Clare added, "I know that people watching, people seeing this will judge or question a lot of things I do. But I had to follow my heart. And I'm definitely happy."
The Bachelorette host Chris Harrison hinted on social media in late August production of Season 16 had wrapped, and Clare's season of the show is set to premiere Tuesday, October 13 at 8PM ET/PT on ABC, pending the schedule for the NBA Finals.
The Bachelorette's new season was originally supposed to have begun filming in March and premiered on May 18, but global health restrictions in light of coronavirus had shut down nearly all Hollywood productions.
After being announced as The Bachelorette star in early March, Clare had to wait about four months before production began in mid-July at La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, CA, where the season filmed in its entirety due to quarantine regulations and travel restrictions.
"There was a lot of stress, but I knew what was ahead," Clare said of that waiting period before filming began.
"Producers were reassuring me: it's not if you're going to be the Bachelorette, it's when."
Clare admitted there "were definitely a lot of emotions" she experienced when her journey to find love was put on hold, but there was apparently some good that came from it as well.
"It was stressful. But there were also honestly so many pros to it getting shut down," Clare noted.
"Producers were able to recast some of the guys and get some that were more appropriate for what I was looking for. I wanted a guy who was genuinely there for me. There was a lot of talk about, 'Oh, I'm the older Bachelorette, are these guys too young?'" Clare explained.
"But it was also about: am I too old for them? It went both ways. So we were able to hone in on what everybody was looking for."
A revised list of 42 men was released by ABC in July, and then after quarantine and COVID-19 testing, 31 guys actually appeared on Clare's season and got to date her.
"The ones that wanted to be there after the hoops they had to jump through, that was what I was looking for," Clare noted.
Clare also had a total of four months to google some of the men and scan their social-media accounts, including Dale Moss, a 31-year-old model and former college basketball and football player from Brandon, SD, who reportedly stole Clare's heart only 12 days into filming.
Dale was one of 17 original cast members announced back in March to appear Clare's season.
Reality Steve spoiler blogger Steve Carbone also insisted in his blog on September 30 that Clare and Dale did not have a pre-show relationship.
"It was definitely a long anticipation for the first night," Clare told People.
"To see the men standing in a room and know that most of them have the same interests and goals as I do, it really was magical. They were all amazing. I could feel it in my bones!"
Clare said it was "surreal" to be the Bachelorette, knowing all the men were there for her.
"I was overwhelmingly grateful," Clare gushed.
"Being a single woman during the pandemic, I spent months alone with my dog. There was no physical touch, no contact and no face to face. So just being able to hug on somebody and love on somebody was so amazing. There was more of an appreciation. And goosebumps!"
The anticipation for Clare's season is high considering fans have had to wait so long for the franchise to return and Harrison recently teased the season is "wild," "bizarre" and "unbelievably unexpected" with a "turbulent" and "tumultuous ending."
In one of The Bachelorette promos ABC recently released, Harrison is shown sitting down with Clare and telling her, "Congratulations, you've just blown up The Bachelorette."
A source told Life & Style earlier this summer that Clare "refused to come out of her room" at one point to film dates with men once she became smitten with Dale.
Producers were reportedly therefore left "scrambling" and "frantic" once Clare quit in terms of how to proceed with the show. The Bachelorette producers therefore brought in Tayshia Adams to serve as Clare's replacement.
(However, new The Bachelorette spoilers from Reality Steve spoiler blogger Steve Carbone shed a different light on the alleged turn of events that resulted in Tayshia taking over the show mid-season).
News of Tayshia's participation first shocked the world on July 31 when a spoiler about her replacing Clare was posted on Reddit and then Carbone tweeted there was "some serious validity" to the posting.
Entertainment Tonight subsequently confirmed on August 3 that Tayshia was the new star ofThe Bachelorette but Clare's short journey to find love will also be featured on the show when it airs this fall.
Harrison, however, hasn't confirmed in all of his pre-premiere press that Tayshia stepped into Clare's shoes and took over the leading role, even though Tayshia was photographed filming on the set this past summer.