Rachel Lindsay on Making History as First African American (& 'Oldest') Bachelorette: 'All Eyes Are on Me'

"I'm something new and different that they haven't seen before ... everyone's going to have an opinion," Rachel Lindsay tells PEOPLE

The Bachelorette‘s Rachel Lindsay is making franchise history as ABC’s first black lead — and she readily acknowledges there’s plenty of pressure that comes along with taking on that role.

“I really do [feel it], because I know all eyes are on me,” Lindsay, 32, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. “They’re on me because I’m something new and different that they haven’t seen in this franchise before. With that, everyone’s going to have an opinion.”

That said, Lindsay, who works as a trial attorney in Dallas, says she’s braced herself to face the onslaught of attention.

“There’s going to be a lot of judgment, and I can’t please everyone,” she says. “I thought to myself, ‘Do I really want to do that? Do I want to take on that challenge?’ — and I’m not one to run away from a challenge, so why not challenge myself and have the opportunity to get exactly what it is that I want for myself?”

  • For more from Rachel Lindsay about her journey to find a husband, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

FROM PEN: Ali Fedotowsky Will ‘Definitely Support’ Baby Molly If She Wants To Be The Bachelorette

Watch the full episode of People Features: Rachel Lindsay, streaming now on People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS and Android devices.

“Just being the first, setting a standard — all eyes are on you. You know they’re watching you,” she continues. “Not just as a woman, not just as a black woman, but as a professional woman, as an older woman. I’m the oldest Bachelorette that there’s been. All eyes are on me for a lot of different reasons. That’s a lot to take in.”

And that’s without mentioning the emotional roller coaster of finding a fiancé on national television!

“Honestly, I was nervous because it’s The Bachelorette,” says Lindsay, who made it to the final three on Nick Viall‘s season of The Bachelor.

“This time, it’s about me and my journey for love, and typically I’ve been more private,” she says. “And although I was public with Nick, it was just a relationship with Nick — now I’m having this relationship with several upon several men. I’m a little nervous to do that!”

The Bachelorette airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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