"To This Day" ... for the bullied and beautiful | Shane Koyczan | Summary and Q&A

March 8, 2013
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"To This Day" ... for the bullied and beautiful | Shane Koyczan


This powerful and emotional spoken word poem explores the struggles of self-identity and bullying, emphasizing the importance of resilience and self-acceptance.

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Key Insights

  • 💔 Self-Identity: Society often expects individuals to define themselves at a young age, leading to self-doubt and external judgments that shape their identity.
  • 🌟 Dreams and Resilience: Despite criticism and discouragement, individuals should continue to pursue their dreams and find their true passions, as they can ultimately shape their identity.
  • ♂️ Bullying and Loneliness: The impact of bullying in childhood can have long-lasting effects, causing individuals to feel inadequate, lonely, and unlovable.
  • 🪧 Mental Health and Stigma: Mental health issues, such as depression, often carry a stigma, making it difficult for individuals to seek help and find understanding from others.
  • 🔍 Self-Acceptance and Empowerment: Embracing oneself and standing up for one's true identity can be achieved without resorting to violence or conforming to societal expectations.
  • ❤️ Beauty and Inner Strength: One's worth should not be determined by external appearances or societal standards, but rather by the strength of their character and the love they give and receive.
  • 🗣️ Empathy and Awareness: By understanding and empathizing with others' experiences, society can work towards creating a more inclusive and compassionate environment for everyone.
  • 🌱 Resilience and Growth: Every individual has the ability to overcome adversity and transform their pain into a source of strength and beauty in their lives.


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 jus... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the main theme of the video content?

The main theme of the video content is the importance of self-acceptance and standing up for oneself despite the negative labels and bullying faced in life.

Q: How does the speaker describe the impact of others defining our identity?

The speaker explains that when others define our identity at an early age, it becomes difficult to truly know who we are and to stand up for ourselves. This can lead to self-doubt and a sense of not belonging.

Q: How does the speaker express their own journey of self-discovery?

The speaker shares their personal experiences of wanting to be someone else when they were young, but eventually realizing the importance of embracing their true identity. They express their journey through humor and honesty.

Q: What is the significance of the speaker's use of poetry?

The speaker describes how their love for poetry helped them overcome self-hatred and embrace self-love. Poetry became a way for them to express their emotions and find healing in their journey towards self-acceptance.

Q: How does the speaker emphasize the impact of words and names?

The speaker explains how hurtful words and names can have a lasting impact on individuals, leading to feelings of loneliness, self-doubt, and a distorted self-image. They highlight the importance of recognizing the impact of words and choosing empathy and kindness instead.

Q: How does the speaker challenge the notion that we are defined by others' perceptions?

The speaker challenges the idea that we are defined by how others perceive us. They encourage individuals to look within themselves, find their own beauty, and reject the negative labels that others may try to impose on them.

Q: What message does the speaker convey to those who have faced bullying and adversity?

The speaker's message is that despite experiencing bullying and adversity, individuals should never let others' opinions define their worth. They encourage resilience, self-love, and finding beauty in oneself amidst the challenges faced.

Q: How does the speaker give hope to those who have faced difficult circumstances?

The speaker gives hope by expressing that despite the hardships faced, individuals can overcome and rise above adversity. They emphasize the strength and resilience within every person and encourage individuals to believe in their own capabilities.


In this powerful spoken word performance, author and poet Shane Koyczan shares his personal experiences growing up and facing bullying and self-doubt. He reflects on the pressure to define oneself and conform to societal expectations, and how it feels to be called names and made to feel less than worthy. Despite the struggles, he emphasizes the importance of standing up for oneself and embracing our true identities.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Shane Koyczan feel about himself as a child?

As a child, Shane Koyczan struggled with self-doubt and carried a fear of having his heart broken. He felt the need to hide his true emotions, leading him to keep his heart under the bed. The negative comments and name-calling he experienced contributed to his lack of self-esteem.

Q: Why did Shane Koyczan view the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" as unfair?

Shane Koyczan believed that asking a child what they want to be when they grow up assumes that they are incomplete or lacking in some way. He felt like it negated their current identity and potential, as if they couldn't fully be themselves until they became something else.

Q: How did Shane Koyczan handle being told what he couldn't be?

When Shane Koyczan expressed his desire to be a writer, he was met with discouragement and told to choose something more realistic. This pattern of being asked about his aspirations, only to be told they were unrealistic, was frustrating for him. Instead of conforming to these limitations, he embraced his dreams and found solace in poetry.

Q: How did Shane Koyczan cope with his struggles and bullying?

Shane Koyczan used his creativity and writing as a coping mechanism. He shares an anecdote about tricking a classmate by giving him the wrong answers on a homework assignment, finding a sense of satisfaction and empowerment in his own cleverness. His love for poetry and writing became a way for him to express his emotions and reclaim his identity.

Q: Why did Shane Koyczan continue to dream and pursue his passions?

Despite the dismissive attitudes and negative experiences he faced, Shane Koyczan kept dreaming and pursuing his passions. He turned to poetry as a means of self-expression and found that it became a way to validate and define himself in a world that often tried to diminish him. His dreams allowed him to embrace his uniqueness and stand up for himself.

Q: What impact did bullying have on Shane Koyczan's life and identity?

Bullying deeply affected Shane Koyczan's sense of self-worth and led to him hating himself during his teenage years. The negative comments and derogatory names he was called left a lasting impact on his self-perception and caused him to question his own beauty and value.

Q: How did Shane Koyczan respond to society's beauty standards?

Shane Koyczan rejects society's narrow definition of beauty and emphasizes the importance of seeing oneself as truly beautiful. He tells a story about a woman with a birthmark who doesn't consider herself beautiful, yet her children recognize and appreciate her inner beauty. He believes that beauty should be defined by the heart, not just physical appearance.

Q: How did Shane Koyczan view himself despite his struggles?

Despite his struggles, Shane Koyczan views himself as resilient and worthy of love and acceptance. He understands that everyone has their own battles and experiences, but it is important to stand up for oneself and continue to believe in one's own worth.

Q: How does Shane Koyczan encourage others to see themselves differently?

Shane Koyczan encourages individuals to look beyond the negative words and beliefs that others may have projected onto them. He urges people to believe that they are more than what others say, and to see the strength and beauty within themselves. By challenging societal standards and embracing their true identities, individuals can find freedom and happiness.

Q: What message does Shane Koyczan want to convey through his spoken word performance?

Through his powerful performance, Shane Koyczan aims to inspire and empower others who have experienced bullying or self-doubt. He wants them to know that they are not alone and that their experiences do not define them. He encourages individuals to embrace their true selves, stand up for themselves, and recognize their own beauty and worth.


Shane Koyczan's spoken word performance delivers a heartfelt message of self-acceptance and resilience in the face of adversity. He reminds us that our true identities should not be determined by the judgments and expectations of others. Instead, we should embrace our dreams, stand up for ourselves, and recognize our own beauty and worth.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker reflects on the struggles of growing up and the pressure to define oneself, facing bullying and negativity from others.

  • The speaker emphasizes the importance of standing up for oneself and embracing one's true identity, regardless of what others say.

  • The speaker encourages self-acceptance and self-love, highlighting the resilience and strength found in overcoming adversity.

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