Mandy Moore says she feels lighter after her unexpected divorce in 2015.
She admitted to PEOPLE that she never expected her life to turn out the way that it did.
"My story deviated in a different direction than I expected," Moore tells PEOPLE of her 2015 split. "But ultimately, life is about being happy and fulfilled and sometimes that means making hard choices."
She says at times things are hard, but she's moved on and "progressed in the stages of grief and being angry."
"I do believe things happen for a reason. And I think I had that mantra moving through the trying times."
There were plenty of wonderful moments in her marriage, she said. "There was a period in my life when it was so beautiful."
But ultimately she said,"I wasn't a participant in my own life for awhile."
"I poured so much of myself into my personal life and when that wasn't as fruitful as I hoped it would be and I extricated myself from that situation, I was able to realize I wasn't honoring myself and my dreams and what I wanted in life."
Moore has been having a great year though. She is dating musician Taylor Goldsmith and has a brand new show premiering on Sept. 20.
"You couldn't pay me to go back five or ten years ago," she says. "Having gone through trials and tribulations has brought me to this place today. I feel so much lighter. And I'm growing into the best version of myself."
This Is Us premieres Sept. 20 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.