“Sometimes the most dangerous thing for kids is the silence that allows them to construct their own stories—stories that almost always cast them as alone and unworthy of love and belonging.” Brene Brown

If you could travel back in time, what is one piece of advice you would give your younger self? Would you tell your eight-year-old self to listen to your heart more often? Would you tell your ten-year-old self to not listen to what other people say about you? Would you tell your thirteen-year-old self to love more, to care more, to be bolder, to be braver?

I would tell myself that I know you feel like an outsider, but you #belong. I would travel back in time and I’d hug my curly-haired younger self and I’d say  “You DO belong!”  And the kid would cry and I would cry and it would be so cathartic and such a beautiful, healing release.

When I was 13 years old, I remember walking outside of my high school and I just felt this overwhelming sense of loneliness. At first, I tried to rationalize those thoughts and I started to list all the reasons why I wasn’t alone. I started by listing my friends. There was Alen, the leader of the group. He was the cool guy, the handsome guy, the smart guy, the popular with girls, guy. Then there was Daniel, the sporty guy. There was Vadim, the smart guy with a great sense of humor. I know I am describing a boy band from the 90s right now and technically it was the 90s but this group had three members and I felt I wasn’t needed.

I definitely was not one of the singers in the boy band and I wasn’t even needed as a backup dancer.

I wasn’t needed anywhere.

I felt like a donkey living in a world of horses.

It’s at our worst and weakest moments that the bullies have a way of finding us. The worst bully of course is the one inside your own head. My inner voice, my bully said “How you feel right now is how you’re gonna feel for the rest of your life!”

At that moment, my eyes went wide and I looked up at the sky and I imagined myself at 93 and alone. Nobody is there to love me, to want me, to need me. The image felt so real that it got seared into my brain, like a polaroid being exposed to “reality” and I believed that would be my future. – the bully had told me my fortune and no one was around to stand up for me…I would be alone forever.

I started to cry. I could see the next 70, 80 years of my life and I would be completely alone for all of it.

Who would want a donkey…not the smartest, the fastest, the most handsome?

Fast forward more than 20 years later gang…

I still carry that kid inside me and I still carry that bully inside me.

There are many moments where I still feel lonely and feel like I don’t #belong.

I can’t change the past…getting stuck in it doesn’t really help me now.

So instead I look inside myself and I imagine that little curly-haired kid hugging my leg, crying, anxious as the bully says:

“No matter how much you will build, no matter how big your school is…you are still alone and you will be alone.”

“You’re not needed, you won’t be accepted.”

“What’s the point of even trying”

I tell the bully to SHUT UP! The bully doesn’t get to decide my present or my future. I then kneel down and I hug my inner kid and say; “I know you feel like a donkey in a world of horses, but you are a unicorn. You are needed. You have a place here. You are meant to be here. You #belong.”

The most amazing thing has been happening little by little. When you see me at my best when you see me shine is when I give love to that kid and he unclenches my leg and is playing in this world. Healing for me is going inside myself, saying shut up to the negative voice, and hugging the inner kid.

So today, this week, whenever you feel that bully emerging from within, whenever you experience those doubts – hug your inner kid and tell him or her what she needs to hear.

I look forward to the day when all of our inner kids get the love they need and come out and play together. 🙂

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