I grew up with a gypsy mother. By the time I was 17, we have lived in over 80 homes - from Tasmania to Queensland. Do you know how many boxes I’ve packed in my childhood?
When I turned 10, I had been to four primary schools. Because I was a bigger kid – tall and broad – I stood out, bullied and teased for my height and size. There was never time to make friends because we’d get settled and move again. I was shy and quiet – a real bookworm – so I kept to myself. As I moved into my teenage years and adulthood, my self-esteem was battered. While I am (and was) the class clown, I do not like being the centre of attention. My extroverted displays a distraction from showing who the real me was/is.
Working in PR means I avoid standing out myself. It is so much easier promoting other people and businesses.
Can you imagine the challenges I faced when I went into business for myself? I had to get good at promoting myself through my own marketing and PR. I have the technical skills to do it … but the self-belief was not always there. Over the past two years, it has been a roller coaster of a ride building my business. My growth has been hindered by an inner voice telling me I can’, I shouldn’t and I won’t.
My story, the story of my past, had shaped this girl into thinking she was not worth listening to. I had been told this throughout my childhood - the way others treated me and by watching my mother make terrible decisions that demeaned her existence. They say you are the sum of the five closest people to you – growing up I was surrounded by drunks, abusers and people bereft of hope. Little wonder I entered adulthood damaged and scarred.
I have spent so much time feeling like a fraud – I’m not good enough, other people are so much better than me, I do not know anything. My logical brain says this is such a load of crap – I am skilled professional with 25 years’ experience in my industry, I am a storytelling hound dog who can sniff out a story in any business or anyone’s life.
When I was nominated for a series of awards last year, I found myself reticent to share these wins. I had to fight that little voice in my head saying ‘you’re kidding aren’t you? You so not as good as so and so. Why would anyone give you an award? What have you REALLY done?’
For goodness sake… shut up head! When I won THREE awards last year – judge by impartial panels – I was thrilled … Wow, someone else can see how good I am. That I am awesome at what I do. Reading the judges’ comments was a great confidence booster.
My mantra this year is Shaped Not Defined. My stories shaped me; they do not define me. I am not my story. My stories used to crush me under their weight. No longer. I have read many books, been to many workshops, and taken the time to understand the past is the past; I can’t change it but I can learn from it and grow. I know enough now I can choose what stories I want to tell.
It is time for the PR person to step out from behind the curtain and tell her story. Not just the stories of how to do PR and why it is important but the lessons I have learnt, the things I have done … there is value in my journey I want to share.
The moral of the story … your story NEEDS to be heard. You ARE good enough to enter and win awards. YOU are amazing. You have products and services people want. YOU are EXACTLY who your clients need. You are GOOD enough. Are you listening to your inner whisper? That quiet whisper that is trying to be heard over the babble of the voice that is telling you you can’t. It’s time to tell that voice to be quiet.
This is your year to share your story with the media. To enter awards. To get cracking with your marketing so you can help more people.
Go forth and stand out. I have your back. Ready, set …. GO.