“To This Day” … for the bullied and beautiful | Shane Koyczan


Translator: Joseph Geni
Reviewer: Morton Bast There’s so many of you. (Laughter) When I was a kid, I hid my heart under the bed,
because my mother said, “If you’re not careful,
someday someone’s going to break it.” Take it from me: Under the bed
is not a good hiding spot. I know because I’ve been
shot down so many times, I get altitude sickness
just from standing up for myself. But that’s what we were told. “Stand up for yourself.” And that’s hard to do
if you don’t know who you are. We were expected to define ourselves
at such an early age, and if we didn’t do it,
others did it for us. Geek. Fatty. Slut. Fag. And at the same time we were
being told what we were, we were being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always thought
that was an unfair question. It presupposes that we can’t be
what we already are. We were kids. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a man. I wanted a registered
retirement savings plan that would keep me in candy
long enough to make old age sweet. (Laughter) When I was a kid, I wanted to shave. Now, not so much. (Laughter) When I was eight,
I wanted to be a marine biologist. When I was nine, I saw the movie “Jaws,” and thought to myself, “No, thank you.” (Laughter) And when I was 10, I was told that my parents left
because they didn’t want me. When I was 11, I wanted to be left alone. When I was 12, I wanted to die.
When I was 13, I wanted to kill a kid. When I was 14, I was asked
to seriously consider a career path. I said, “I’d like to be a writer.” And they said,
“Choose something realistic.” So I said, “Professional wrestler.” And they said, “Don’t be stupid.” See, they asked me what I wanted to be, then told me what not to be. And I wasn’t the only one. We were being told
that we somehow must become what we are not, sacrificing what we are to inherit the masquerade
of what we will be. I was being told to accept the identity
that others will give me. And I wondered, what made
my dreams so easy to dismiss? Granted, my dreams are shy, because they’re Canadian. (Laughter) My dreams are self-conscious
and overly apologetic. They’re standing alone
at the high school dance, and they’ve never been kissed. See, my dreams got called names too. Silly. Foolish. Impossible. But I kept dreaming. I was going to be a wrestler.
I had it all figured out. I was going to be The Garbage Man. (Laughter) My finishing move was going
to be The Trash Compactor. My saying was going to be,
“I’m taking out the trash!” (Laughter) (Applause) And then this guy,
Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, stole my entire shtick. (Laughter) I was crushed, as if by a trash compactor. (Laughter) I thought to myself,
“What now? Where do I turn?” Poetry. (Laughter) Like a boomerang,
the thing I loved came back to me. One of the first lines of poetry
I can remember writing was in response to a world
that demanded I hate myself. From age 15 to 18, I hated myself for becoming the thing that I loathed: a bully. When I was 19, I wrote, “I will love myself
despite the ease with which I lean toward the opposite.” Standing up for yourself
doesn’t have to mean embracing violence. When I was a kid, I traded in homework
assignments for friendship, then gave each friend a late slip
for never showing up on time, and in most cases, not at all. I gave myself a hall pass
to get through each broken promise. And I remember this plan,
born out of frustration from a kid who kept calling me “Yogi,” then pointed at my tummy and said,
“Too many picnic baskets.” Turns out it’s not that hard
to trick someone, and one day before class, I said, “Yeah, you can copy my homework,” and I gave him all the wrong answers
that I’d written down the night before. He got his paper back
expecting a near-perfect score, and couldn’t believe it when he looked
across the room at me and held up a zero. I knew I didn’t have to hold up
my paper of 28 out of 30, but my satisfaction was complete
when he looked at me, puzzled, and I thought to myself, “Smarter
than the average bear, motherfucker.” (Laughter) (Applause) This is who I am. This is how I stand up for myself. When I was a kid, I used to think that pork chops
and karate chops were the same thing. I thought they were both pork chops. My grandmother thought it was cute, and because they were my favorite,
she let me keep doing it. Not really a big deal. One day, before I realized fat kids
are not designed to climb trees, I fell out of a tree
and bruised the right side of my body. I didn’t want to tell my grandmother because I was scared I’d get in trouble for playing somewhere
I shouldn’t have been. The gym teacher noticed the bruise,
and I got sent to the principal’s office. From there, I was sent to another
small room with a really nice lady who asked me all kinds of questions
about my life at home. I saw no reason to lie. As far as I was concerned,
life was pretty good. I told her, whenever I’m sad,
my grandmother gives me karate chops. (Laughter) This led to a full-scale investigation, and I was removed
from the house for three days, until they finally decided
to ask how I got the bruises. News of this silly little story
quickly spread through the school, and I earned my first nickname: Porkchop. To this day, I hate pork chops. I’m not the only kid who grew up this way, surrounded by people
who used to say that rhyme about sticks and stones, as if broken bones hurt more
than the names we got called, and we got called them all. So we grew up believing
no one would ever fall in love with us, that we’d be lonely forever, that we’d never meet someone
to make us feel like the sun was something they built
for us in their toolshed. So broken heartstrings bled the blues, and we tried to empty ourselves
so we’d feel nothing. Don’t tell me that hurts
less than a broken bone, that an ingrown life
is something surgeons can cut away, that there’s no way
for it to metastasize; it does. She was eight years old, our first day of grade three
when she got called ugly. We both got moved to the back of class so we would stop
getting bombarded by spitballs. But the school halls were a battleground. We found ourselves outnumbered
day after wretched day. We used to stay inside for recess,
because outside was worse. Outside, we’d have
to rehearse running away, or learn to stay still like statues,
giving no clues that we were there. In grade five, they taped
a sign to the front of her desk that read, “Beware of dog.” To this day, despite a loving husband,
she doesn’t think she’s beautiful, because of a birthmark that takes up
a little less than half her face. Kids used to say,
“She looks like a wrong answer that someone tried to erase,
but couldn’t quite get the job done.” And they’ll never understand
that she’s raising two kids whose definition of beauty
begins with the word “Mom,” because they see her heart
before they see her skin, because she’s only ever
always been amazing. He was a broken branch grafted
onto a different family tree, adopted, not because his parents opted
for a different destiny. He was three when he became a mixed drink of one part left alone
and two parts tragedy, started therapy in eighth grade, had a personality
made up of tests and pills, lived like the uphills were mountains
and the downhills were cliffs, four-fifths suicidal,
a tidal wave of antidepressants, and an adolescent being called “Popper,” one part because of the pills, 99 parts because of the cruelty. He tried to kill himself in grade 10 when a kid who could still
go home to Mom and Dad had the audacity to tell him,
“Get over it.” As if depression is something
that could be remedied by any of the contents
found in a first-aid kit. To this day, he is a stick of TNT
lit from both ends, could describe to you in detail
the way the sky bends in the moment before it’s about to fall, and despite an army of friends
who all call him an inspiration, he remains a conversation piece
between people who can’t understand sometimes being drug-free
has less to do with addiction and more to do with sanity. We weren’t the only kids
who grew up this way. To this day, kids are still
being called names. The classics were
“Hey, stupid,” “Hey, spaz.” Seems like every school
has an arsenal of names getting updated every year. And if a kid breaks in a school
and no one around chooses to hear, do they make a sound? Are they just background noise
from a soundtrack stuck on repeat, when people say things like,
“Kids can be cruel.” Every school was a big top circus tent, and the pecking order
went from acrobats to lion tamers, from clowns to carnies,
all of these miles ahead of who we were. We were freaks — lobster-claw boys and bearded ladies, oddities juggling
depression and loneliness, playing solitaire, spin the bottle, trying to kiss the wounded
parts of ourselves and heal, but at night, while the others slept, we kept walking the tightrope. It was practice, and yes, some of us fell. But I want to tell them that all of this is just debris left over when we finally decide to smash
all the things we thought we used to be, and if you can’t see anything
beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror, look
a little closer, stare a little longer, because there’s something inside you
that made you keep trying despite everyone who told you to quit. You built a cast around your broken heart and signed it yourself, “They were wrong.” Because maybe you didn’t belong
to a group or a clique. Maybe they decided to pick you last
for basketball or everything. Maybe you used to bring bruises and broken
teeth to show-and-tell, but never told, because how can you hold your ground if everyone around you
wants to bury you beneath it? You have to believe that they were wrong. They have to be wrong. Why else would we still be here? We grew up learning
to cheer on the underdog because we see ourselves in them. We stem from a root planted in the belief that we are not what we were called. We are not abandoned cars stalled out
and sitting empty on some highway, and if in some way we are, don’t worry. We only got out to walk and get gas. We are graduating members
from the class of We Made It, not the faded echoes of voices crying out, “Names will never hurt me.” Of course they did. But our lives will only ever always
continue to be a balancing act that has less to do with pain and more to do with beauty. (Applause)

100 thoughts on ““To This Day” … for the bullied and beautiful | Shane Koyczan

  1. For the first time in my life I feel hope for a better future for me, my friends, my family and rest of the kids but there I remember my first depression and anxiety I felt no hope, no love because rest of the kids in my school only cares about popularity and status in school but when i thought there is no hope I've realized my friends, my friends SAVED me from thinking from suicide they cared about me and my future I've think of my friends as my family and now when I watch this video I just hope that one day everything will change for the kids future and for everyone so thank you, thank you so much for this for a better future.

  2. At 9:15 to 9:25 I'm getting bullied in middle school when they call me this names I just laugh with them but inside I wanna cry and just punch them but I know that I will get in trouble so I don't do it I get called hump back whale, fat a*s,and you ugly fat h*e and the bullies say if I tell the dean they will beat me up so I'm to scared to tell what should I do? By the way I have one question at the end was that his wife? And if it is she is beautiful!!! 🙂👍🙂

  3. Everybody has a broken side weather it's small or large so many use this side of them and eat at those who have so many issues that kill and naw at us everyday. and they don't know. They will never know

  4. it’s been 2 years and I still can’t find the right words to say about this

  5. I understand. And he understands.

    But I was never the bully, just the bullied. For 7 years straight. And I did nothing to deserve it, except be a nice kid.
    I wasn't fat either. I got called stick, twig. I was too thin, it was just my genetics; trust me, I ate plenty.
    I was called stupid, and gross. "DORK!"
    I had no friends at all. I wandered the play yard alone, living in my own head.

    Words most definitely hurt. If you ask me, they hurt more than sticks.
    "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me …." and then the sobs would come.
    That day when I tried to stand up for myself on the first day of 8th grade, the kid ripped me out of the desk I was in and threw me on the floor. The teacher saw it and did nothing. My mother talked to the administration and they did nothing. It was at that point, I said, "I will not go back to that school. I would rather go to Juvy." And I meant it.
    And then I got a new school, and finally, finally, the bullying stopped. I went to the inner-city, high minority, at-risk school. I came from my school of mostly white (low income) kids, and I went to this school where I was one of only 10 white kids. The other 390 were various shades of darker colors. I was the BEST school. The kids were nice, the administration had a zero-tolerance policy (which I'm sure made all the difference). Suddenly I had friends. I had 5 friends and I felt like the richest kid in the whole world.

    I'm 35 years old now, and every day I'm affected by that bullying. I still struggle with self-worth, I have no idea how to make meaningful friendships as an adult. I couldn't even begin to stand up for myself until I was about 30.
    The only way I survived the depression of my teenage years was by choosing to go to sleep instead of kill myself. Honestly, I was too depressed to kill myself – that would have taken effort, and I just had nothing left.

    I understand.

  6. I am bullied all my life and still am. I went to school my jr year and I was gonna end it that night I just wanted to spend time with my 2 friends before I pulled the trigger. I got to my last class of the day I was gonna go home and no one was gonna hear from me again. When I got to that class my teacher played this video and id like to say when I got home I put my gun away. This video saved my life.

  7. This poem really inspires me it's best in it's own way keep growing buddy🤗🤗🤗

  8. We watched this in class and i started crying and couldn't stop for how could I not put myself in their spots and see how terrible it is cause it's true. It sticks. It stays. I it's all scar that never fades, a horrible nasty purple and blue bruise that you can see yourself but no one else sees it. They can't see the pain. Can't see that even all the love you are given and words that are supposed to make you happy..they seem like lies. They feel like acid. It's so sad to know kids feel this everyday including me. Kids so small want to take their own lives so young. When they have a full family full of love they feel so alone and broken. They won't to go away. Words hurt. I hope I can help someday just like this man. Thank you.

  9. “Smarter than the eve ridge bear muthafucker” hahah that was funny 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

  10. I almost cried omg this is such a masterpiece 👌🏻👌🏻😭😢😢

  11. I come back to this video over and over. This and Andrea Gibson’s “Living Proof” Are probably my two most inspiring poems to just listen to over n over.

  12. He is part of how I discovered spoken word poetry. I love it… hope one day I can inspire others like this.

  13. I’ve been watching this over and over again for years It’s so inspiring

  14. Even after a video about stuff like this nothing changes my mind in what I believe in.

    You get rough nothing can hurt you, you look out for yourself and nothing can touch you.

  15. Wow, Beautifully said. Tears are streaming and flooding my face. A familiar place I been before.Bullied from youth to adulthood that put me in a awful place with myself until I made the decision at 55 years old to take the gift of my power to a place it's never been and not to accept this demonic abuse of others.That was just 3 days ago. What a awesome video it lifted me up. Thank you for sharing your story.

  16. This video/project will never be forgotten it will be put down in history

  17. This guy is amazing, I’ve seen and heard his other speech “To this day” and he seriously made me cry, thank you for being to inspirational

  18. This, is one of the things that keeps from death. Life grabs my hand, leading me on a path. But at night, death comes and reaches out to me. It grabs me, separating me from the life. The body stays but the soul goes, tricking the life. The life sees me, only noticing the the difference. Searching for me. The sun arises while death runs away with me. It runs, not noticing it was disappearing. The sun shone on it. It disappears, turning into flowers. I sit there, waiting for something. Life finds me, sitting in the sun. While the death respawns. Respawing at a set spawn point. In the middle of a dark forest. Life hides me, its body aching from the feeling of death taking me. Life pretending its asleep, death comes. Reaching for my hand once again. The life perks up, grabbing my other hand. It's a continuous tug of war.

  19. First heard this in 7th grade, now relistening in my second semester of college. This is amazing and his other poems are just as strong.

  20. I think he’s got a really great storytelling voice, I’m always jealous of people who can do that. Of course, it helps that he’s AN ANAZING FRICKING POET.

  21. So I spammed the like button and seemed to only give the video one like. can someone help me fix this problem?

  22. Still love this video.. I remember seeing it for the first time and it made me smile because I did the same thing in High school.. I was in advanced math classes with upper class-men so of course I didn't fit it, was seen as a nerd. There was a girl that would always copy my answers. I couldn't stand her, so when day I went down the list and added 2 to every answer. She got a 0… I got 100%. Hilarious.

  23. This is a inspiration to me when I’m watching it I know I should keep trying to get better at my drawing skills and on my work Ów’Q and this makes me feel like I can do anything!Thank you for the inspirations(god bless you)👼

  24. I've this before but by someone else but still hits me in the feels. This is a very serious talk and topic but the why he said mirror almost made me lose it.

  25. I absolutely love this video and I've watched it over 100 times at this point

  26. "When I was a kid, I used to think that pork chops and karate chops were the same thing. I thought they were both pork chops."

  27. To this day he hates pork chops because he knows he was abused and he knows he deserved to be rescued but instead they called him weak so he lied to himself and believed them. I am so sorry. I am here for you and I don't care what you've done because everyone deserves to be loved so that they never have to become a bully. Xoxo your just like my little brother Seth

  28. I'm still here because society won't accept me, not that I won't accept society.
    I still have people who care, though I don't care for people, because I am just so used to the hurt they caused me everyday of my life.
    Only a few understand that the ones who accept need to be accepted as well.

    Thank you Shane, for this beautiful poem.
    I'm sure it speaks to a lot of us.

  29. This I know all too well. Thanks for putting my thoughts to words.

  30. I remember watching this back in middle school. and feeling this so hard. but now looking back. I am aware of a light that I have now arrived to that was at the end of the tunnel I was in. just. everyone reading this in tough times. hope is coming.

  31. The people who disliked were crying to hard and missed the like button

  32. I can recall this whole poem by memory, I’ve listened to it so much, it’s probably not healthy

  33. I first saw this in school, and to this day I know every lyric.

  34. I was in the kitchen one day i was about to cut my wrists again but until my sister seen me about to cut my wrists she took the knife away and showed me this video and it touched my heart and hope has been risen thank u so much for this help u really helped me out

  35. I like the mirror part, it is like my life I see myself as a ugly person

  36. wow this is just wow i dont have any words. except that this is amazing

  37. I can relate with this I'm bullied in school I tell my dad and mom they say hit or punch then kids try to pick fight with me…..I've told the teachers BUT THEY DO NOTHING! my dad calls me names like the bullies do…. I'm still here I want to live but I have no one to go to I'm lost this video help thank you so much!

  38. I held my breath, holding back tears, face red, just to keep my divorced father from hearing my crying. He knows I’m depressed… crippled. But I wasn’t only crying out of self pity, I cried because it’s true— the words they told me aren’t true because I am still here.

  39. I bet some of the people in the crowd were probably one of the kids that called him a porkshop

  40. This isn't to this day it's when I was a kid you added the wrong song ..

  41. Word to the wise, watch beforehand. This came up under talks students should hear yet he cusses. Be warned. Loved his message but not appropriate for a classroom

  42. I've been taught that my emotions are unfounded. That I deserved the mistreatment from my peers. In a traditional setting there isn't a single person who could contest that.. or who would care to. So my education as a young adult, a child, was to believe that the reason I was being mistreated was because I was inferior. Weird.

  43. This came out the day before I started being bullied, I just wish I could of seen this sooner, I actually cut myself from the depression I have, my parents say I don’t have any kind of depression, I think I have psychotic depression, I make myself see things that aren’t there, I know that it’s not real but I keep telling myself that it is, I just moved to high school and it’s a bully free one too, but still, im being called ugly, a mutt, a crybaby a whiner, it just keeps happening, and then I get in trouble for not doing work? I’m not doing work because I’ve started to HATE my life, this video only somewhat helped me, I still feel anger and sadness, I question why people do this to me, I used to be called blockhead, acne face, stupid and much more, my online friend made me feel just a little better by showing me this video, and the more I watch it, the more I cry, because I feel like I’m NEVER going to find someone who loves me I feel like I’m NEVER going find someone who truly CARES, I’m just a mess…..I hope that whoever has this same problem, gets it all fixed, there may still be scars from your past, but they’ll never show… keep smiling! 😊

  44. I heard this for the first time when I was eleven and it's been six years. I still cry every time I listen to it

  45. thx you this vid helped me to figer out that what ppl say is worng i just need to belive in myself

  46. All those dislikes are from the people who were the bullies and don’t want to think that’s they were wrong

  47. Shane was the one who originally got me into spoken word poetry. I have listened to everyone of his poems, I have looked in many different places because sometimes there’s an old one I hadn’t heard before.. he is amazing. I’ve listened to his poems for a long time, I probably started in grade five. My mother had been dead and I was in the process of figuring out how to leave my father. I did. But, Shane helped me through it. Through all the poems I have listened to, each one isn’t so hard to wrap my mind around, despite it being so complex. Shane is an anomaly. There is absolutely no one else like him. I have searched for other spoken word poets, there aren’t any like him. None that can tackle any sort of topic in the way he can. His voice makes you feel more, and the words? The words make it almost unreal. I can’t explain to you the admiration I feel for this man. I write poems now. I have won public speaking competitions. Shane is my role model, and I won’t let my dreams be crushed.

  48. I've been called scar since the fourth grade because I have a scar along my back from child hood everyone saw it in third grade for swimming the teachers gasped the girls laughed and pointed the boys whispered and pushed there is no escape…

  49. i found this video 3 days ago and i’ve come back everyday since

  50. Run yourself a nice hot bath, light 3 candles, turn off the lights, and immerse yourself in this, and at 7:54………let those years fall…..and smile…..knowing…..that there is such beauty in this world. ❤️

  51. My teacher showed the class this… I cried because I'm 12 it's sad I transferd and now i still get bullied 😔 its inspiring..

  52. Also the thing about kids if a kid is trying to ignore or not respond as usual to a kid calling them something they're seen as unstable the unusual type and in today's school system you don't wanna be seen as the unstable one so there's not much choice these days be ridiculed and not say anything or do anything about it or talk back and do something and be seen as the one everyone should watch out for?

  53. Omg 4:24 –5:00 so savage. Yet so smart. Aww man that was so funny.

  54. omg… reading these reviews makes me now know what the world is really like. i’ve been anti social lately. i’m glad i have been. this world can be horrible. it can also be inspiring. i love this. i am going to be watching this a lot more. thank you TED. this world can be amazing. this world can be cruel. this world can be… horrible. i’ve delt with so many thing i can’t explain! but i’m lucky to have my channel and my friends and family. i love you all so much!!

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