Lying to Myself

Having low self-esteem haunts you like the monster under the bed when you were little. You turn out the lights and there it waits, excitedly attempting to sink its teeth into your skin. You scream out loud waiting for it to leave you alone, but it is relentless. No matter how hard you try, it will always remain a part of your life and your mind.

Enter in my teen years. It was like looking into a mirror with broken pieces. Each fragment of glass representing a piece of my broken soul. This was made even more difficult when my own teachers and students were looking to destroy who I was. Little did they know, I was already struggling with that more than enough on my own. They were just adding fuel to the fire, so to speak.

For so many years, I tricked myself into thinking “I was just like everyone else.” I did not want to need the special treatment that was required for someone with a disability. I felt like a burden to those who had to help me, especially when presented with their sour attitudes. I began to feel like I was taking up valuable space on this fruitful Earth so lying to myself and telling myself I was not any different than facing the truth.

Night after night, I lied awake in my bed waiting for the monster living inside of me to creep of its miserable hole and snake around my throat, chocking all the air out of my already depleted lungs. I knew deep down that this was no way to live, but I hadn’t the slightest clue to come up for air.

Then, I discovered my best friend in music. Each melody taking me away from my real life into a transplanted world where everything was OK. Where I wasn’t the only one hurting because of my differences. Gradually and rather slowly, music opened the world for me again and taught me to stop lying to myself. I was finally ready to face my deep dense truth. The reality that I would always have to depend on others to survive.

It was, of course, a hard pill to swallow, but if I didn’t just suck it up and face reality, my life would never move forward. It is all about creating the delicate balance between what hurts you and what feels good and being at peace with that balance. This is perhaps the best lesson I could ever teach myself. Today, at almost 34 years old, even though I have chronic pain and struggle with the residual effects of my quadriplegic spastic Cerebral Palsy, I could not be happier with who I have become. I have been given the opportunity to represent the disabled community and our struggles with my gift of writing, and it means the absolute world to me! Lying to yourself make be the easier option, but the easier option is not always the best one.

Be proud of who you are, no matter what differences you may face. Live boldly and fearlessly. Your future self will thank you!

Karla Culbertson

Karla is a 33 year old independent writer. She is wheelchair dependent due to Cerebral Palsy, chronic pain, and hip dysplasia, but she does not let that stop her from enjoying life. It is Karla’s goal in life to inspire and uplift others. She loves writing positive blog posts that may have the potential of inspiring others and bettering their lives.

Why Authenticity is Important

If you’re a positive person, people assume that your life is sunshine and rainbows.

I find this is also true with all the youtube families I enjoy watching. I have seen people in the comment section asking about the creator’s perfect life and perfect relationship. I hate to bust those people’s bubbles, but there is no perfect life or relationship.

We all have our trials and tribulations. We all have fought back from some sort of darkness, whether it is the death of a loved one, the loss of a once great friendship, or just an inner struggle with ourselves. It is just that we want to give off a positive vibe to the world to keep everyone’s spirits elevated. Be honest no one would watch someone who filmed all of their fights with their significant others and other hard drama in their life. We, as viewers, want to see something that delivers a good message and makes ourselves as well as others smile.

I am the same way, though going through my chronic pain and everyday struggles have taught me to be more reflective about my issues and the well-wishes I need as I travel as diligently as possible through this journey. I have learned that not every day is perfect and that is okay. It is acceptable to be upset and miserable on some days. However, constant negative vibes will tend to send people the other way.

You have to be careful as to how you carry yourself. It is, of course, important for professional reasons as well. You do not want to seem like a negative beast to many of your potential employers. You also do not want to seem like someone who is high on mood enhancers.
It really is about not taking away from your authenticity while also putting your best foot forward. It is about evolving and growing as each year passes. It is about putting your priorities first. I am in no way suggesting to forget about others you love and care about, but instead to put their needs on a second playing field. We all need to take care of ourselves before we can care for others.

It is all about embracing self-love. Not in an arrogant sense of course, but instead embracing all of your flaws and moving forward despite all the people who told you that you would never amount to anything. It is all about being happy with yourself and the life you live, but this can only be done when you give yourself the utmost care!

Karla Culbertson

Karla is a 33 year old independent writer. She is wheelchair dependent due to Cerebral Palsy, chronic pain, and hip dysplasia, but she does not let that stop her from enjoying life. It is Karla’s goal in life to inspire and uplift others. She loves writing positive blog posts that may have the potential of inspiring others and bettering their lives.

Rolling Down My Path of Self-Awareness

Self-discovery is a bit like a winding road.

You never know when the curve in the road will cause you to veer off the road. We all experience our fair share of darkness and light. That is almost a given in any life, no matter how ordinary or lavish. It is about creating a delicate balance between the positive and the negative.

Growing up with a disability which requires me to be fully dependent on my wheelchair, I endured many shots to the heart. The distraught feelings I felt being the only person in a wheelchair in my high school had me hiding from myself. I was literally disgusted with myself. Even though deep down inside, I knew that my disability was not my fault, it still had me in the darkest nook of depression I had ever lived through. I couldn’t even look in the mirror without crying because I could not bear to see the person staring back at me. I wasn’t me, and I knew that I had to get my life in order before the worst happened, and I decided to leave this Earth on my own accord.

The first positive step in my journey to self-discovery was finding intricate understanding in music.

When I am feeling lost and alone, I tend to lean towards music because it is non-judgmental. Don’t get me wrong, I do have an amazing family and support system in my tight circle of friends, but music has always been my go-to source of comfort. Lifehouse has repeatedly filled my heart with hope that I am not alone. They taught me that struggle is a universal emotion, but everyone’s battle with it is fought differently. They essentially taught me to love myself again. I often refer to them as my band-aid, as they helped cover up the many scars that almost prevented me from coming up for air.

At the time that Lifehouse came out, I was awfully young. In fact, I was only 17. The age where you don’t really understand life and your hormones are a raging fire. As a consequence of your hormones being all over the place, I like to think that being a little misguided is a norm. Aside from those feelings, I was so happy that I had found refuge and solace in their music. Even today, they still help me through my most difficult times. I was finally feeling better about myself, and this was essential as I was about to journey to college, the forefront of self-awareness.

I was so excited to begin my college journey! It had been in the back of my mind ever since I was a freshman in high school! I figured that I would have to explain my disability less in college. Maybe by then, the majority of the students were mature enough to handle differences. Fortunately, I was correct. College was one of the best experiences! I received an amazing education, and I was happy with my major.
Figuring out my major as a social work student was the next big milestone in my self-discovery journey! I knew that I wanted to help less fortunate people than myself, and I definitely knew I had space in my heart to pursue this dream and niche. I was laser focused, making excellent grades and my heart was filled with an abundance of love and self-confidence.

With all of that being said, it is no secret that life does not always go as planned. I had worked extra hard in my undergraduate years, graduating with a 3.7 and I was on my way to my dream graduate school, The Tulane School of Social Work. It was a very beautiful campus lined with huge oak trees and some of the most ornate and beautiful buildings that were beyond pleasing to the eye! Even more pleasing than the appearance of the school was its ranking! It was rated among the top 30 schools of social work in the United States at the time! I was so proud of myself for overcoming all of the ugly times to achieve my ultimate dream! I was accepted as a student upon completion of my entrance essay, grades, and all other tidbits required for entrance into school. Elated didn’t even come close to describing my level of excitement!

Being a Louisiana native, New Orleans has always had a special place in my heart. It is so unique, colorful, and diverse. Not to mention how beautiful the city is in general! I was so excited to move there and begin my helping journey in the heart of the big easy! Like I mentioned before in an early paragraph, things do not always go as planned and not without reason.

Tulane was not at all what I had expected. The daydream of it was not all correct. Yes, I had some good times there and met some excellent people. However, in comparison to my undergraduate career, it was severely lacking. Also, I was not happy at all with the way I was treated at my internship by my supervisor. She told me that I was underperforming and did not know how to perform my job.
As a person with self-esteem issues and long-standing depression, that hurt. It was like a shot to the heart and the gut. I felt a sense of worthlessness and would have to embark on finding my way all over again.

They say everything happens for a reason. On the very same day, I received all the negative feedback, I got an email that told me that my loans were denied for the second semester. I would have to leave the school. When it first happened, I was ugly crying and completely devastated. I felt like all my dreams were crashing down on me!
However, now I see this as a blessing in disguise because now I see that the hardship of having to leave was God’s plan and way of telling me that I was not meant to be a social worker. I admire all social workers and the tireless work that they put into their jobs, but it is not for me.
It was through leaving the social work dream that I learned that writing was the niche for me. During the episodes of hopelessness and boredom, I began to write poetry again. After I had written roughly 30 poems, I came up with the idea of compiling these works into a self-improvement book. I did just that about 2 years later! I published my first book independently via blurb books! Two years later, I expanded my collection, and came up with 200 additional poems to publish a second book!

During the writing process, I realized something rather monumental! I was genuinely happy! I loved the challenge of writing, and just like reading does, it took me away from my reality for a moment in time!
This is when I realized I WAS and AM a writer. Having an identity as a writer makes me happier than I can ever imagine. This is the “it factor” in discovering my road to self-awareness! Fast forward to today: I am 33 years old, and because of the residual effects of my Cerebral Palsy and the aging process, I am having some physical health issues and chronic pain that prevent me from ever working outside of my home. Even though payment is not the ultimate goal for me right now, writing is the absolutely perfect line of work for me!

Since I am independent, I have no real deadlines and can take my time working on various projects, especially if the pain is too severe on any given day! I love working from my desk at home. It is comfortable and familiar, which is very important to me. I am a blogger and contributing writer for Project Wednesday, The Mighty, Her Story, and Thought Catalog. Even though I do not practice social work directly, I feel like the blessing of my writing can also help people using many of my skills in my writing that I learned while in college. I have had a tremendous year with my writing in 2017 in terms of visibility and publishing!

Each time a piece and published and shared with the world, I am so happy! You never know if a piece may impact or possibly even alter thinking enough to save a life. The journey to self-awareness has been filled with bumps and bruises, but of course, the sun always comes to greet me in the end, and I am happier right now than I ever been in my entire life!

Karla Culbertson

Karla is a 33 year old independent writer. She is wheelchair dependent due to Cerebral Palsy, chronic pain, and hip dysplasia, but she does not let that stop her from enjoying life. It is Karla’s goal in life to inspire and uplift others. She loves writing positive blog posts that may have the potential of inspiring others and bettering their lives.

Foregoing A New Year’s Resolution

Fireworks popping loudly in the vicinity are meant to wow with their colorfully vibrant displays. They are commonly used to celebrate the new year and new beginnings.

Normally, I am one of those people who tries to make new years resolutions. To give myself a base of what I wish to change or improve. This year, however, has been different. I made it a goal not to change anything.

I am more confident that I have been in all my almost 34 years.

I have had some amazing writing opportunities thrown my way and have taken advantage of every inch. I have felt so honored that I have been chosen to share some of my disability and personal stories with the world.

My writing style is full of profundity and truth. I enjoy writing to convey honesty and the genuine side. Sure, some of it may be turbulent and rough, but life is certainly not always perfect. Exposing some of my dark side has been very therapeutic for me. The negative things in your past tend to never stop resurfacing, no matter how hard you may try to push it away. Writing about it helps keep my emotions stable and in check. As someone who has attended professional counseling for several years, I can honestly say that writing sometimes works even better as a stress reliever. It is also helpful in reducing anxiety-provoking feelings.

I am just trying my best to be myself. Whether other people like it or not is up to them. I used to worry so much about what other people may think of me, including my freedom of expression. As I have grown older, I have shut down that insecurity. I have done that by realizing that in the end, my opinion of myself is what reigns supreme and matters most.

I know I am not the most beautiful person in the world appearance wise. However, I am satisfied with myself as a whole, and I believe that says more about me than any picture could ever convey. Just a few short years ago, I would not have been able to say that. In fact, I was often scared to look in the mirror because I hated the reflection staring back at me.

I have come an awfully long way, and I am extremely proud of the confident adult I have become. However, I know I can always improve. My overall goal is to be the best person I can possibly be without altering my authenticity. Attempting to fit in with others is a thing of the past. I understand I am not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that is fine. I am not going to taint my authenticity so that others will like me and accept me for who I am. Self-acceptance is quite the achievement, and it is something I certainly cherish.

Karla Culbertson

Karla is a 33 year old independent writer. She is wheelchair dependent due to Cerebral Palsy, chronic pain, and hip dysplasia, but she does not let that stop her from enjoying life. It is Karla’s goal in life to inspire and uplift others. She loves writing positive blog posts that may have the potential of inspiring others and bettering their lives.

The Reality of Bullying

As a 33-year-old woman who endured bullying in my teenage years, I feel it is only appropriate that I write a passage on it.

Recently, we have seen more about bullying across the internet. Every time I see something about kids ganging up on one another, whether it is for being different in their own ways or something as simple as skin color I think of the golden rule; treat others how you want to be treated. First, I would like to say that it breaks my heart to see the suicide stories that come along because of bullying. Yes, it is very sad, but in many ways, I know where the victim is coming from.

Bullying hurts. It scars you for life. Nothing monetary or otherwise is going to take away that pain. Take my story for instance. I was bullied because of my disability. These guys who will remain nameless thought it was hilarious that I have a startle reflex. Because of my Cerebral Palsy, I tend to startle easier than most people. Most people lose this reflex as they grow older and out of the baby phase.

For some reason, though, it doesn’t leave those of us with Cerebral Palsy. These guys used to think it was funny to slam their books down, so I would startle, and they would laugh. Of course, this hurts my feelings, so I told one of my teachers and they got suspended. Because of their treatment, I am still extremely sensitive to any kind of teasing, even if it is normally meant to be playful.

Let me reiterate. These feelings do not go away. Sure, now that I am older, I know that they probably teased me to make themselves laugh and feel better about themselves. It is what social workers call projection. It is the act of pushing your feelings on to someone else to achieve better self-esteem or worth.

It is sad that someone else should have to do that to be happy with themselves. Logically, it does not make much sense. However, if you look at it with more of a psychological angle, it makes more sense. This is not meant to excuse the behavior, but rather, to have a better understanding of why it is happening.

Of course, now that I am a grown woman, I have moved beyond the bullying. Of course, yes, it still does hurt my heart, but I bet you that my bullies have moved on with their lives, so I must do the same. In this discombobulated world, we need love more than ever. We just need to be kind to each other and remember that we are all human. We all yearn for acceptance and love. We all bleed red blood and are all are trying to achieve what we have been set forth to do. Life is not easy at all, but if we all band together to make some differences, it may make the world a better and more peaceful place to live.

Karla Culbertson

Karla is a 33 year old independent writer. She is wheelchair dependent due to Cerebral Palsy, chronic pain, and hip dysplasia, but she does not let that stop her from enjoying life. It is Karla’s goal in life to inspire and uplift others. She loves writing positive blog posts that may have the potential of inspiring others and bettering their lives.