Thursday, 21 February 2013

To This Day Project - Shane Koyczan

"We made it."
- Shane Koyczan
If you haven't already, please take seven-minutes to watch this amazing video (below) by Canadian poet, Shane Koyczan, as part of an anti-bullying campaign.

As someone who was bullied for the majority of her childhood, this video definitely brought out some emotion in me. I had to take a few deep breaths to prevent myself from tearing up while watching it. Koyczan did an amazing job creating this and his narration couldn't have been better.

If public school taught me anything, it was that kids are mean. I didn't wear the latest trends or expensive clothes. My hair was short and a bit of a mess. My mom didn't enforce a bed time for me, so I was constantly tired and went to school pale, with puffy, dark circles under my eyes. There also was never much in the way of food in my mom's house, so I was abnormally skinny. I was also shorter than I should have been and took quite some time to start developing. All of that equaled a recipe for me to be the perfect target for bullies.

It didn't matter what grade I went into: I was targeted.

I was called everything from poor, to dirty, to "you dumb nerd." Although the first one was true, the last one never made any sense to me. I remember crying. A lot. I also remember my mom telling me to never cry, "It only gives them more ammunition to pick on you." In hindsight, she was absolutely right. But, I was too stubborn to listen to her and instead wished I could take my own life. Now, I wish I had been stronger.

When I was nine, I was told I'd need glasses. I was excited! I went out and got the biggest, ugliest glasses you could possibly imagine, despite my dad begging me not to get them. I don't know why, but I liked them!

As soon as I got to school the next day, I wish I had listened to my dad.

I walked into the school yard, beaming from ear to ear with my giant, ugly glasses on. And then I heard it. A snicker here. A snicker there. Then full-on laughter. What was going on? I looked around. Everyone was staring at me and laughing. I had never been more embarrassed. I'm pretty sure that event - and being called "four-eyes" - traumatized me. The day I discovered contact lenses, I never went back to wearing glasses. (If you've seen me wear glasses it either means I'm too tired to care or I'm really comfortable around you.)

Long story short, despite the years of bullying and sadness I endured, I made it through it all. Thankfully, I made friends with fellow "nerds" along the way and had very supportive teachers. In grade 11 and 12 (in my second and then third high school), things really began to look up for me and bullying started to become a thing of the past. By the time I got to University, I was able to put being bullied behind me and discover how awesome life could be is. University, by far, was the best time of my life. Even now, I'm still extremely happy.

Koyczan stresses that despite the bullying, you will make it through.

I couldn't agree more.

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