Today was not a day I expected for my heart to be wrenched open by a video. Today was a day for midterm studying, for calculators and TA sessions and many, many cups of coffee. But I agree with The Huffington Post: “If you have time to watch only one video today, it should probably be this one.”

Shane Koyczan is a Canadian poet whose animated spoken-word poem on the stories of bullied children has become a YouTube sensation since its post on February 19th, inspiring the creation of the To This Day Project.

It’s been so long since I’ve been called names, since I’ve been “four-eyes” and “freak” and other things. I had almost forgotten what it was like, back then, until I heard Koyczan’s poem To This Day.

Sometimes our dreams of making it to college seem too big for us to handle. Sometimes, it’s all we can do to just make it through today. They say high school is easy, but no, it’s really not. Learning facts and whipping tests and stretching our minds would be so much easier if we felt safe enough to say what was on our mind, inside or outside of the classroom.

High school, the emotional battle ground, where we too often let other people decide who we are, has left scars on all of us. What I love about this video is how it inspired me to remember where I came from, and how far I’ve come from there. It made me realize why I love college so much, why this time is the most important time of our lives. This is a place where I can finally figure out what makes me “beautiful,” as Koyczan says, what makes me tick, what lights me up and makes me believe in myself, and I can just roll around in all of it, smattering the world with everything that makes me me.

I’m not saying that college is bully-free, but the fact is, college is the most selfish decision we’ll ever make, and that gives us more power over our fate than we ever had in high school. Realize that your endurance through it all, through the gossip and the drama, the name-calling and the taunts, the senioritis and the loneliness of being lost, reveals just how much faith you had in yourself when you didn’t think you had much of anything. Let yourself smile, now, because from here on out, life gets better.

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