Ben Higgins poses with his book, “Alone in Plain Sight: Searching for Connection When You’re Seen but Not Known.” Photo provided.
Ben Higgins poses with his book, “Alone in Plain Sight: Searching for Connection When You’re Seen but Not Known.” Photo provided.
A week after Ben Higgins’ first book was launched into the world, he said in an interview Tuesday that the release was going well.

Higgins is a 2008 Warsaw Community High School graduate, the star of the 20th season of “The Bachelor” and a co-founder of Generous Coffee.

“It’s weird. It took me two years to kind of start and stop and then finish (the book). So you kind of have this thing in front of you that nobody knows you’re writing, and then you get huge expectations for the launch of the book. So exciting. And you launch it and it’s like out there in the world. And you don’t really know much about it other than that. You know it’s out there, you’re hearing some reviews, you’re hearing some feedback. And it’s just a weird deal. It’s going well. It’s been a really fun week. A lot of conversations,” Higgins said.

He said it’s been emotionally draining a bit, too, because his book, “Alone In Plain Sight: Searching for Connection When You’re Seen but Not Known,” does try to pull some of the most raw, impactful moments in his life and the lives of others.

“So when you talk about it 15 times a day to 15 different people, you become a little bit desensitized to the impact one’s had on you, and that’s a weird feeling, but overall it’s going really well,” Higgins said.

He said it’s a completely different sensation than when he was on “The Bachelor.”

“One is because, with ‘The Bachelor’ it was a formula that you were just plugging into,” Higgins said. “With the book, it’s something that I thought through, that I created, marketed and directed and now pushed out. This is a different kind of ownership. There’s more personal kind of pull on me with this book.”

The attention to the book is different than the attention to the reality show, he acknowledged.

“With ‘The Bachelor’ you have a built-in audience of 13 to 15 million people back when I did it. So, those people are watching no matter if they like you or not. With the book, people are picking it up to read it and then give their response. It’s just completely different,” Higgins said.

“Alone in Plain Sight” started from Higgins’ own personal journey of feeling like an outsider looking in.

“So to explain it best, I oftentimes, still even, feel like the kid looking into the window at the party he wasn’t invited to, yet all of his friends are inside. Just feeling left out. Feeling disconnected. Not really ever understanding why,” Higgins said. “So this book is a response to anybody else who felt that way.”

When Higgins started writing “Alone in Plain Sight,” he started asking people about their experiences with feeling lonely, like an outsider and misunderstood.

“I recognized that everybody I talked to had tangible stories to tell on when and how and how often they felt that way. So the book actually turned into my story, but I also pulled some stories from others I had known over the last few years on their experiences as well,” he said.

As an example, for the first three chapters of his book, he speaks to a good friend of his who was paralyzed from a skiing accident right after he moved to Denver, Colo. Higgins spoke to a 22-year-old woman who was declined her third lung transplant so she knew she had three weeks to live. He interviewed a friend who was in isolation due to an immune deficiency.

“And I tell their stories as well. Mostly for the hope that the reader who reads it, does pick it up and when they’re done reading it, they feel less alone. That they understand they’re not alone in their own pains and their own confusions and their own stories,” Higgins said.

He said he wanted his book to be something that everyone could kind of relate to.

“For as much as I wanted to share about myself, I recognized that if I just shared my story, my book was going to fall short. So, I needed to pull in some stories that had impacted me as well,” Higgins stated.

While he admitted he’s never fully gotten over those feelings of being alone, Higgins said, “One thing that has helped me is building some skills to help me process through it, to not let it paralyze me anymore. There’s still moments in my weakest moments that it still paralyzes me, but I’m able to process through that emotion a little bit easier than maybe I would have 10 years ago, five years ago. I’m working on it everyday. So, yes, it’s still a common thing in my life, but it’s one now that, the most helpful thing to it is that I recognize it, I’m able to speak on it and not suppress it and hide it.”

Writing “Alone in Plain Sight” helped Higgins deal with his own emotions.

“In the last chapter, I speak about just how hard it was. Because I was pulling out old wounds, and because I was pulling out the most impactful stories of others, and processing that, it was actually really difficult emotionally at times because I found myself feeling very burdened, very heavy, but now, it was cathartic because I was pulling out stuff that I hadn’t healed from, so I was kind of able to identify those things in my life I hadn’t healed from and speak to those, which now allows me to at least recognize those, and I think that is the first step,” Higgins explained.

There might be parts of the book that people from Warsaw who knew Higgins might be surprised about.

“Warsaw is spoken about a lot (in the book) because it’s my home, it’s a tremendous place, it’s been a place that has formed me a lot,” he said. “But as everybody who lives in Warsaw knows, there’s a big world outside of Warsaw, so when you leave it, there’s a shock factor because Warsaw is a really great place and it has a lot of people that care. The world doesn’t exactly operate the way Warsaw does often. So when you leave it, it’s a shock factor and it kind of throws you into chaos because you don’t recognize the world outside of that town.”

A part of his book talks about how he struggled with knee injuries in high school that ended his sports career.

“I had back to back to back surgeries and I was given pain killers. It became a little over two-year addiction to pain killers that I took with me into college. I don’t think a lot of people from Warsaw knew that, I think that might be a little bit of a shock that I was dealing with that as I walked the streets of that town and I was growing up. That’s something I wrote about because I recognize that a lot of people out there are struggling with something similar, and I just want to try to speak into them to let them know that I’ll own that. That there’s a way out, but also if they’re still in it, that they don’t need to be ashamed of it. But I also want to give a perspective of what life looks like on the other side, because when you’re in it you don’t really realize there’s a life on the other side of addiction,” Higgins said.

To help understand Higgins and his book, one needs to know where he stands with his faith.

“One of the things I say now often is, I don’t believe in Jesus because it makes me feel better or because it’s some really cool idea. I believe in Jesus because I believe it is true. I experienced through prayer, the lives of others, through doubts and processes myself, that I just believe in Jesus. I believe that there is a God that loves us, that cares about us, and as a result we’re called to love others and to love God,” Higgins said.

“Now I say all that because my life and the book won’t make sense unless you understand that about me or about the theme of the book. So, throughout it, like wisdom and the care of people, the desire for people to know they have value and purpose, it comes from my faith and that’s interwoven throughout the whole book.”

He said the book is not just for a Christian. He’s had people read it who don’t believe anything similar to what he does and they told him there’s references to God and the Bible but his book isn’t pushy and they didn’t feel isolated because they don’t share the same faith.

“And that’s really what I was wanting. I wanted this to be a book for all, but I also wanted people to understand where I was coming from and why I was coming from that as I wrote the book,” Higgins said.

As for a book signing here, he said he will definitely be doing one in the summer, probably in Winona Lake. His family has started spending the winters in Florida, so Higgins won’t be returning to the Warsaw area until the summertime.

“But if somebody wants to buy it now, obviously this is the most helpful time for me personally for somebody to buy the book, it’s the launch,” he said. If someone buys the book now, he said he will still sign it at the book signing this summer for free.

Higgins encouraged people to go to their local bookstores to pick up a copy of “Alone in Plain Sight.” If it’s not available there, he said they could order it on Amazon, Good Reads, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, or Audible. Higgins read the book himself for Audible, which was a project in itself.

“Most places around the U.S. should have the book by now,” Higgins said.

He’s lived in Denver for eight years now, returning to Warsaw a few times each year.

“It’s weird how Warsaw still is a place I consider home. It still has some of my favorite people. Still is the place that impacts me the most. People that I trust the most. I love Warsaw, and I think that’s something to always understand is, it’s weird that you can travel and live across the U.S., yet there’s something about Warsaw that still makes it home. And, it’s something that I want people to know because I hope when you come back to a place that feels like home, that you’re still accepted into your home. And also, the book, has a lot of Warsaw themes in it. A lot of people now across the country have bought this book and they’re going to read about Warsaw and they’re going to read about Winona Lake, and I speak about Warsaw in the most authentic way true to myself that I can,” Higgins said.