Rachael Kirkconnell is speaking out following the conclusion of Matt James' season of The Bachelor.
During Monday's finale episode, James gave his final rose to Kirkconnell but did not propose. During the After the Final Rose special, he revealed to host Emmanuel Acho that he ended their relationship after the controversy surrounding racially insensitive photos of hers.
Following the episode, Kirkconnell, 24, shared a lengthy message on Instagram alongside photos of her time on The Bachelor with James, 29, and her fellow contestants.
"Just when you think you found your way, life throws you onto a new path," her caption began. "It's unpredictable, unexplainable, and things might not go the way you hoped for. While I certainly wish things turned out differently, I also believe there is a reason for everything. We may not be able to control situations thrown our way, but we can control how we deal with it, and I believe good can come out every circumstance."
"This was supposed to be a monumental season, and one of the biggest disappointments has been the overshadowing of these beautiful women and their stories," she added of the other women who competed for James' heart. "They are some of the strongest, most brilliant, most extraordinary women and I was lucky enough to have met them. You all deserve more, but I promise to always stand by and support each of you in any way I can."
Kirkconnell went on to say that she "never expected" her relationship with James to end the way it did, but that she respects his decision to break up.
"I knew from the first night I met Matt that he was something special, and I was praying to share something exceptional between the two of us if that's what was meant to be," she wrote. "While I never expected this outcome, I respect his decision completely. Of course I wish circumstances were different, but I still feel blessed for the time we did have together and the memories we made."
"I got to fall in love, and I truly believe he was the love of my life," she continued. "He will always hold a piece of my heart. I'll always be hopeful and believe what's meant to be will be."
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Kirkconnell also brought attention to the racism controversy that surrounded the season, which was sparked after photos resurfaced of her attending an antebellum plantation-themed ball in 2018.
"At the least, I hope tonight sparks conversations and a level of understanding," she wrote. "I hope it opens your mind to unlearning bias, to educating yourself, and gives you the push to initiate change."
"There are so many actions you can take, but I believe it starts within the small corners of your life, and having these conversations with those around you," she continued. "It can't happen overnight and will be a never-ending ride, but I encourage you to take the leap and make a difference. We can change the world, together. I love you all and here's to new beginnings."
Her post received supportive comments from some of her fellow contestants, with Sarah Trott writing, "Beautiful girl with a beautiful heart. So well written."
"Proud of you for having important conversations and the progress you're making!" Mari Pepin commented. "Cheers to change," Pieper James wrote, as Serena Pitt added "Rachie" with a heart emoji.
ATFR host Acho, who stepped in for Chris Harrison amid this season's controversy, also chimed in in the comments section of Kirkconnell's Instagram, writing, "Appreciate your vulnerability and humility. Wishing you nothing but the best my friend."
While appearing on Good Morning America Tuesday, James addressed whether he would consider getting back together with Kirkconnell.
"I think there is a lot of work that needs to be done before I can think about being in a relationship with anybody," he said. "I need time to process everything that's going on. And I want to respect Rachael and everything she's got to do, as well."
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