My name is Kendra Gottsleben and I am a 2010 Augustana College graduate. I doubled majored in Sociology and Psychology with the hopes to someday help others in some way, shape, or form.
I have a very rare enzyme disorder called Mucopolysaccararidosis Type VI. I was diagnosed at the age of four. One in 215,000 people are diagnosed with this condition. My body is missing the enzyme that is needed to cleanse my cells, which causes a build-up of a gluey like substance that affects my connective tissue and other vital organs. I am honored to have been asked by Mike and Tim to contribute a blog post for Handicap This! When I asked what topic I should write about, the response I received was, “Kendra, what are you most passionate about?” I was immediately excited to begin!
I am most passionate about assisting others, whether they have or do not have a disability or medical condition, in realizing that who we are or what we look like should not stop us from reaching our dreams and goals. Despite my medical condition I have always been determined to not let others limit me in what I can and cannot do. I take every experience, no matter how good or bad, as a lesson to be learned as I press on toward my future. Life is a constant learning cycle for all of us”¦and that’s what we all need to remember.
I especially enjoy the time I am able to spend talking to others about achieving one’s potential and conquering life’s challenges. I often stress that as human beings we all have hurdles to overcome. It does not matter what we have to deal with in life. Life gets difficult at times, but without those obstacles, we would not be the people we are today.
Limits are only barriers to break through and letting these limits hinder us will never get us anywhere. I personally have always tried to take a positive approach on life. I was taught at a very young age that no matter what we look like or have to deal with in life, it is up to us as to the attitude we take. That’s what determines if our goals and dreams will be achieved.
I am a person who feels extremely happy and successful when others feel confident in themselves despite the challenges that life has thrown at them. The truth is that no one in society is perfect or has a perfect life. We all have to work hard in anything we want to reach. The key to success in life is to never give up and never stop from dreaming of new goals. The greatest successes are worth the diligent work it takes a person to accomplish them.
I live my life by a motto, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” For the past couple of years I have been working on a long time dream of mine – writing a book. The theme of the book is about the obstacles I have had in my life and how I have overcome them to accomplish all that I have set out for myself. Hopefully by the middle of this summer my book will be published. My personal hurdles have gotten to where I am today and for that I am grateful!
I want to leave you with one thought – if the obstacles and challenges had never occurred in your life, would you be where you are today?
By: Kendra Gottsleben
Center for Disabilities
Sanford School of Medicine
University of South Dakota