Living Intentionally

Brianna Madia living in the desert

Brianna Madia ’11, a writing and rhetoric graduate, has chosen a life and a landscape that encourage living with intention.

Photography: Courtesy of Brianna Madia

It’s the stuff social media dreams are made of — beautiful, young, nomadic couple, living in a van with their dogs, desert vistas in the background, and product promotion tastefully tied in with well-written, heartfelt prose.

But this social media celebrity has plenty of substance below the surface. To listen to her is to hear echoes of Thoreau’s “Walden.” “I wanted to see if there were something worth struggling for in living this way. And I fell in love with how intentional everything felt,” Brianna Madia ’11 says.

“Realizing how little I need has opened my eyes. I’m willing to be scared and nervous. This is what makes me feel alive.”

The world has taken notice. At the writing of this piece, Madia had 214,000 Instagram followers and is negotiating a book deal. The book will be a series of essays culled from her Instagram posts. Its publication will be the realization of a dream for Madia.

A writing and rhetoric major when at URI, Madia, until now, has shied away from calling herself a writer, favoring the term storyteller. “It felt safer to say storyteller,” she says.

Madia is honest about the fact that for a few years, post-college, she didn’t have a plan, felt like a failure, and was generally lost. And it’s that kind of honesty that wins over her followers.

Her advice: “The one thing I can promise you is that when you find your way — when you finally get that big break, that interview, that dream gig — and you’re looking back on those formative years…you will wish you were more patient with yourself. You will wish you were more proud of yourself. You will wish you were kinder to you than I was to me.”