Can I cope with the stresses?

Most of us get to the end of four years and find it has taken some toll on our weight, our general health, and our happiness. It helps to come into this knowing it’s not an easy job (whatever people may think), having a good support network in place, and making time to take care of yourself – I am writing a section on self-care, which I hope will be useful, too.

One really tough aspect of the role, and one that’s fairly unique to being a politician, is the fact that you become “public property”, and that it’s generally publicly acceptable for people to be rude or dismissive of the States, or individual Deputies, without necessarily being in possession of the full facts (or indeed any of them!).

One way or another, I’ve seen that hurt a lot of my colleagues, and I’ve been hurt by it myself. If you have a deeply-felt sense of honour, you’re going to be dismayed by the general public assumption that you, because you are a politician, are acting without integrity. If you take pride in doing a good job, you’ll be rattled by the view that we’re all careless and stupid. If you know you’ve been working your socks off for the good of the Island, you’ll be hurt by the nasty comments on some online forums. You’ll be astonished by how one-sided even traditional media coverage feels.

Those challenges aren’t insurmountable. Each of us learns to cope with them in our own way. But they’re real, and there aren’t many other jobs or life experiences that can prepare you for them, so you deserve to know about them at this stage, and to think about how you will deal with them in turn.

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