lifestyle . Interview

What Changed After I Became Internet Famous

On self-esteem, privacy and more

Change is unpredictable yet inevitable. For November’s Change series, we share inspiring stories of encouraging, adapting and embracing change.

Fame was the last thing on Mongabong a.k.a. Mongchin's mind when she penned her blog entries in a now-defunct LiveJournal called "smilelikeidiots". To her, it was like an online diary where she took to pouring out her emotions. "That blog went through every little shit with me. Heartbreaks, betrayal, family problems, friendship problems... Happy times as well, obviously. But I figured that most of the posts were sad ones and I realised I only turned to my blog whenever I was upset," she wrote on her first post in her fresh, new space on Blogger in January 2013. At the time Mongchin wondered if anyone even read her musings. Little did she know that in just a few years' time she would become a new breed of celebrity — an internet-famous personality.

It all started quite gradually. At first, there were those comments on her blog from strangers. Then, opportunities to model for blogshops (blogs that function like mini e-commerce websites) followed. Eventually, Mongchin joined Instagram and began to amass a following beyond her blog. One day, she received an event invitation. "It wasn’t a paid job, but I remember feeling so happy the entire day because that meant a chance that I’d get to actually meet some of the bloggers I was following," she said. From there, everything followed; the admiration from strangers, the sponsorships and even her very own LIFETIME TV show called Who Runs the World with Mong Chin?.

They say that fame changes a person, but what most don't consider is that it first changes the life of that individual. So, what changed?

Being internet-famous means watching what she says

Unlike her early days where she could freely write about her private emotions and details on the happenings in her life, now that she has a considerable following, Mongchin shared that there is a pressure to be a good role model — that includes being more thoughtful about what she puts out on her platforms. "I know my words now hold a bit more weight than it used to," she said. One wrong move and she can be subjected to harsh scrutiny from "naysayers who can be really ruthless at times". 

"These days I’ve been trying to focus more on creating content that I think would add value to my followers’ lives, even if it meant shelling out more production costs to produce them," Mongchin said.

One of her latest IGTV series projects right now is Makeup101 with Mong where she "dives deep into the very basics of makeup". "It usually ends with a giveaway to help start someone’s makeup journey. It has been really fulfilling so far," Mongchin said.

Becoming internet-famous made her more confident and less lonely

Does becoming internet-famous boost one's self-esteem? For Mongchin, it did. "I would say it has definitely made me a much more confident person because I do get some form of validation from my followers," Mongchin shared. However, there's a catch. Like anything else in life, you have to take the good with the bad when you're in the spotlight. "Having such a public life also means being subjected to trolls and haters that would draw energy from hitting your self-esteem... so that kinda cancels out? Haha," she said. On the brighter side, Mongchin also feels less lonely now because of the many people chatting and cheering her up every day.

Being internet-famous means giving up on her privacy

When you've built a career from sharing your opinions and what's happening in your daily life, giving up some parts of your privacy is a given. It's certainly a truth that Mongchin has accepted as "part and parcel" of her job. "In order to show my life online, I will have to give up certain parts of my privacy," she said.

Mongchin shared that at times it does feel like her life is being scrutinised and her every step watched. "However, I do still have control over what I want to share online, so there still is a balance," she said. Mongchin takes special steps to ensure that she doesn't accidentally share about her current location and be considerate of family and friends who might not be comfortable with having their lives publicised on her platforms.

Being internet-famous helped her become financially secure

Mongchin never really imagined that it was possible to make a career or become financially stable as a blogger. "Back in 2013, there weren’t many companies that were willing to pay for blog articles. They were mostly bartered pieces where I accept products in exchange for the article," she shared. "Even if they were paid gigs, the money wasn’t much either." In the early days, Mongchin was just purely blogging as a hobby or for an extra source of allowance. But as more brands recognised the value of these influencers, things started to change. As a full-time content creator, she shared that she's definitely become more financially secure.

Being internet-famous made her experience more burnouts

While there are a lot of perks to being internet-famous, such as getting first dibs on launches and getting recommendations from engaged followers, Mongchin revealed that one of the most stressful parts is experiencing creative burnouts. "The internet does not sleep and so does your job. It can get quite draining at times. I’m still learning to find a balance between work, play and life," she said. Even so, she still loves her career as a content creator. "It’s ever-changing and dynamic. Content creation is limitless and I get so much creative space to create what I like."

(Cover photo from: @mongabong)

Next, read about the journey of motherhood and the changes it brings to a woman's life.