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5 Lessons I learnt From Being Bullied, and How it’s Helped Me in Business

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5 Lessons I learnt From Being Bullied, and How it's Helped Me in Business

Growing up, I was bullied. I had a weight problem which made me an easy target, I was told I wasn’t very smart by teachers, and everyone told me I wouldn’t really go far in life. The worst thing about this was that over time, I started to believe them. The bullying was so bad, that I started making up excuses to either not go to school or stay home. By the time I was 13, teachers were setting me up to drop out of year 10 in high school and I was advised to study a trade. I didn’t understand why my appearance and my bad grades were such a point of interest for the school bullies. But then again, I was a kid.

Bullying followed me all through primary school, and into high school. I lost a heap of weight during high school, a whopping 55kg, but the taunting and teasing didn’t let up. It felt like a never-ending cycle I couldn’t get out of. The relentlessness pulled me into a downward spiral of depression, and I was constantly at war with myself. My self-worth plummeted.

Like so many others though, I pulled myself through the dark cloud of depression and trudged through high school, finding my stride by believing in myself. The dark days still came around every so often, but I had developed strategies to help me make it through, one day at a time. These strategies of resilience developed from periods of sadness and depression, turned out to be part of the foundation used to build my PR firm, Millennium Communications, at just 22 years old. Here’s what I learned:

 

1. I learned to trust my intuition

Trusting my intuition has led me towards fantastic partnerships, clients and huge wins. When I listen to that inner voice, always tells me who to trust and who not to trust. In the moments where Ive brushed my intuition aside, things havent worked out and Ive learned valuable lessons.

 

Intuition doesnt lead me blindly, but it acts as a guide.

It steers me towards my passions rather than settling to work on something or with someone that doesnt align with my values.

 

2. I learned the importance of self-belief and valuing myself

After years of being bullied, Ive learned how and when to challenge people, and when to stand up for myself. Not in a nasty, confrontational way, but in situations when Im being taken advantage of or overlooked, I know I can have my own back. This confidence has also helped me value and treasure other people more too, as I can give them my energy as well. This energy gets transmitted to my clients and my team at Millennium PR. And dont forget:

 

Starting a business takes a huge amount of self-confidence.

 

Even taking the step to start a business means you value your skillset and feel as though you can make a real difference in society. My new-found confidence helped me take ownership of my abilities and execute the huge undertaking of starting a business, even when I wasnt certain about the outcome.

 

 

3. Kindness and authenticity get you so much further, ego doesnt

 Being bullied made me want to be someone else. I thought if I were different, maybe they wouldnt pick on me, but nothing I did seemed to make them give up. Trying to be different left me feeling empty and even worse about myself.

 

Being able to value my true self took many years, but now I know authenticity is key to my business.

 

It helps me build genuine relationships and theyre the ones that have been there to support me at all stages of business. Theyre also key to my reputation in PR, as genuine relationships with everyone from media to influencers is central to being a publicist.

Kindness is another a key pillar of my business arsenal, as Ive found leaving a good impression is a key to developing good relationships, even when things dont go well. Even after a meeting where both parties arent happy, being kind and thoughtful to find a solution has always worked in my favour. Leaving a sour taste in peoples mouths never works, and leaves everyone feeling awful.

 

4. Not everyone is going to like you, and thats ok

 This was the hardest one for me to accept. Being bullied turned me into a people pleaser when I was younger, but as I got older that attitude left me empty and tired. As humans, we want to be liked and accepted and it can be really hard to handle if we arent. Now Ive changed my tune.

Rather than worrying about if people like you or not, just aim to be yourself and accept things how they are. Whilst one person may not like you, there will be dozens out there who do. 

You cant always get across the line with everyone in the room, so instead, aim to impress yourself and leave a positive mark, whether its meeting someone for the first time or presenting in a board room

 

5. Business isnt personal, it just is

 Bullying was personal, and each taunt targeted my flaws to make me feel less than. Thankfully, business is as far from the schoolyard and has very little to do with anything personal. Its not about you as a person, its about the work.

At the end of the day, business is just business. There are highs and lows. As an entrepreneur, youll celebrate milestones, then experience times when you want to hide under a desk and cry (guilty as charged) Its about owning your personal magic and knowing that youre amazing at what you do despite the bumpy ride, otherwise, you wouldnt be doing it.

 

Bullying affects one in four Aussie kids, but as my journey shows, it doesnt have to haunt you forever. In fact, surviving relentless bullying at school will make you a more resilient, self-assured person in later life if you let it. Now with five staff and a client portfolio of international brands, I wouldnt change my past as its what brought me here. OK, maybe I might change a few rough days here and there, but overall, my past is what shaped me and my business success, and Im grateful for it.

Cassandra is a branding expert and publicist for entrepreneurs. With 7 years of experience developing and growing brands, she has positioned herself in Australia as a Top 50 Small Business leader and keynote speaker.

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