Another Lost Boy Story by Rolando Etorma

It’s been a while since I’ve posted another lost story but I’m happy I did with my best friend and former roommate, Rolando Etorma. It was our last day being roommates before I moved out so I’m thankful for him for opening up and reaching out to me before leaving. He explains the importance of having a quality of life as a result of happiness and some of his family struggles with money. Read Roe’s story on how his mindset changed his outlook on life.

(This conversation is summarized based on voice memo recording and his permission)

A Time for Reflection and Growth

How’re you feeling lately with everything going on with the world?

The past couple of months, I know everyone has been going through it. It’s really a scary time of uncertainty, and everyone has been going through a full range of emotions. For me, it’s also a time for growth. If all of this didn’t happen I feel like I wouldn’t realize certain things. It’s interesting to see what people do with their time. It’s like a true test of character basically, since we are not continuously being distracted by other stuff. We’re all forced to really think about what’s going on in our lives, what we’ve been doing, and pondering the meaning of everything. It’s really a time for reflection for a lot of people, I think.

I’ve been trying to distance myself from social media during this lockdown. Too much consumption of social media is not healthy. It takes a toll on me -- I compare times when I’m on social media heavily vs. when I’m not, and I feel a lot happier when I’m not on it. The main reason I go on social media these past couple of weeks is to keep up with what’s been going on with the world. I hate to say it, but I feel like this recent radical movement of black lives matter and involvement from non-black people wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for this lockdown. Racism and police brutality have been around forever. This isn’t anything new. Most people are just not exposing themselves to it as much with the distractions of normal everyday life. Since we are in a lockdown and people are spending more time on their phones, the people who didn’t take it seriously before are constantly being exposed to these issues. And this is a good thing.

People are using this platform to spread knowledge and awareness rather than superficial things people would otherwise share. Even going as little as sharing posts on Instagram. It’s a chain. It will reach everyone, I don’t think there’s anyone on social media who hasn’t seen or read anything about what’s been going on. But at the same time, too much of it takes a toll on people’s mental health, especially black people. People still need to be more empathetic. 24/7 we’re being exposed to traumatizing shit. It’s important to keep talking about it, but it’s just as important to take a break from time to time when you absolutely need it.

Be Creative When You Are Inspired Not Because You Have To

How is your creativity as of late? Since most people are saying now’s the perfect time to do something creative.

I feel like there’s a lot of pressure for “creatives” in times like this. Now that you have all this free time, there’s a lot of pressure in believing that you should be doing the most work you’ve ever done in my life. But you don’t really have to. Everyone moves differently. You can’t force shit to happen. If you’re an artist, it’s hard to make meaningful work if you’re not inspired. It’s fine if you’re not working on anything. This can also be a time to reset and recharge. I know what it’s like to work on creative projects for consecutive hours and consecutive days without sleeping much. Sure, you can get a lot done, but you have to remember to take care of your physical health, especially your mental health. You don’t have to be working all the time.

Money Really Can’t Buy You Happiness

My dad was diagnosed with kidney failure when I was in 6th grade. Just seeing him going through it and struggling was tough. There’d be times when we would just be walking out in public, and would randomly pass out and fall flat on the floor. You know how parents are like, “what’re you going to do when I’m not here” and shit. It’s a lot of pressure. I felt like these situations shaped my values regarding money growing up. My dad’s blood type is uncommon. What that means for someone waiting for a kidney, they would have to wait an uncertain amount of years for one. And when someone donates their kidney, there is still a possibility of the body rejecting it. Dialysis and treatments are not cheap. My family has always been struggling with money, and I’ve always felt the pressure to get rich so my parents would no longer have to worry about anything.

When I was younger, like 6th grade - 8th grade I couldn’t really do much. During high school and college, I told myself I had to buckle down and make something out of myself. It’s tough because after high school I was battling the decision of being in the medical field because that was guaranteed to support myself and make money for my family. It was a hard decision but I realized I wouldn’t be happy if I chose to pursue the medical field. I can’t picture myself doing anything else other than something creative. It’s funny because my mom at first was pressuring me to do something in the medical field. Eventually, I made the decision to become a Graphic Designer. I just had to prove to them that this is what I want to do forever, and the money will come as long as I follow my passions. I say it’s funny because the shit that has to do with money or funds, I realize now, is not that serious. If something comes up now, it’s fine. It’s just money. We’re paying for my dad’s medical bills - it’s fine. He’ll get to live. It’s just money at the end of the day. No matter how much debt you’re in or no money at all, it’s fine because you have your life. You can still see your parents. I kind of learned that with them. We’re still in debt so we were like “fuck it, it’s just money, right?” Realizing as I got older, at the end of the day, it’s not that serious.

That’s the number one thing everyone worries about -- having money to live. A lot of people think they want to make money to have nice things, but that’s not going to make you happy. Being rich doesn’t mean you’re living. I think what makes you happy is your quality of life. As long as you get to walk the earth, and do what you want to do, it’s fine. At this point, I’m not trippin’ if I’m broke. As long as I’m happy that’s all that really matters. Doing anything artistic will make me happy, and all the money that comes after is just a plus. My dad was on the waitlist for a kidney from 2006 - 2018 so like 12 years. When he finally got it, a big weight was lifted off, not only my shoulders, but my family's’ shoulders too. I noticed they are a lot happier. Obviously, it wasn’t cheap, but ever since then, I’ve been feeling more blessed and happier than ever. I have a better outlook on life, too.

Trust In A Higher Power

My lowest moment in life would be that entire time period 2006 - 2018. I can’t think of anything worse than that. Constantly feeling uncertain. Juggling the questions - “Will I make money to take care of my family” or “If my dad is going to live”? A lot of low points in my life are stuff that deals with money. Let’s say, for example, I’m behind in school. There are semesters where I would fail multiple classes and it hits even harder because that’s even more of a waste of money. Even when I got into car accidents, I’m instantly thinking about costs rather than being thankful I’m still alive. But like I said before, at the end of the day, dude you’re still alive. You can be dead. Nothing will matter. With that in mind, all the low points suddenly don’t seem so bad anymore. You got to think about what you do have.

What’s temporary is temporary. Pain is temporary. People have different situations and different circumstances. At the end of the day, it’s up to them to help themselves. I’m lucky I was able to help myself with it. I know not everyone is religious too, but I believe that there really is a higher being. With all the bad stuff happening, you kind of wonder why is this happening? Why is this happening to me and why is this happening to them? Is there really a God? The truth of the matter is no one really knows if there’s a God. What's important is just knowing that someone will always be there. Someone will always be there no matter what happens. My biggest takeaway is trust in whatever you want to trust in. Whatever religion you are or whatever you believe in. Whatever you think makes the world work, if you trust in that, it will all make sense eventually.

Learn to Laugh and Have Fun In Life

When do you feel like your mindset switched for you?

I wasn’t always like this. I like helping people. I don’t really like having people worry about me or anything. That’s just the way I am. Growing up, I kept shit bottled in because I didn’t know how to express certain emotions. As I grew older I realized: problems and bumps in the road of life - there’s always going to be lows and highs no matter what. If your mindset is good or if your mindset is bad, bad shit is always going to happen eventually. The best advice I can give you: You have to remember there’s always going to be light at the end of the tunnel, as cliche as it sounds. There’s always going to be bad shit that’s going to happen to you. That’s a given. That’s life. What you take from each bad thing is what matters. These situations can make you stronger, or you can let it bring you down. The choice is yours. Your mindset is really the most important thing you have. You can be the richest person in the world. Just because you have money doesn’t mean your problems are automatically solved. It’s really what your mindset is. I know it’s easier said than done but people need to try to figure it out on their own. Take some time to reflect. Spend time recharging. Take care of your mental health. There’s always going to be bad shit that’s going to happen. You got to learn to laugh and have fun in life because life’s short. You never know when it’s going to end. When something bad happens, it’s a part of life. You gotta learn to let go of negative feelings because nothing good comes out of holding on to them.

Talking It Out Makes Me Feel Less Alone

How do you feel today and recently or anything else on your mind recently? Anything else on your mind?

There are some days where I’ll be going through it. I didn’t really know what I was going to talk about until I got here. I wanted to see what I would end up speaking about. I feel a lot better talking about it. It’s important to talk to someone about your feelings or have someone listen to you. When you put your emotions into words, it comes from the heart. When you bottle in your emotions, you feel alone. The feeling of being alone is one of the main causes of mental health issues. Growing up, I never really spoke about stuff like that. It feels good to let it out.

Thank you again brother for reaching out and showing your emotions and vulnerability throughout your story. Like I told you before, your mindset is truly a one of a kind and reflects on the light-hearted person you are. Continue to have a good quality of life and hopefully share that advice with others. May you stay rich in your life, not from money but with happiness. Check out his artwork through his Instagram (@reauxlandeaux)!

I appreciate you for taking the time to read his story. Always love. From one lost boy to another - here’s to our mental health and having a good perspective on our situations.

With love,

Another Lost Boy