top of page
  • Writer's picturePatrice Mann

Affirmations Inspired by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “I am ______ enough to do this.”

Have you seen the Netflix documentary “Knock Down the House?” It came out last year and chronicles several women of color running for congress in 2018, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). One scene in particular stands out for me as really emotionally poignant.

AOC is at home, with her partner, preparing for an important debate against an incombent politician. She’s sitting on her couch with her notes and highlighter in hand, she takes a break, and says outloud, “I need to take up space. I am here.” She gestures with her hands, in large circular motions, as if to enact herself “taking up space.” She continues deliberately stating calmly, but firmly, “I can do this. I am experienced enough to do this. I am knowledgable enough to do this. I am prepared enough to do this. I am mature enough to do this. I am brave enough to do this.”

She goes on, “This whole time, he’s [the opposing politician] gonna tell me I can’t do this. He’s gonna tell me I’m small, I’m little, that I’m young, that I’m inexperienced.” When she’s done, she ends by exhaling forcefully, and pushing her arms forward in an exaggerated motion, as though to clear her space from the negativity of the anticipated doubts and criticism.

I love this scene so much. I find it calming even to listen to. It feels like she’s grounding and powering up at the same time. I love the precision of the language in her affirmations. It’s like the antithesis of the cringe worthy “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” affirmation originating from the movie/book “The Help,” that has been popularized and then mocked around the world.

The words she chose are so nuanced and apply so well to her position. And then explicitly anticipating the critic’s statements, and saying “He’s gonna say” instead of “maybe I am…”, seems to combat that internal doubting voice. Additionally, I think incorporating the body movements, by gesturing with her arms adds another layer of seriousness to the embodiment of the affirmative statements.

Finally, I love this scene because AOC is known as being so smart, and so tough, and so quick on her feet, so to see her in a vulnerable moment is really inspiring. It’s a perfect reminder that even the most well spoken, qualified, and confident-appearing people sometimes have to take an intentional moment to build them themselves up, and to quiet the negative, doubting internal dialogue.

In closing, thank you for this Congresswoman AOC. We got this, and in your words…

Questions for reflection: Can you think of a situation where you could use this type of pep talk? Perhaps a before a presentation or work meeting, or an important conversation with a friend or family member, or even going to a social mixer or on a first date? What words do you think you need to hear? Maybe some of the words from this example could be helpful, or maybe you can think of other more fitting characteristics for your situation. What physical gestures might help you to embody the affirmative phrases you choose?

(For reference: The scene I’m referring to happens around 1 hour and 1 min mark of the documentary. And if you’re interested, at the time of my writing this article the entire movie is available on youtube at this link .)


bottom of page