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What I've Learned, | Mar 06, 2017

D.J. Glander, stroke survivor

Against the odds, the Indiana University student is a survivor with an unwavering optimism and zeal for life.

After somersaulting in his mother’s womb, baby D.J Glander suffered an ischemic stroke. For the past 21 years, he’s been treated at Riley Hospital for Children for epilepsy and Cerebral Palsy, and has undergone major surgeries to treat his underdeveloped right arm and leg. Glander, now at IU, shares with 812 what he’s learned from living disabled.

If you fall seven times, get up eight more times

When I was growing up, I’d see a kid playing on the monkey bars, which you need two hands for, and when I’d try I would fall flat on my face. But I kept trying, and eventually I learned how to do it one-handed. It took a lot of quick, split-second grasps of the handle. Perseverance will always lead to success, but only if you want it badly enough and keep at it.

Forgiveness is a blessing

Being subjected to bullying and stares at such a young age helped me mature much faster than everyone else my age. When someone does me wrong, I talk to them about what happened, and then I forgive them. I just see the world differently, I guess. I can see the good in people and give them a second shot.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Everyone has his or her own story and struggles. We all judge — even I’m judgmental at times. But, then I feel bad because I know if I point a finger at someone, there are five pointing back at me. My disabilities have given me more clarity. People who are judgmental are hypercritical of others because they haven’t suffered the way I have. Every single person deserves a reason to be talked to, praised and liked. Even the bullies.

Just be yourself

I wish all the people-pleasers would stop. I want to tell them to just be themselves and not to try so hard. You won’t go anywhere, and you’ll attract the wrong people in your life. Freshman year of high school, I flipped to a bunch of cliques to see where I’d truly fit in. I hung out with the jocks, the nerds, the shy guys and the ones who were over the top. In the end, I unexpectedly found myself sticking with the jocks. We shared a mutual interest of football and developed a brotherly bond. You’ll never know who you can connect with until you’re yourself — it might surprise you. 

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