I believe that when you’re born with a disability, you are born with a superpower many spend years yearning for. That superpower that I speak of is the ability to introspectively understand life and all of its happenings from a much more profound perspective than most. I feel as though it is most people’s first instinct to feel badly for someone in a wheelchair, someone that walks with crutches, or someone that is otherwise challenged. My divine purpose in life is to alter that perspective. I want to be able to impact people; for people to look me straight in the eyes and tell me that they did not give up on life because they read my story.
I wish I could sit here and tell all of you that I have always had a positive mindset about my disability, but that is simply not the truth. This is not something that fell out of the sky one day. This is an outlook that took at least 13 years to foster and nurse. It was the understanding that being told ‘no’ or you’re not good enough meant to try harder. It was not an excuse to give up, but rather, a mission to prove others wrong. To show them that that no would eventually be turned into a yes no matter how hard I had to push forward.
The challenges I faced, ones that once ravaged my self-esteem worse than any hurricane are things I now give thanks for. This might sound outlandishly crazy to you, and maybe it is crazy, but I am glad those challenges that stared me in the face for so long were relentless. It is through these challenges that I learned who I really was and what I was put on this earth to do.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Karla Culbertson. I am 30 years old and wheelchair dependent due to Cerebral Palsy. I would term my Cerebral Palsy as more or less moderate. I am not able to walk at all, but I am fortunate enough to have pretty extensive use of my hands. While this may seem like a blessing to many others out there, especially those affected more adversely, I am here to tell you that no matter the type or cause, being wheelchair dependent is never easy to come to grips with.
There were endless teasing battles, many shots to my self-esteem and self-worth. I would wake up each morning dreading having to face the halls of high school, which so eagerly awaited me with full belly laughs and stares. Of course this is never anything anyone wants to deal with, but when you’re different to begin with, that is what makes it so much more difficult.
I am proud to say, though, that despite all I have had working against me, including my daily challenge of never being able to live fully independently, I went to college (something many thought would never happen) to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work from Southeastern Louisiana University.
My compassionate nature and want to help others sure lends itself to my social work degree title. However, social work is not something I practice directly. Instead, I use my writing skills to encourage, uplift, inspire, and furthermore, change lives. I am currently an Independent writer for blurb books, and I currently have two poetry books on sale on their website. My most current project includes a memoir in which I detail my life story in order to give others hope, disabled and non-disabled alike.
The challenges that we face on a daily basis surely present hurdles, but if you want to achieve something badly enough, you will be brave enough to leave those hurdles in the dust. I know they will never completely fade away, but with some assistance, they can surely lessen. Never let anyone tell you what you want to do is impossible. Nothing worth earning and going after is impossible, no matter the magnitude and scope of your challenges.