Cassandra Grodd has always been writing, but wasn’t until a friend asked her what she was working on during the hours of typing that she realised she had been subconsciously creating a book’s worth of thoughts.
Fast forward a year and a half and that Notes app full of words is now a real, tangible book. A best-selling book of stories and poems called BULLY, to be precise.
BULLY’s title is a reference to the internal bullying Cass experienced throughout high school, culminating in a crippling anxiety disorder and bulimia. She realised there was a need to start a discussion on these issues after she began sharing her writing on her Instagram, @quoteswithcass, and found that her followers, mainly young women, could all relate to her struggles with self-esteem, body image and mental health.
“They wanted more from me, so I gave them what I had been working on since I learnt how to write – my book,” says Cass. “I published BULLY because I want everyone, and I mean everyone, to stop beating themselves up.”
Her intuition paid off, with BULLY jumping straight to the Amazon best-sellers list, and Cass embarking on a sold-out tour around New Zealand to meet with her readers and discuss BULLY’s themes of self-love, heartbreak and confidence face-to-face.
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After spending five months living in New York, Cass is now based in Los Angeles, where she is working on finishing her second book. But the self-doubt still follows her, something that she’s always consciously working on.
“I have always been the most fantastic paradox, confident yet unbelievably self-conscious,” says Cass. “One day I feel like Beyoncé and the next day I can’t even look in the mirror. It’s a constant war, but getting older I’ve learnt how best to tackle the ups and downs and I’ve learnt to accept myself.”
It’s this self-acceptance that Cass wants her readers and followers to find in themselves, believing that even if she can help just one person it will all be worth it. But with nearly 15k followers on Instagram and BULLY peaking at #7 in the ‘women in poetry’ category and #3 in ‘self-help’ on Amazon, it seems her influence is much more far-reaching than she could have ever imagined.
“I still can’t tell you how it all happened. It’s as unbelievable to me as it might be to someone looking in,” says Cass. “All I can tell you is that from where there is darkness, there will come light. It always evens out.”
Scroll down to read Cass’s experiences and advice on topics that are close to her heart, from self-worth and confidence to living abroad, plus find out what you can expect from her next book.
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On self-worth and finding confidence…
“I remember a boy telling me to my face that I needed to lose weight in my final year of school. I remember my swimming teacher telling me I was too chubby for my togs and I needed new, bigger ones. These kinds of comments were endless. It wasn’t until I realized that I didn’t have to listen to them that they went away. It’s what you allow yourself to believe about yourself that will be your reality. You decide your worth.
“Something I learnt from my years of anxiety and an eating disorder is how powerful I am. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, if I take all this energy I’m putting into hating myself and put it into loving myself, imagine where I could be.’ We all have the strength to find our self-worth and confidence, we just need to put the focus into the right things.”
On goal setting and self-motivation…
“It’s not always easy to stay motivated. I once read that it’s not motivation that will keep you going, it’s discipline – and I have found that to be so true. There are days that I don’t want to go to the gym, or go to work, or stay up late to write – but I make it happen. I make it happen because I have seen the results you can get when you stay focused on your goals.
“Currently, I’m an organization freak. I have tables of goals that I tick off every morning and evening, I meditate every day, take my supplements and have a great skincare routine. Every completed task gets a tick – yes, like a five-year-old, but it means it gets done. My room is clean, clothes washed, bed made. You’ve got to be organised and consistent. Whether it’s setting aside three hours a day to write like I do or creating a consistent routine for your own personal goals, stay focused on the results you want to see and make it happen. No excuses.”
On living in New York City and Los Angeles…
“I was once told that New York is fun hell and LA is shitty heaven, and it couldn’t be more true. I love New York Cass; she’s quick, drinks black coffee, swears a lot, writes poetry on rooftops and gets blackout drunk. LA Cass drives a beaten-up Honda, writes shitty lyrics, dates more guys, does yoga by candlelight, and enjoys an oat milk vanilla unsweetened latte twice a day.
“The advice I’d give for anyone thinking of moving to either one of these two super cities is this: everyone will tell you not to do it. You’ve got to remember that everyone is scared and no one wants to be out of their comfort zone, but you can’t let yourself think like that. Ultimately, it will be what you make it, and you can make it amazing. You just need to trust that every time you jump, the universe will catch you.”
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On Bully and Book Two…
“BULLY is split into five sections which delve into the concept of love in every form, including self-love, heartbreak, first love, second love and falling in love with life. The book opens and dissects it all. I wrote it to tell my story about anxiety and bulimia, which are both topics that I felt and still feel do not get enough attention nor explanation.
What no one really knows is that I actually wrote BULLY to my younger self. It was saying goodbye to a version of me – a sad, hurt, heartbroken, and scared version of me. BULLY is her instruction manual; it gave her the blueprint to piece together her puzzle. BULLY is the curation of my healing, and I am very proud it has helped other people heal as well.
Where BULLY was a sort of closure for me, Book Two is a new beginning. It’s the present moment, an insight into my mind and my experiences. Books take a while to take shape and Book Two’s shape was formed in some of the most interesting environments in the world – New York bookstores, rainy streets, subways full of commuters, the Palm Springs desert, the slopes of Colorado, Sunset Boulevard, Santa Monica pier, long-haul flights and everything in between. It’s truly been born amongst my adventures. I want it to make people feel weightless and to feel like anything is possible. I want it to help them find their shine.