Lifestyle Tefi Pessoa on How She Became TikTok's BFF: 'I Was Talking to Myself, Too' “I feel like I was put on Earth to make everybody feel more comfortable at the dinner party that is life,” the TikTok star tells PEOPLE By Andrea Wurzburger Published on April 22, 2022 01:52 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos Photo: BRENDAN WIXTED If you follow Estefanía Vanegas Pessoa, a.k.a. Tefi, on TikTok, you already know that her BFF vibe is undeniable. Whether she's breaking down celebrity relationship histories or talking you through a breakup, the Miami native's account can make you feel like you just hopped on the phone to check in with your best friend. That's because, Tefi explains in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, she's "letting you." Like so many of us at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tefi downloaded TikTok in early 2020 and started making content. Since then, she has managed to create a not-so-little, supportive, virtual family of 1.4 million followers. While chatting with Tefi, she often checks in with me. The conversation is peppered with, "Did you ever feel like this?" and "Do you know what I mean?" Sometimes it feels like she is trying to interview me while I'm interviewing her. And so, it's no surprise when she tells me, "I feel like I was put on Earth to make everybody feel more comfortable at the dinner party that is life." That is the crux of her content: "It's the stuff I wish I heard at 15. My mom was extremely present in my life, but there are just some things you can't talk to your mom about." She jokes, "You don't want to tell your mom that your boyfriend is cheating on you because then she won't like him and he can't come over after school!" So she's becoming the person she wished she once had, "somebody to tell me, 'Hey, you're important and more special than you think you are, but simultaneously less. Relax a little bit, have fun, take care of yourself.' That's the energy I wanted," she shares. While she certainly sticks to her pop-culture roots (she hosted a pop culture-focused YouTube show before she joined TikTok and now serves as InStyle's exclusive TikTok host), Tefi's account has become a place where she gabs about pop culture like you would with a friend over brunch and also where her followers ask really direct advice about their relationships. A place where she offers encouragement and even some tough love. Watch Selena Gomez and Camila Cabello Lip-Sync to a Dance Moms Scene While Hanging Out in a New TikTok She explains, "I don't personally know [the follower], but if I can talk to her about her first breakup while making it feel like it's not this incredible, Mount Everest, uphill climb in her life and I can use Hailey and Justin Bieber for that, why not? It's like when moms tell kids they're giving them mac and cheese, and then switch it out for a vegetable." Just because she is being that voice for others, doesn't mean that she doesn't need to hear it, too, she says. "I look back at videos from a year ago and I think, 'Nobody knows this, but I was talking to myself too at that time.' " When it comes to her content, though vulnerable, Tefi says that she tries not to make it about herself and her own experience. She asks, "What good is it to share my story if we don't get to do it together and have a moment where we both feel more understood?" Meet Elyse Myers: What to Know About the Comedian Who Shot to TikTok Fame for Viral 'Worst Date Ever' Video Part of facing the difficult aspects of social media is just deciding, she says. "The decision is easier than we think, but I have to decide. If I'm going to be a person that wants to be seen, then I have to be a person that wants to be seen. I have to ask to be seen," she explains, adding, "I'm not going to live my whole life watching somebody do what I think I could do better. I'd rather have tried and failed." BRENDAN WIXTED Plus, she adds, people are going to talk about you no matter what. "Baby! Linda! They are screenshotting your selfies regardless. You're going in the group chat regardless. The best part is you'll never see it!" She wasn't always this confident. She jokes, "If my confidence was a cartoon, it would be the Ice Age squirrel. It was not good. And the little nut that it's chasing was literally male attention. The screaming, the pulling!" Growing up as "the last generation that remembers childhood before the Internet" meant constantly being on display. She says that when she turned 29 and joined TikTok, "I think it got to the point where I knew that there was nothing else for me to do that I could enjoy, if not being myself." And what kind of BFF would she be without leaving us with a piece of advice to make that decision for ourselves? "Imagine I'm sitting in front of you and I'm telling you there's somebody on my team that thinks I'm stupid, that thinks I'm ugly, that doesn't think I'm funny, that doesn't think I'm talented, and doesn't think I deserve the opportunities I have. Somebody in the team that I work with every day. In fact, I'm around them all day and I know that they feel this way about me and they're saying it behind my back," she says. And then, she asks, "What would you tell me to do? You'd tell me to fire them. Don't poison your own team by being that person for yourself. Why would you poison your own well before you can even start? That's all I will say."