Being a blogger or influencer doesn’t have to be all about the glitz, glam, and likes. In fact, some of the most intriguing personalities on social media are the ones who use their platform to propel a message, cause or movement that is important to them.
Sonia Begonia, who has over 100,000 followers on Instagram, admits it took her a “ really long time to start identifying as an influencer.” She added, “Influencers often get a bad rap as sell-outs.” However, there can be, and oftentimes is, more to a successful account than partner ads or poses with proper lighting. “When I think of myself as an influencer, it’s not necessarily the products I’m influencing, but my morals, heart, and lifestyle,” Sonia told us.
Actually, Sonia’s intentions are what allows her to stand out from the pack of fashion-focused influencers. The San Francisco-based blogger uses her platform to help continue to spread mental health awareness. “When I am not posting about the latest sales or designer inspired accessories, I am posting about mental health.” Sonia added, “I have been an anxiety warrior for about eight years now, and find it to be extremely rewarding.”
Mental health isn’t just a cause she cares about, but one she personally struggles with. In a very personal blog post, Sonia was brave enough to detail her harrowing experience with her first panic attack when she was 22 years old. Unfortunately, the first attack wasn’t the last, and before she knew it, her life went through a whirlwind. She dropped out of school at UCLA, lost weight, became weak and debilitated to her bed. Luckily, with the right treatment, she’s been better, but continues to deal with the threat of a panic attack daily.
Not only has Sonia learned to live with her mental health struggles, she’s brave enough to talk about it and be a voice for others like her. Sonia’s message to doubters: “anxiety IS real and it can paralyze you.” Her message to others going through the same struggle: “there is hope – you are not alone. Do not be afraid of the stigma that comes along with any mental illness – speak up and share your story! Get medicated if you must.”
She often weaves in a subtle message about her personal struggles into her Instagram posts, which show true authenticity in her content. At the turn of the new year, Sonia promised to be even more of an advocate for mental health in her posts.
To understand how far along she’s come since her darkest days struggling with anxiety, it’s important to know where she’s at today. Sonia as an influencer is only her side hustle. The San Francisco-based blogger has a full time 9-to-5 job in tech and blogs part time. Yet, she still manages to rake in plenty of sponsorships with her Instagram account.
Her advice for success: “You cannot half-**s blogging or influencing. You may need to get up at 5am to do a try-on before you hit your 9-5pm job.” She added, “You may have to occasionally sacrifice time with your friends and family. It’s all part of becoming successful. Balance, but also sacrifice.”
Despite her ongoing struggles with anxiety and panic attacks, Sonia has struck the perfect balance for herself where she’s able to hold onto a highly stressful full time job AND maintain a successful Instagram page for over 100K followers.
📷 Emily Kim Photography