for a casual dinner on the fly. So, I think that’s the next step.
I always let him answer that question. His response that I’ve been hearing is, “Well, we’ve been together for going on a year now, so I think that moving it forward in the next direction is where we’re headed.” Something like that is what he says, but I let him answer that. Our plans are to just keep going forward, enjoy each other, and combine our lives a little bit more in a different way. I’m not in a rush; I’m really enjoying where we are at. Of course, to go on to the next step is always a wonderful and exciting thing, and I can’t wait for that. But, I also don’t want to force anything, and I just think it’s good to let the man be the leader in that. Kind of let him be the one that is really, really excited about whatever is to come.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone searching for a spouse, what would it be?
I think some of the things I said earlier would be the greatest things that I’ve taken on as my own personal way of feeling that out. Being super real with the person you are dating, in a relationship with, or even going into a relationship with. Be their friend, but have your friends, and allow them to have their friends. Whatever is important to you, be honest about it. See if they want to share those things with you or support you. Being who you are is the best way to find the right person. If they’re going to love you for all that you are and everything that comes with you, I think that’s a good thing.
Changing gears a little bit, fill us in on what you are currently involved with.
I have some things I’m working on that are coming up soon. Lately it’s just been really finding my place and what I’m supposed to be doing. Asking myself why I have this position that I’m in after The Bachelor and having so many awesome people wondering what I’m up to.
I’m gluten free, and it’s really changed my life over the last three years. I had a lot of hard times from when I was a baby until I was 24 years and figured out that I need to be gluten free. I lived in a lot of pain, and now I am pain free. It’s something that a lot of people don’t really get and doctors don’t really know about, so sometimes it’s a self-diagnosis thing. It’s something I’ve become a voice for – gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease. That’s one thing that I’ve been focused on. Living a healthy and active lifestyle is really important to me too and encouraging others to live like that. Those are the things I’ve really been involving myself in. I’m currently working on a project that’s going to offer a lot of those things combined and hopefully be helpful to many people. I’m excited about that all coming together.
Other things … I just did an Old Navy commercial as a dancer in it, and it was so much fun. I’m a dancer, but I haven’t actually been dancing professionally for several years now, so to fall into that was really, really cool. I’ve done some hosting. I did that for the E! News Daily 10 show until they got cancelled. Hosting and correspondent work was such a dream come true even though it was something I never dreamt of doing. So, now I’m just exploring all those outlets and trying to figure out if I should be doing that stuff. A lot of things have been coming and going, and I’m trying to figure it all out. That’s what I’ve been up to though.
In closing, do you have any pearls of wisdom you would like people to walk away with regarding life, love, or anything in between?
There are so many things that I’ve learned or heard and just want to share. One of my newest things right now is from a Christian rock band, Anberlin . One of their songs has a line that says, “I want to live inspired. I want to die for something.” My new thing has been to live inspired and just follow what that means to you. Live that life out. That’s one thing that’s really been getting to me lately that I feel like I might as well share. There are a lot of things I could share, but that’s kind of my thing right now. It’s something different.
A huge, “Thank you!” to Tenley for taking the time to share with us! To find out more about what Tenley is up to, visit her website.
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