Freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become a full-blown national phenomenon after watching her political career soar to incredible heights in a matter of just six months.
The U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district first emerged under the spotlight of the political scene last June — when she pulled one of the biggest upset victories in the 2018 midterm election primaries after beating 10-term incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley. A few months later, at the age of 29, Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress following her win against Republican opponent Anthony Pappas in the general election on November 6, 2018.
These last few months have been an emotional roller coaster for the previously anonymous Ocasio-Cortez, as she herself confessed. The congresswoman was recently invited on a podcast by the Intercept, where she opened up about her sudden quick rise in politics and the tremendous pressure that came with it.
According to the Business Insider, the New York representative has described her groundbreaking primary win – where she unseated a high-profile incumbent and won the primary in a seat that had not elected a Republican since the early 1990s – as the “most stressful time” of her political career so far.
During her appearance on the Intercept podcast, Ocasio-Cortez spoke candidly about what it was like to go from virtually unknown to constantly being under the scrutiny of the public eye, saying that she experienced “a completely alien change.”
“It was just a completely alien change. I was extremely stressed out because it felt like everything I said had so much more weight overnight.”
Ocasio-Cortez also talked about the acute sense of responsibility that came with her new position, saying that she had come to realize that many of her supporters were pinning their hopes – and piling their expectations – on an “avatar” of her.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said her stratospheric rise in politics means people are piling expectations on somebody who's 'not me': 'It’s like this avatar' https://t.co/8dwLSHQVsd
— Politics Insider (@Politicsinsider) January 29, 2019
The congresswoman went on to say that she was treated very differently by her future constituents in New York’s 14th congressional district after her victory on June 26, 2018. Occasion-Cortez detailed an encounter with a fellow New Yorker following her big win in the primary, saying that a woman literally broke down crying after passing her on the street.
“Even though I didn’t feel like a different person I felt this immense responsibility of all of these people’s hopes and dreams for our future,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
“It is something that I grapple with a lot because I know it’s not me. It’s like this avatar of me. But I still feel a responsibility to do the best that I can.”
In addition, the freshman congresswoman revealed that she had serious doubts about winning her House seat in November, despite everyone telling her that her election would be a “sure thing.” Ocasio-Cortez was very frank about her dwindling confidence and even said that she was “getting a lot of evidence on the ground that supported my feelings.”
Needless to say, her worries were proven unfounded when she won more than 70 percent of the vote in November of 2018, thereby becoming the youngest-ever woman elected to Congress.