As a candidate or an elected official, your personal life becomes far less personal and far more public. Everything you do can become public information. This is a trade off that you have made for the opportunity to make the change that you want in your area.
Here are some tips on handling public life:
- Don’t lose touch with family and friends
Any political figure lives a very busy life. It is more important than ever to be close to your friends and family. They know you better than anyone else and know you beyond the persona that the media presents. It is easy to “live in a bubble” in politics where you get so wrapped up in a campaign or in government that you become disconnected from what is really happening in the world. Your friends and family can help burst that bubble and bring you back to real life. Also when times get tough, they will be there for you when everyone else around you might scatter. Call them whenever you have a free moment.
- Social media is not your friend
One mistake on social media can destroy a career. You may think you are clever but you probably aren’t. What might be funny to you could be offensive to everyone else. Use social media to share important events and speak to issues. To be safe, designate someone who you trust to handle your social media presence. Make it clear with them what your expectations are.
- Designate one friend as your outlet
In the extremely stressful world of politics, you have to be “on” all of the time. You can be having a terrible day where everything is going wrong but you can’t let your staff, volunteers, or media know about how rough things are going. You should have one trusted person in your life with whom you can “vent”. They can give you advice or they simply listen to you. This person could be your significant other but I don’t recommend it. They are also dealing with public life by being in a relationship with you and they also feel the stress. You don’t want to stress them out any further.
- Don’t “google” yourself
You might be tempted to read reviews of the awesome speech that you gave but the internet is full of miserable anonymous people who say terrible things about public figures. From a public figure’s weight to their clothing choices, there really is nothing off limits for these people to comment on. Unless you have a ridiculously thick skin, it is best not to read what they say.
- Be nice to journalists
They are trying to do their job and usually want to make you look good. It can be a symbiotic relationship. If you have an antagonistic relationship with them, don’t expect flattering articles about you.
- Watch your drinking
Public life is stressful and it can involve a lot of travel which can be rather lonely. If you find that you start drinking too much as means to coping with the stress or loneliness from public life, seek help.
- Depression is very serious
Everyone goes through ups and downs in their life. If you start to feel as if you are stuck in the depths of despair and can’t find a way to get out of it, you might be afraid to do anything about it out of fear of looking weak or hurting your poll numbers. Depression can be fatal and should never be ignored. Please seek help by telling a trusted colleague.