I started my blog about 5 years ago, with different aims, different topics, a different stage of my life, and different settings. I was in the middle of my PhD completely isolated and disconnected from my circle of people and I didn’t fit the idea of what an academic is supposed to do, look like or behave. I started the Instagram page later on because it was a good outlet to advertise my blog and promote myself. I wasn’t the only one doing this, loads of other PhD students around the world were using Instagram for personal branding and they started getting some popularity. I tagged along and joined the party.
Honestly, without the support of some of the virtual connections, that became friends in real life, I wouldn’t have finished my PhD. I am glad of all the things I created, including a network of 20000 women in science that feel like they are no longer alone in navigating the struggle of being a woman in a male-dominated field. From a young age, we’ve been taught to be nice, to please people, and to accommodate the needs of others first. No one has ever shown us that we can be leaders, have successful careers and don’t depend financially and emotionally on men!
I started my brand from scratch, I had no idea of reaches, impressions, marketing, hashtags, video or photo editing. I just learned everything on YouTube and by reading books. Of course, there are many tricks to maximise your visibility, optimise SEO, have stunning graphics and create your own esthetic. But every successful brand owner will tell you that the difference between running just a blog or any other social media platform and having a successful and influential page is having a strong voice and taking ownership of your own opinions.
The hardest part wasn’t creating a brand, it was being consistently on top of the game!
Having bold opinions and being unconventional comes with a lot of criticism. Some people will like you and others won’t! This is nothing new! When you expose yourself and speak your mind freely, people are gonna judge and this is inevitable. Then, it’s up to you how to deal with their judgement: do you care about their opinions? Is the judgement of a stranger important to you? Are you scared that you’re going to lose friends? Or you just don’t give a crap? I am sure everyone reading this knows my answer!
People are going to judge anyway, so I rather to whatever!
Last year about this time, I published the article “A day into the life of an unconventional scientist!”. Back then, I was in the process of terminating my PhD and applying for jobs. I did question how people would see me from the outside and I knew that some of them would see my social media presence in a negative light because let’s not forgot that women with a voice are something new to the society. Then I just came to the conclusion that I can’t control what people think of me, the only opinion I can control is the one I have about myself. If the outside world sees my activities as something negative, it’s their call. As long as I do what I do with good intentions, I have nothing to worry about.
Starting my social media pages was possibly one of the best decisions I took in my life. It wasn’t easy, I went through a lot of harassment, sexual harassment, negativity and nasty situations. But the positive outcome outweighed the negative one by 100000 times. I found my own voice, I discovered myself, and I created and achieved the life I have always wanted. I will soon have my PhD, I have a kickass job, I live in a great house in a beautiful location by the beach, and I have created meaningful relationships and connections with people that truly care about me. I have everything I could possibly dream for.
Haters are gonna hate, nasty people will always be nasty, bigots are gonna judge and there is little you can do to change this. Your decisions should be your own and not based on “what others say about me or how will they see me from the outside”. Live your life according to your rules not following someone else’s agenda, today and every day, because this is the best gift you can do to yourself!