October 16, 2017

Conversations with People #1

There was this particular night when me and two others - my boyfriend, and a good friend of his - were talking together in one of my favourite coffee shops in Bandung. I can't recall exactly how our conversation started but it led to my friend asking me a question that I never expected to come from him or any other friends of mine. Not because it was silly or impolite, but because I didn't think I was the kind of person who could answer that kind of question.

"I've been wondering, how do you build your personal brand to attract blog readers and followers on Instagram?", he asked me seriously, but still with a smile on his face. Whether he did so out of curiosity, confidence in guessing a potential answer, or it's just simply his typical face when he's comfortable talking with people. It is hard to pinpoint. 

I only looked at him, with a hint of uncertainty as I was trying to digest his words before responding any further. 

"I mean, reading your blog posts, almost all of them seem very honest and authentic. But are you really being honest, or are you trying to build a particular impression?”

I was a bit surprised and actually wanted to say why he asked that kind of question to me. I felt that this question about self-branding should be addressed to those influencers who have at least 10k followers on their Instagram or those whose blog statistic reach one million readers. In this case, I'm definitely not one of them. Though to my surprise, I was asked the same question again in other time. This time cam from my blog readers who I haven't met before. 


"Hmm.. Honestly, I don't have any intention to brand myself through my writing, let alone a strategy. What I write on my blog is actually my honest feelings and thoughts, because I need to have an outlet to express myself and pour down my thoughts."

"But have you doubled standard your writings? You know, when you write things that only attract or indulge your readers?"

I was stirring my ice coffee latte with a straw, though at that point there were less coffee and more water from the melted ice. 

"You won't believe this, but I didn't even know that my writings would be that interesting to other people until two years ago when a publisher asked me to compile some of my blog posts into a book. So all these years, what I've written on my blog is truly something that comes from myself and to myself"

Both of them staring at me in a way that they were waiting for more explanation from me. 

I was in silence because suddenly I remembered the first time I realised that my writings are attractive was around two and a half years ago, when someone close told me that he read my blog. That moment I expected him to compliment my photographs, but instead he said he really liked my writings. I was touched because it wasn't something that I often heard from people when they look at my blog. 

"Of course, there are still boundaries that I put on my blog, meaning that I select which ones that I share with the public and which ones that are not. I don't tell stories or share my personal experiences on my blog until I've worked through them; I almost always share them first with my closest people, asking their opinion on my writings. I'm also still avoiding some sensitive topics, like bringing up 'Ahok' case on my blog, simply because it tends to cause conflicts and also I don't know the whole story surrounding it. But if I share my personal experience and feelings, even if there are different perspectives towards it, I won’t have to feel guilty or insecure about spreading false information, because I know the truth about what I write”


We became quiet again for a few seconds and this time, my boyfriend broke the silence. 

“She isn’t typical blogger who sells her blog and Instagram for endorsement and other people's demands. That might be the reason why even though she isn’t as popular as other bloggers, she has some loyal blog readers… because she’s being herself and authentic”

I nodded, showing my approval towards his statement

"If I want to make blog as tool for personal branding, I would have done that since years ago, and of course, my efforts would go beyond writing honest and authentic posts. I would have focused solely in writing posts consisting of fashion wear like other bloggers. I would have given tips and suggestions on traveling than my personal perception towards the experience. I would have just posted  "Pinterest" or "Instagrammable" photos. At the same time, I could join other community bloggers or hijaber communities to expand my blogger network. I would accept several collaborations that come from Indonesian companies and even a recent offer from an London-based international ad company. But as you can see, I don't do any of that simply because I value my blog much more than just a tool to elevate myself in other people's eyes and make business out of it. From the first time I discovered blogging, I've always been interested with blogs that I can identify with, blogs that have a feeling, blogs that can bring me to that person's world. And maybe it's the reason why I put mine into that direction. I don't know what kind of blogger I will become in the future, but at least for now, that's still my preference".

That was my answer to them. But these past few weeks, that question has been echoing again in my mind. I feel like they weren’t looking for an answer to the question, but at the same time I couldn't see the missing gap between my answers and their questions until last night, when my mom called me and suddenly brought up this question out of nowhere. Well, I assume she just read the comments from the previous posts on my blog and started to realise that I have some blog readers. 


"It's good that you found your passion through blog. But what kind of person do you want to show from your blog? A young woman who can cope with her struggles, yet would occasionally allow herself to disclose her vulnerability to the public? We decide how other people see us, we are the one who make those impressions through everything we post on our social media. So whether you write something for certain purpose or not, what you write would eventually influence the readers' perception towards you".

I kept quiet when my mother said that because suddenly I remembered the other time when I heard that there was someone who had been talking behind my back, claiming that I was the catalyst of my friend's falling out with her boyfriend because I'm the type of woman who does not need a "man". That time, I actually just posted something on my blog about how being single isn't something bad. I wrote that because I felt burdened with my then-status because of the society’s negative view on being single. So I wrote that post hoping to change that perception, that sometimes it's okay to be single and there are even some benefits to it. What I didn't realise earlier that not long before that, I also wrote my thoughts about single woman and PhD. But did I intentionally create the idea that I am an independent woman who is against relationships? Nope. Not at all. That time I wrote all of those things simply because I felt like I was a victim of social paradigm about my position as single woman who wants to pursue a higher education degree than most women and men in my age, which hinder me to have new relationship. In this case, I just realise that I build a certain impression of myself to other people, which I didn’t expect.

I used to be ashamed about myself in many ways before, simply because what I am and what I do, more than not, do not fit with what most people are and do. I spent more than half of my life being embarrassed with myself and struggling with self-confidence. To be frank, I'm still struggling sometimes, and I think I would continue to feel this way for the foreseeable future. Through this blog, I simply want to share my experiences once I pass through said struggles in life and if I cannot hold my feelings alone, I will implicitly (or explicitly, albeit unintentionally) tell my personal (and sometimes, if not most of the time, sentimental and vulnerable) stories. But having this conversation with some people, I understand that despite my initial intention to simply just share my experiences that I hardly get from the society I live in, I need to be more aware and rather be careful of what I write and post in here (and Instagram), because I would both intentionally and unintentionally have created particular impression about myself to other people. To conclude, self-branding is not only for influencer or celebrity, but even for us, as common people. Because if we give false impression, that would be burden on our shoulders. 

15 comments:

  1. Hai, Zura. Aku suka dengan tulisann ini dan tulisan kamu lainnya entah itu branding or what else kata orang lain. Tapi aku bisa merasakan kejujuran kamu saat menulis semua blog. Jujur terutama tulisan-tulisan kamu tentang kehidupan dan persepsi kmu pada saat kamu menulis tentang wanita dan pendidikan and about status "single". Karena paradigma di masyarakat kita yang kadang membuat kita ga nyaman untuk mengungkapkan secara langsung dan dari bloglah aku rasa seorang introvert bisa mengekpresikan dirinya apa adanya. Ya, blog salah satu medianya. Tetaplah jadi nazura yang apa adanya tetep kece dan sharing apapun itu. Kadang memang kita harus cuek apa kata orang, tapi ada saatnya kita akan menjawab tentang pertanyaan2 orang di luar sana. Tulisan2 kmu pasti sudah punya tempat tersendiri di hati para pembaca. Success for your research

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    1. Makasih banyak mba Agessty. Komentar kamu bikin tenang :') dan ya,aku setuju pada akhirnya kita emang (kadang) enggak perlu terlalu khawatir dengan persepsi orang lain, selama yang kita lakukan sesuai dengan diri kita. Karena yaa yang namanya persepsi itu kan beda2 yaa, enggak bisa semuanya kita kontrol. Thank you mba sekali lagi. Sukses juga buat kamu yaa :)

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  2. aku, salah satu pembaca setia blogmu :)

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    1. haii, salam kenal Shasa! makasih udah baca blog aku :')

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  3. Sejauh ini, aku udah baca semua tulisan kak Nazura. Dan bagian terfavorit aku adalah saat kak Nazu share tentang kecemasan apa yg pernah kakak alami, juga saat kak Nazu punya percakapan mendalam dengan ur mom, kak.
    Ur blog is perfect, kak! Aku ngga ngerasa ada kebohongan dan 'unsur buat cari perhatian orang-orang' di tulisan kakak ini. Tetep semangat deh, kak.

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    1. Haii! wow, makasih udah baca semua tulisanku, meskipun kebanyakan curhat enggak pentingnya haha, dan makasih juga udah ngasih tau pandangan kamu lewat komentar ini. I really appreciate it :')

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  4. Tiba-tiba aku jadi keinget obrolan kita di tavern tentang personal branding,

    Just write what you want to write kak karena ketika tulisan itu jujur pasti ada rasa lega atau puas waktu nge-klik publish nya. Opini publik itu bisa macam-macam, dan kita ga bisa buat nyenengin mereka semua kan. Semangat semangat!


    Btw kak, roomtour *nagih* *kabor entar dijitak*

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    1. Iyaaa sebnernya salah satu yg jd trigger aku mikir ttg tulisan ini jg karena pembicaraan kita waktu itu, luk :') yap, tapi jadi bikin aku mikir buat lbh hati2 dlm menulis tulisan yang honest, karena bisa salah interpretasi wkwk.

      hahaha jangan memulai ngomporin room tour *jitak* *padahal krn blm dekor kamar baru* :)))

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  5. Pemikiran yang sangat menarik Kak Ozu :)

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    1. Hahaha aku jadi penasaran pemikiran yang mana-nya yang menarik buat kamu :)) but thanks for the comment, Maya :)

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  6. I guess this is one of many other consequences we would get if we decided to pour ourselves into the scary world of internet. People would come to you and brutally judging you this and that without even knowing anything at all. People only want to see what they want to see, only listen to what they want to listen and only believe what they want to believe. And I think no matter how many times we try to explain to them about our true intentions, sometimes, most of the times it'll only be waste of time hehe. Because you do YOU, kak Ozuuu!
    You don't have to feel bad just because you aim higher than everyone else, you don't have to feel sorry if you achieve more than everyone else either. I always alwaaays like your way of thoughts, stories, writings and ofkoooors those pretty travel pictures - and I can see how you genuinely pour yourself into it without having intention to show off or to make people be jealous. Kok aku kesannya sok ngerti banget ya hehehe tapi beneran kak!! Semangat selaluuuu, kak Ozu pokoknya mah tetep role model aku!!! <3<3<3

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    1. Well-said chaaa, as always! aku rasa kamu bisa ngerti banget karena we actually have a lot in common, dan juga aku langsung kepikiran sama salah satu conversation kita tentang persepsi beberapa temen2 kamu soal postingan kamu di instagram. Thank you Echa for your sweet, kind words! kamu puuuun ttp inspiring dan tentunya semangat jg ya chaaa! sending virtual hugggg <3

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  7. Halo Kak Ozu.

    Sejujurnya dari tulisan ini aku dapet semacem AHA momentnya dimana kak Ozu tetep authentic dalam bercerita. Secara ga langsung pun itu kemudian jadi kekuatan dalam berstory telling lewat blog. Jujur, aku pun juga merasa kebuka ketika baca tulisan yg soal women and phd itu jadi kayak semangat lagi negjar cita - citaku buat lanjut sekolah. Memang orang bebas berkomentar atas apa yang mereka lihat tapi jangan sampai kita kehilangan 'true color' kita ya kak :)

    Btw aku pun pembaca loyalmu kak, selalu nungguin kalo kamu update blog :)

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    1. Hi Destari! Makasihh yaa udah kasih opini kamu.. jadi ngerasa yakin lagi kalo apa yang aku tulis sebelum2nya di blog, terutama tentang pengalaman yang sangat personal, bukan sesuatu yang salah.

      Makasiiiih byk juga udah baca blog aku :D semoga bs sering update lagii abis ini hiihii

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  8. Generally I do not read post on blogs, however I wish to say
    that this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do so!
    Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great post.

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