Mike Johnson on new book ‘Making The Love You Want,’ finding self-love and support for BLM

The 'Bachelorette' alum unpacks his journey of self discovery in his debut book

Mike Johnson‘s life has been anything but ordinary.

The 32-year-old made the transition from Air Force veteran to reality TV star when he landed a spot on ABC’s “The Bachelorette” in 2019. Now, Johnson is unpacking that journey—and adding published author to his resume—with the release of his book, Making The Love You Want.

“My time on Bachelor Nation [has shaped the book], but before as well. My experiences in the Air Force my experiences traveling the world and my experiences just diving deep into hundreds of books that I read,” Johnson explained exclusively to theGrio. “Then also my time after being on the show, and dealing with social media, all those have been wonderful tools and experiences in regards to understanding people more. In regards to doing things that most people haven’t done and getting a different perspective on how to deal with life and all of its ups and downs and its beauty.”

Read More: Rachel Lindsay talks MTV’s ‘Ghosted’ season 2, growing diversity in Bachelor Nation

The book focuses on several important topics to being your best self, including not seeking validation from others and casting off limitations one can put themselves. Johnson shared that he overcame self-doubt by “completely saturating my mindset with positive, motivational speaking and listening,” reading and “talking to my friends on deeper conversations, rather than surface level conversations.”

The former reality TV star knows that many men, especially Black men, are discouraged from talking about their thoughts and feelings with other men. For men who want to have those more meaningful conversations, he recommends expanding their circle.

“With all my friends we talk about music all the time, but then we always try to get to the root of daily life,” he said. “If men feel like they can’t have these conversations and then they got the wrong peer group, it’s that simple. If that’s something that they desire, they need to be the leader of that group and speak up and speak out.”

He continued, “You got [guys like] Charlamagne Tha God, who’s like one of the biggest pioneers, speaking on all topics. I mean he’s fun and goofy, as we all know, but then he has the ability to speak on topics that are more than just surface level. I think that we all have that ability, it just takes one person within that peer group to stand up and speak on something other than entertainment purposes.”

Making The Love You Want also touches on self-love, but unlike many self-care advocates, Johnson does not think people need to master self-love before finding romantic love themselves.

“I used to be extremely firm in saying that,” he explained. “In saying that you have to love yourself completely, fully, PhD [level], before you can be in a relationship. And I think that—just through growing, the beauty of growing, right, as we all get old and get gray hair and get wrinkles and all that good stuff—another beauty is that, hopefully, maturity comes with that and wisdom. So now I would say as long as you are growing and learning and practicing and striving toward self love, towards introspection, then I think that you can also grow in yourself as well and grow into a relationship.”

He added, “The beauty of a relationship is that a relationship that sticks together is one that understands that two people will continue to grow, we just don’t grow apart. I think that when it comes to self love, you always–I mean I wrote a book on it but that doesn’t mean that I’ve mastered it. It’s something that I will always continue to grow with it.”

Johnson has used his time as a TV personality to not only discover essential elements to loving yourself, but to also shed a light on the lack of diversity within Bachelor Nation and the country as a whole. The Texas native has protested for the Black Lives Matter movement and thrown his support behind ABC’s first Black Bachelor Matt James, who he considers a friend and “a great guy.”

Read More: ‘The Bachelor’ announces 1st Black lead for season 25

Also Read:

“I would not be authentic if I didn’t speak on issues that affect me,” he said about his advocacy for the BLM movement. “My mentee, my brothers, my sisters, my extended family members—I wouldn’t be able to look in the mirror myself if I didn’t speak on something that was so near and dear to me, and so ridiculous. Quite honestly. We live in a world to where we’re so connected, we can see everything going on, and we would think that that would be a good thing. We would think that the injustices that have been placed against Black people, that the world would want to unite. But sadly, that hasn’t been the case.”

“And so I want to do it everything in my power, personally, to always speak up and speak out,” he continued. “I don’t care if my audience is 100% against it, this is who I am. I will always be me. I talked about making the love you want in my book, and a big component of that is to be authentic and to speak your truth.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!