Monday, October 31, 2016

My First Time Failing A Brand

I don't normally like to chuck dirt around and make a mess but sometimes, you just can't help but defend yourself. I've signed up for a bloggers newsletter of sorts where brands ask for bloggers and you can pick which 'assignment' you want to apply for. I rarely find anything I can apply for since everything happens in the UK to the point where sometimes I actually resent this country (DON'T EXPECT ME TO SAY THANKS FOR THE RAILROADS AND OUR INDEPENDENCE).

I feel like the blogosphere is very saturated with specifically English bloggers. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but when all the English bloggers are focused on English bloggers, then it's kinda hard to get noticed. You'd think people would like variety (hey look, a blog written in Pakistan!) but it turns out birds of a feather flock together.

Anyway, back to the point. So I applied for an assignment and got accepted (you hear that? You have to apply and get accepted) and I had to review an app. You can check out my review here. Now one of my personal policies on this blog is that I'm not going to blow anything out of proportion (unless it's something actually cool). And I didn't do that at all! I didn't make mountains out of mole holes, I wrote exactly what I thought about this app. In fact, I even kept some of the more negative opinions to myself.

It didn't take long till the deadline was done and I got an email in my inbox. Here is the email in its entirety. I've taken the liberty to highlight all the things I have a problem with.
Morning, 
It has to come to our attention that you have written a blog after spotting the Blogger Require competition. 
If you had read our Terms and conditions via the website you will have seen the clause which states that you cannot mention that the reason you’re writing the blog post is because its a competition.
Although you have your opinion on Huggle, we feel it is unfair and in parts wrong. And I kindly ask that you remove your blog post, or at least edit it. There are a lot of things in your blog which are not correct and we do not want this to damage our brand. Firstly, you can add places when you first download Huggle. You can choose up to 5 places anywhere. Therefore you can see places/events that you have previously visited. 
Huggle launched only a month ago and unfortunately it seems that your country has not many users. Until the app grows, users will start to expand in your country. However if you have visited other areas such as the UK - you can add these places to your list and will therefore see more people.
The reason we ask users to have a profile photo is so that other users can see what you look like. 
Our safety features have been praised as the best in the app world. We use hyper-local technology and a 1 minute photo verification, which stops fake check-ins and profiles. Our 24/7 monitoring team are also on the watch of any abusive or abnormal behaviour from our users; so Huggle is in fact a very safe app. The reason why we use Facebook is because we want to verify every user.  This again makes the app safe. We are working on other ways to verify users but for now this is the only way. 
Kind regards,

Initially when I got the email, I felt very upset because I too felt like this email had been drafted wrongly about me and that there had been an attempt to harm my entity (as opposed to me writing falsehoods about them and trying to damage their brand). I gave it a few days and then decided that there was no reason for me to be upset about what they said and there was no reason for me to do what they said at all.


First of all, I did not merely 'spot' the competition. I applied for it. I got accepted. The application involves you mentioning your location. You wanted someone from a third world country to review your pretentious first world country app.

Secondly, I did not mention the word competition anywhere on my post. This just goes to show that you haven't even read my post. If you thought I was going to be talking about Huggle the whole time, no. I wanted to mention Bloggers Required so that my readers could sign up to them (not you) if they wanted to.

You want me to remove or edit my blogpost? Are you trying to tell me what to post on my blog? This part really makes me mad. Not only am I the one to apply, spare a couple of MBs on my small 8 GB phone, sign in to said app with difficulty, check said app every day, but also be the one who's supposed to censor my content? You want all of this done for free?

Oh wait, it's not for free, I get my name in a stupid competition I know I'm not gonna win anyway cause whatever you're offering me didn't even interest me that much in the first place. I just wanted the experience of working with a brand and let me say this, it's been terrible.

There's a lot of things on my blog that are not correct? This will damage your brand? Check out that wording. Thanks for making me feel like my blog is all wrong, instead of just the post about your app. Did you notice how this whole brand is all "ME! ME! ME!"?

Do you honestly think I- or any of the bloggers who applied- care about your brand? You didn't even make a decent effort to make me care. It was just "oh here's the app, try it out, write a review and you just might win some English money!" but I think I know why. It was probably because they already got their stats and technicians to decide that it was better to invest in the English bloggers than a Pakistani blogger.
Me: I'd love to write a review for the app but there's a lot of features I can't seem to use mostly because there's only one user apart from me using Huggle in my area. Would you still like a review from me? I could talk about the potential of the app. Let me know what you think. 
Them: Yes obviously in your area and due to us being a new app there may not be lot's of people. We're very busy here in London though and in the bigger cities. Perhaps talk about what Huggle aims to do, and the functions it has and essentially get people to download it, so you'll have more and more people to connect with eventually.
Oh yes, so much more ME! ME! ME! going on here. The only time when it's really about me, Kanra, it's "oh just get people to download it so you eventually have people to add on the app". Wow. Seriously? And hello. Islamabad is a big city. It's the capital of Pakistan. But you English people probably don't know that cause you're busy with London and Royal Weddings and British tea :C

If only you had visited other countries like UK. ????. ??????????????. NO. I DONT WANNA VISIT UK. NOT ANYMORE.

If you're a brand and you want me to write for you, here are a couple of things I want to say.
  • Do not expect me write your brand like it is amazing when it's not amazing and you should know that I won't ever blatantly say your brand sucks.
  • Do not expect me to change my content to suit you. I don't change. What's written is written. And only I get to decide what stays. This is my blog. Not yours.
  • Do not expect me to keel over when you play a victim card about your brand. I don't care about your brand image. Just as you don't care about me or the other bloggers you're using.
  • Do not expect me to promote your brand when you can't properly reciprocate my efforts.
  • You expect to get brilliant content for free? Over 20 people wrote posts for Huggle. Only three people get paid.  You're not allowed to be picky about the kind of content bloggers are posting about you if you can't even give them any sort of payment for what they're doing for you. Just take the three posts you liked and use those. Don't tell everyone else to fix themselves.
  • Do not expect me to change my personality for you. I have social anxiety. I will not post my picture on this app no matter how secure you say it is. I don't care if it's the most securest thing on this earth. I have anxiety.
Well, that's all the salt I have for today. I feel a lot better after typing this out! Have you ever collaborated with a brand? What was your experience?

No. I will not take down this post or the review post. These are my unpaid opinions.

Friday, October 28, 2016

How To Ace Your Viva

or at least feel marginally less stupid than you usually feel.

You might be wondering, what are vivas? Well, vivas are basically an oral examination where there's just you and your teacher/professor and they ask you a series of questions, testing your knowledge and your method of conveying what you know. Introverted people like me find vivas extremely daunting, mostly because you can, in real time, gauge how your performance is going by judging from the examiner's expressions.


Of course, not all examiners are the same. Some will smile encouragingly when you answer correctly, to help boost your confidence. Some will smile encouragingly when you're wrong, just to see what other blunders you're going to be making today. It depends really. Of course, if your examiners are your own teachers, you pretty much judge them according to how they are in class. But sometimes, teachers change and go into exam mode, where some will be lenient and doing their best to make sure you pass, while others will be grilling you harshly to see if you were actually paying attention and still making you pass, and yet others will be harsh and end up failing you at the same time.

Here's a couple of things I do during my viva;
1. Don't start talking immediately. Just help them note down your roll number/name and then stay quiet. Let the examiner start the examination, don't jump in with everything you know. 
2. When they ask a question, take a few seconds to think over what they're asking. Don't start blurting out the answer! Take your time. 
3. If you don't understand the question, don't be afraid to ask them to repeat the question. It's better to sound like you didn't hear, rather than talking on and on about something the examiner didn't even want to hear in the first place! 
4. If you feel like you don't know how to answer the question, break it down. Start simple. Let the examiner know that you're thinking, by starting from the first step. As you talk, the next step will get clearer and clearer until you finally blurt out what the examiner has been wanting to hear! You can start out by telling the examiner the obvious things first "I understood this this and this" and then state your inferences, "This means this, this means that" and then the conclusion "So this must be the answer".  
5. Don't judge how you're doing from the examiner's expression. If possible, ignore them completely and assume they're trying to drag you down the wrong path (unless they're a really nice teacher and you know they're trying to help you). Stick with what you're saying, don't let them sway your statements and appear indecisive!
So those were a couple of tips that I can give to someone who's appearing in their viva and is kind of nervous about it. I'm not saying that these tips are perfect or that I am experienced in giving vivas, but it's just that this is what I do and I feel like I don't perform as bad as I think I do, considering how nervous and tongue tied I get!

Do you find oral examinations difficult? How do you deal with them? Have a nice day!

Monday, October 24, 2016

I'm Dealing With Dementors

and I could really use a Patronus right now D:

Most of you must be aware of the fact that JK Rowling agreed to the theory proposed by many fans who claimed that the Dementors were metaphors for depression.
“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. […] Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself — soul-less and evil.”
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
At first, I thought Dementors were for fear. I mean, come on, Dementors are quite possibly the scariest creatures in the Harry Potter universe. They're sentient to some extent and they have an over-powered ultimate called the 'kiss of death' which sucks out your soul and reduces you to a shell of your former self. However, there is another magical creature which is the actual embodiment of fear.
"So the boggart sitting in the darkness within has not yet assumed a form. He does not yet know what will frighten the person on the other side of the door. Nobody knows what a boggart looks like when he is alone, but when I let him out, he will immediately become whatever each of us most fears."
-Professor Lupin
Harry's boggart was a Dementor, to which Lupin says "That suggests that what you fear most of all is- fear. Very wise, Harry."

So I'm guessing that while a Dementor mostly represents depression, it can also represent fear for some of us. After all, some forms of depression can be a result of fear, whether it's fear of the future, fear of people, fear of yourself, if you let fear get to you, it can culminate depression. And that's what I think my Dementors are. Depression stemming from fear.


There's lots of different things that make me uncomfortable (like insects) but there's only a few things that can actually trigger a depression phase in me. For me, depression isn't something pretty, like wistful nostalgic sadness or staring out of the window on a rainy day. Depression is lying in bed and not being able to stop crying, it's going to the fridge or the kitchen and finding yourself gagging at the sight and smell of food, it's feeling helpless when you're hungry, and it's desperation when you want this whole phase to end but you don't know how it's going to stop and you're trying so hard to be happy again because depression itself is so much more scary than whatever triggered it in the first place.

And nothing works. Because depression is a phase, right? It's like the common cold, or the flu. It's here to stay for a few days (and you can't change how long it's staying) before running off. That's how my depression works.

I know a lot of people suffer from clinical depression, the kind that makes them suicidal frequently and requires them to take drugs to stay stable. I'm not trying to say that my type of depression is something that is as important as theirs, let alone more important. I'm just saying that my kind of depression is valid and real and there's no reason for me not to talk about it. Even if people have it way worse than me, it doesn't mean I should sit down and stay quiet about what happens to me.

Glad we got that out of the way.

So for this post, I'm just going to talk about what my kind of depression feels like exactly. If I wrote about all my depression right into one post, it'll turn into a very long mess that you might not be able to reach the end of. I'll talk about all the things that have triggered my depression in the next post of this series.

For me, 2015 was a pretty rough year. It was my first year in med school so it's not surprising that my first depression phase of the year started not very soon after classes commenced. The second phase happened during our trip to the United States in the summer of 2015. And the third phase... I can't really remember when that happened. But it definitely happened.

The first time, I just woke up in the morning and I just didn't want to go to school. The problem with me is that it's surprisingly really easy for me to burst into tears, it's very embarrassing for me. When my mother asked me why I didn't want to go to school, I just burst into tears and I was like "I don't like med school!" and she tried coax out some answers from me so in that cry-mode, I ended up blurting out all the pettiest reasons my subconscious could think of for hating school.

"Nobody talks to me and I haven't made any friends and I hate going to school!" I end up blubbering. Of course my mother is a little alarmed and she calls up my father (who was in the US at that time) and he's just listening to me cry and he says "Okay. Don't go to school. Take as many days off as you want. We'll sort this out when I get back to Pakistan" and I hand the phone to my mother who of course, has to agree. She personally thought I should continue going to school until I got used it.

I spent an entire week at home, skipping school, having to listen to my mother say "If you keep wallowing away like this, you'll never fit into school, you have to force yourself to go and you have to force yourself to go talk to people. Making friends isn't so hard. I know where you got those genetics from- it was hard for me to make friends too. But now that I'm older, I know that going up to people and making small talk isn't so hard. You just have to push yourself"

I was in no mood to push myself.

Of course, I lost my appetite a bit as well and ended up eating fruits more than actual food and sleeping most of the time or studying. The second phase involved me generally feeling unwell and again, lost my appetite. I was completely fine until we reached Florida, the state I lived in for 10 years. We had some tickets for the local amusement park and zoo and I remember being generally tired and irritable and wishing we could just go home already. The only place I felt okay in was the car because the car meant we were moving onwards in our road trip.

My mother and brothers wanted to take a roller coaster ride in the park and I joined them in the line too. The whole time, I felt like I was hyperventilating and I told myself I was being stupid because I'd already been on that ride two years ago and there wasn't anything scary about it. Why was I feeling this way? I stood in that line for almost an entire hour, jumping from foot to foot, wondering if I should go to the bathroom or could I handle it for five minutes of the ride? I was in this state of perpetual stress until we reached the final line, the line where they set you into the order required to board the coaster, two people per line since each coaster box had two seats. And I felt my hijab choke my neck to the point where it was hard for me to reply to what my mother was asking me and I ended up vaulting over the coaster and waving "I can't ride this, bye" and hurrying towards the exit line.

I just couldn't do it. I wasn't going to risk myself choking to death out of stress just to ride a stupid coaster in a land a million miles away from home among all these people who don't look like me or dress like me but are judging me pretty hard for it. So yeah, I chickened out. That's the kind of depression I have. It's not something vague, it's sharp and choking and it's always sitting around my neck.

to be continued.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Why I Feel Like I'm a Writing Failure

Hi everyone! I've been kind of down in the dumps lately in regards to blogging. I think taking such a long break kind of killed a lot of my motivation for writing. I kept having a lot of ideas but I didn't really write them down or actually plan out blog posts and now that I've finally got time to write, I have no more material than I had when I set the blog on hiatus. Nevertheless I'm going to be trying my best to get back in the groove by talking about why I feel like a writing failure.

Everybody feels that way every now and then. But everyone's feelings stem from different reasons. Some of us feel like failures because we're busy comparing ourselves, some of us feel like failures because people tell us we can't succeed, and some of us feel like failures because we're told that writing can't earn your money.

I currently feel like a failure because there are so many things I should be doing right now but I just can't make myself get up and do it. I log in to blogger every day and I scroll down my posts tab. Let me tell you something, I have a dozen posts under "drafts" and all of them are just titles with maybe a measly paragraph or two written below. All my drafts are essential just drafts- rough posts, ideas, every time I get inspired with a cool title or a cool subject, I make a post on blogger.

When it comes to sitting down and genuinely writing a post though, I get kind of stuck. And what can I do? Here's a couple of things I spent my time doing and how I felt like doing these things didn't really help:

  • I borrowed a book from my friend to read for the weekend. It's a great book, don't get me wrong, but while reading it, I didn't feel relaxed. At the back of my head, I was constantly thinking "I need to start writing posts on my blog. I've been on a hiatus for quite a while. If I never pick up the pace, I'll lose myself" with occasional thoughts like "Ooh this paragraph is nice, I should blog about this book". Let me tell you something, it's been an entire week since I finished reading that book and I have not been able to pick it up again to actually write a book review post.
  • I watched a couple of Youtube videos. Nothing too ridiculous, I just felt that I needed to know a little bit of coding as a blogger. I went through a couple of simple tutorials about creating an HTML document and how you can build a bare skeletal blogpost (this was a great video by the way, I really enjoyed watching it and the narration was very simple and easy). The problem with watching these videos was that I got distracted by the videos on the side and ended watching stuff like How To Make A Cartoon Profile Picture, Zoella's Cute Hair Bun (but it's actually a blogging video but her bun is really cute), 10 Instagram Hacks, and yeah, you get the gist of it. So while I did pick up a couple of interesting tips and things I could do, I still wasn't able to sit on blogger and type out the words I had in my head.
  • I started playing a few new games I haven't played before. I thought I could write reviews about them, so I delved into the games and had a lot of fun, but again, my attention span seemed pretty short! I couldn't really immerse myself in for long. I started out with playing The Witcher and I was really excited about the game and I was able to crank out an entire post about the hilarious adventures I was having. But as I went on and on, I was starting to think it was impossible to document everything I was doing! There was just so much happening and I didn't know if my audience would like to read about something so detailed! I moved on and started playing a game on my phone (which I won't talk about just yet because I still have to write a post on it!) which kind of messed up my sleeping schedule to be exact. The next game I started playing was Path of Exile and while that game was also fun, it too deserves a post of it's own.... Which I'll write..... sometime.... soon....
So you see, doing all of these things gave me tons of ideas and titles to work with, but it didn't give me the drive to sit down and do anything about it. It gave me a false feeling of accomplishment- when you have a gigantic project or essay to write, and you've finally hammered out a table of contents or structure to work with but you haven't written a single paragraph. But you feel like you did a lot, right? I mean, you look at your work and you can see exactly what you need to do next. 

It didn't take me very long to realize that I was stuck with a type of writer's block!

I decided to go search this topic up on Google and see what other writers and bloggers have to say about dealing with this kind of situation. Of course, everybody has their bits of standard advice, all along the lines of do something different. Shake up your routine! Read a book, listen to music, go for a walk, etc etc.

All of which I've already done.

((I think I'll have to reiterate though. My kind of writing block isn't a deficiency of ideas. It's the deficiency of writing itself. If you have a deficiency of ideas, let me know and I'll share my fountain of ideas with you, because believe me, I have tons of ideas. I do not lie.))

Anyway, I came across this really nice article here, a guest post by Brian Moreland (a writer I've never heard of before but am thrilled to find out he writes historical horror and supernatural suspense). Personally, I think you should go read the original article, because I'm only going to mention the first two points, which I really liked (the water glass one is something I really don't like, its way too hard core xD).

Brian Moreland's first tip is this; do anything creative. Anything.

You heard that? Take out your dusty old paints and brushes. Or your half melted crayons. What about the notebook you bought to make a journal out of? Just work on it! If you can't make something with words just yet, make something with your hands. I didn't even know about this tip, but I had certainly been working on my art journal a little bit at a time everyday. Sometimes I browse pinterest and tumblr for inspiration, sometimes I paint a first layer and sometimes I ink in quotes and writing. But I'm always working a little bit every day. So far, over the course of maybe six months of starting an art journal, I have finished one spread.

I found the tiger sketch from a mess of art I found when I was cleaning out my stuff (we moved houses). I must have drawn it when I was eleven or twelve. I think the old me would be horrified to find out I've painted the tiger green.
There are lots of art bloggers out there, the most notable might be Areeba, who seem to be cranking out journal pages every few days. At first I thought that there was something wrong with me, for being unable to stick to the page and work on it until it was done. It took me a while to realize that what I am doing is just fine too! It's okay to flip back and forth in your journal and draw something on the fourth page and doodle on the sixth page and paint on the ninth. Yeah, you won't be able to instagram your journal properly (since it's a mess of incompleteness) but there's something really satisfying about watching your journal growing in every single page. It's like watering an entire garden and not knowing what will bloom first and where.

I've gone off topic, haven't I. 

The second tip discussed is free writing. This is something that I also find myself nodding to, even though I've not carried out this tip at all. It's important to stay in form, to keep writing as a schedule. Just like I was worried about losing my grip on blogging the longer my hiatus went on, the same can be said of writing. The more part of your routine it is, the more likely you'll maintain it.

Write! Write anything, write everything. Write how your day is going, write about a new idea you had, write about something you felt strongly about today, write about something your friend said that struck a chord with you, just write. These little pieces of writing, keep them all in once place because they just might end up filling up the cracks of a bigger project coming your way soon :)

So these were a couple of things that were on my mind. I'm hoping that I can back to the groove of blogging really soon. If you've had any similar experience, whether it's writing your blog posts or a story, what did you do about it? Have a nice day!
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