“I have a purpose.”
Meet Ernest, a 28-year-old Memory Maker living in Orlando, Florida. Like many of us, Ernest spent the vast majority of 2020 battling obstacles that were out of his control. “Since the pandemic started and I was laid off [from Disney], I had four seizures,” he said. “Before last year I have never had a seizure.”
On top of reeling from the loss of his job and dealing with major health issues, Ernest had another responsibility: caring for his newborn son. “I had a baby in December 2019, so 2020 being the way that it was made it 10 times as hard for my family,” he said. But the strength their son provided them by simply being in this world? Unmatched. “With the love and joy our son provides, we can’t be broken.”
But 2020 also lended itself to some major mental breakthroughs as well, showing Ernest that a healthy mindset goes a long way. “Before I was all about going 110 percent at work and coming home tired and defeated,” he said. “Nowadays I’m more about balance. It’s about learning how to be great at what you do while also being great for the people that you love!”
Though Ernest no longer finds himself employed by The Mouse, he has proven that the Memory Maker spirit, the desire to be a beacon of light in someone else’s life, is part of who he is regardless of where he finds himself.
“I met an older woman a few months ago at Winn Dixie who was extremely friendly. When she was walking back to her car, a person sped through the parking lot and almost hit her,” he said. “She jumped out the way but dropped a few things from her cart on the ground and the bags bursted. She started crying because she said that was all the money that she had.”
What Ernest did next is nothing short of a selfless, kindhearted act.
“I took her back in the store and bought the groceries that had spilled out,” he said. “She cried and thanked me as I walked her to her car. She didn’t know it but I used the last of my money because it felt like the right thing to do.”
And that’s who Ernest is. The man who will show you kindness because it is simply his nature, and use the last of his money on someone else to turn their day around.
When Ernest isn’t spreading his light to everyone he meets, he’s indulging in some of his favorite things. “I love theatre, doing comedy, singing and podcasting!” he said. “I truly believe performing and Disney helped me make it out of the hood.” And despite the pandemic being a source of anxiety, Ernest found a way to tap into the things he loves. “There wasn’t much else to do in the first few months so I rediscovered my love for performing,” he said. He’s even working on a podcast that’s going to center around 90s nostalgia, something we can all get on board with.
But one of his biggest goals? Ensuring kids in his hometown have an abundance of opportunities. “I would love to build schools for performing arts in the communities I grew up in around Chicago!” he said. “I didn’t have a lot as a kid so not too many Black kids in those areas get the chance to perform on a big scale.”
So what does being a Memory Maker mean to Ernest? “Constantly going above and beyond no matter what is thrown your way,” he said. “Keep the passion however you can.” Whether it’s helping your friends and family, investing in self-care and checking in with your mental health, or donating your time and effort to social causes, it all matters and contributes to the bigger picture: being the best version of yourself despite the hurdles you may encounter.
And that’s exactly what keeps Ernest going, even in his toughest moments. “My life hasn’t been easy since birth,” he said. “I’ve been through things myself that a lot of people don’t make it out of. That tells me that I’m here for a reason. I have a purpose.”
Feeling inspired? Ernest has some extra wisdom to impart that will help you on your own path to achieving the Memory Maker mindset:
“If things were meant to be easy we would live in a completely different world. Find things that motivate and encourage you and use them to go above and beyond. It’ll all work out the way it should in the end. Peace and love!”