Rodrigo Bustamante is a Cuban-American creative from Miami, Florida. He is currently attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain scholar where is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Global Studies and minors in Sustainability and Entrepreneurship.
Rodrigo has dedicated much of his young adult life to art and environmentalism and has developed a passion for telling stories through photography, videography and creative writing. His portfolio ranges from personal projects, to roles working in creative direction and product marketing.
Rodrigo is intimate in the work he produces because he strives to be connected to a greater audience, a greater story. Today, he is most interested in understanding the ways people internalize climate change and widespread ecological degradation in our world.
In my junior year of high school, I created “whoisrodb” – an alter ego of sorts. For a couple years I had been struggling with an identity crisis… I had fabricated a persona that was a bit cold and detached, overly ambitious and stubborn; worse than these, I was afraid to feel, to be unconventional and to live freely. Despite living this lie, this was the person my friends and family had come to know and love.
As a result of these external pressures, I began to lock away my crazy dreams because I was afraid to start over. I kept telling myself that I was perfectly happy with where I was... boy was I wrong. It ate me up inside that I wasn’t doing anything that brought me to life.
Things began to click during my third year of high school. I realized that this fabrication was exhausting – I couldn’t keep up with it anymore. I created whoisrodb as a way to divert from the person many knew and start fresh. I wanted people to reconsider what they thought of me, I literally wanted them to ask “Who is Rod B?”
Upon opening these floodgates of sorts, I allowed a part of myself, that I had suppressed for so long, to come to the forefront. At the end of the day, I had to choose between a sensible fabrication and an unconventional reality – I opted with the latter.
Whoisrodb is probably the most profound thing I’ve ever created because it has given me a space to share my lived experiences with the world.
I read The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun in the summer of 2017. At the very beginning of the book there is a quote by Howard Thurman that says: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I always asked myself what the world needed from me, but never asked myself what I needed. With this new outlook, I’ve come to life now. I’m happier than ever, thinking critically, asking the big questions… I’m simply pursuing my dreams.
After thinking about everything, I don’t know if I will ever be able to fully figure out who I am – I’m going to continue evolving because that’s what life is all about. Whoisrodb has always been far more than just a clever account name… and I am looking forward to keeping it that way for years to come.