Finding Your Community: A Conversation with Bria of Tendril Wild
We live in an age where we spend a majority of our day scrolling through social media. Most of us are just looking for a place where we can share our interests and connect with people from parts of the world that we’ve never been to. However, with hundreds of different communities popping up online, some of them just don’t feel like the right match. Feeling the same way, Bria of Tendril Wild wanted to create an online space that felt cozy and comfortable for those who wanted that “just right” feeling.
I was recently introduced to your site and what Tendril Wild is about. For our readers who are just now checking out your website, could you give us a brief description of what Tendril Wild is exactly?
As a website, Tendril Wild is a blog dedicated to helping women everywhere discover a passion for self care, personal development, and themselves. As a community and a feeling, Tendril Wild is so much more. It’s a haven in the making — a safe space, a close-knit, warm, and open-minded community of women talking through popular concerns affecting us in our current society, helping each other work through a variety of issues, from the potentially embarrassing to the beautifully liberating.
On your site, you explained that you were looking for a community that felt “cozy” and “just right.” What does that kind of community include? Why is that the feeling you’re looking for?
I believe that type of community includes a whole lot of compassion and mutual understanding, something that social media (and the Internet as a whole) is severely lacking. One of my favorite quotes is: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” That’s true. We’ve all got our personal stories that are begging to be shared, but we don’t necessarily have a safe space to share them, and that’s what I want Tendril Wild to be. I have searched for such a community before but haven’t really found one where I felt comfortable. For people to feel secure enough to discuss their life stories and journeys, they need a place where they won’t feel judged or misunderstood. They need a space that feels like curling up at your mother’s feet and having heart-to-hearts or sipping a mug of hot coffee on a rainy afternoon. Something that feels like shelter where they can be loved on. That is my wish and mission for Tendril Wild.
How does Tendril Wild encompass the type of community that you and many others were looking for?
I try to incorporate the type of feeling and community I described in every aspect of Tendril Wild — from the colors I chose for the blog (warm neutrals) to the tone of voice I use in my writing (conversational and friendly). A community is obviously not one person, but it can be built from one person’s dream. With this in mind, I am active with my blog readers and social media followers. The Tendril Wild blog is one of my main avenues for communication with my audience, and I try to keep the conversation flowing. I also started a monthly newsletter to better correspond with my blog readers and to get to know them better. I want to know their names and talk with each person on a regular basis. I want to know their favorite Starbucks drink or their favorite hobby and encourage them in their unique passions. I want them to feel heard and know that their ideas and concerns matter to me. I believe that any strong community is built on genuine friendships, and that’s what I’m striving to create with the Tendril Wild tribe.
Here at Dream On Youth, we’re always creating new ways to reach out to our community. In what ways have you reached out and connected with your community?
Before I even created the Tendril Wild site, I created an Instagram account for the blog a few months before I launched it. In doing so, I was able to connect with so many wonderful women that I never would have been able to know otherwise. Instagram has been such an amazing place to interact with my readers. I love the idea of sharing images — personal snapshots — of your everyday life. I feel so much closer to my blog audience when I see them post pictures of their fur baby or talk about something they’re currently going through. It’s awesome to be able to send a quick note and say, “Hey, girl, I’m here for you.” or “ I’ve been there, too...I can totally relate!” And in return, I’ve gotten many positive and encouraging messages on social media. The response to my blog has blown me away, and I’m so thankful to have “met” all these lovely women building each other up on a daily basis.
As I mentioned before, I also started a monthly newsletter for my blog as a way to further connect with others. In it, I share funny stories, pieces of advice, or personal mistakes and lessons learned that I feel might help someone else. It’s just another way that I feel helps join together this tribe, and I like to think of it as a virtual coffee date with a close friend.
You describe yourself as being an introvert, but also good at giving advice to friends. How were you able to open up and share your thoughts with your community? Why did you choose to share about self care?
I used to be very quiet and very shy growing up, so I didn’t always talk a lot in group settings, but I would just observe. In doing so, I feel it helped me to understand others better and know where they were coming from, which helped me give out worthwhile advice when my friends asked. In one of my blog posts on vulnerability, I talk about how after so many years of being insecure and shy, I knew I had to make a change before going to college if I wanted to make the most of my college experiences. So, I worked on opening up to others and pushing myself outside my comfort zone to grow and experience new things. It wasn’t always easy at all, and it definitely wasn’t always fun, but it was worth it in the end. As a result, I’ve come a long way in the last few years in terms of being less timid and more confident, and blogging is a natural extension of that. I also knew that in order to grow a tribe of women who felt comfortable opening up and discussing different issues, I had to make the first move and be transparent and genuine about my own struggles and journey. :)
During the time that I was trying to push past the limiting boundaries I’d set for myself, I discovered a love for self care and personal development. Learning about self care and developing my own little self care routines and rituals here and there helped me feel better about myself. I learned that it’s okay not to be perfect and that no one is. It’s okay not to be okay all the time, but it’s wonderful to love yourself in the process. For me, self care and introversion go hand in hand!
What is your best advice for those individuals who want to begin the journey towards self love and develop their own self care routine?
First, I would recommend asking yourself why you want to develop a self care routine and work on practicing self love. Why do you need this in your life? What is motivating you? What are some hobbies you already enjoy? Answering these questions could help you know where exactly to begin. If you want to develop a self care routine to help ease anxiety, for example, and you enjoy reading, then you could start by incorporating reading for 30 minutes every day before bed. Self care is simply an extension of YOU. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to look like what anyone else is doing.
I would also like to note that self love and self care are lifelong habits to maintain. Developing self love or a self care routine doesn’t happen overnight, and you won’t always feel like you got it right. You may still feel defeated some days or like it’s not working. But be patient with yourself and proud of yourself for how hard you’re trying. The main thing is that you know you’re worth it, and that you’re actively pursuing something that makes you feel good about yourself.
For those readers who are interested in joining your community and learning more about you, where can they find you?
I send out my monthly newsletter on the first Saturday morning of every month, and it’s a great way to stay in touch — I love receiving emails back! (It also goes great with a cup of coffee...just sayin’!) You can also find me on Instagram @TendrilWild (for blog updates, personal stories, and behind-the-scenes action) and on Twitter @TendrilWild (for sassy moments and tweets about how much I love chocolate chip cookies). I would love to hear from you!