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Proust Questionairre: Steven Strong

SCORES teacher reflects on overcoming fear, dealing with difficult family situations

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Proust Questionairre: Steven Strong

Steven Strong stands outside Portable Four, one of his many locales throughout the day. “I work in scores department,” Strong said, “but through that I’ve been able to bounce around and be in multiple different classes, which is cool.”

Steven Strong stands outside Portable Four, one of his many locales throughout the day. “I work in scores department,” Strong said, “but through that I’ve been able to bounce around and be in multiple different classes, which is cool.”

Laszlo King-Hovis

Steven Strong stands outside Portable Four, one of his many locales throughout the day. “I work in scores department,” Strong said, “but through that I’ve been able to bounce around and be in multiple different classes, which is cool.”

Laszlo King-Hovis

Laszlo King-Hovis

Steven Strong stands outside Portable Four, one of his many locales throughout the day. “I work in scores department,” Strong said, “but through that I’ve been able to bounce around and be in multiple different classes, which is cool.”

Laszlo King-Hovis, staff reporter

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The Shield: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Steven Strong: My personal idea of perfect happiness is getting to a place in my life where I am consistently confident in myself and the world around me enough to feel good about where I’m at, while also understanding that I can also do better. I think you can have perfect happiness while also being able to improve upon as well.

TS: What is your greatest fear?

SS: I don’t know that I have one greatest fear, because I’m not really afraid of anything at this point. I’ve had a lot go on that has caused me to feel fearful that I have conquered. So I feel like I’ve gone through enough things that I was afraid of that I’m no longer afraid of to be like, “Well, anything else that I could be afraid of, I shouldn’t be, because I could just get past that as well.” I welcome things to try to put fear in me because I don’t think it’ll happen.

TS: What is the most overrated virtue?

I do believe I will get to that state of perfect happiness and where I am consistently cool with what I have going on.”

— Steven Strong

SS: People are so money-hungry; that’s an easy one to go to: greed. I see it wreck families and lives and people around me a lot, their constant worry and desire and pursuit of being rich or getting money. I get it because it is stressful without money, but when you tear others down to make yourself have money or attain money, then you’re not who you were when you were born. I don’t think people were born greedy; they learn about money and what it can do for them and become greedy, and I wish people could take a step back and strip down themselves and be like, “I could live life and focus on these bigger things.”

TS: What is your current state of mind?

SS: I am hopeful, and I’ve reached that a lot in my current way of life right now, because I’ve recognized that I’m not where I want to be and I’m not close to where I want to be, but I believe I will be, whether that takes five years or fifteen or twenty. I do believe I will get to that state of perfect happiness and where I am consistently cool with what I have going on. I’m not there yet, but I’m happy right now. I’m not in a negative spot, but I am encouraged by where I’m headed right now and where I am right now based on where I’ve come from. If I never got to where I’m trying to go, I still have accomplished a lot and have no regrets because I’ve turned my life around in a way that most people would have not have guessed.

TS: On what occasion do you lie?

SS: I don’t lie very much. If I had to look at other people and what I think they lie about and then look at myself, I think I’m too honest at times. My dad was the most honest person I ever knew, and he instilled that in me. I think honestly is something I hold to a really high standard. There are times when it may be best to not be totally honest, but overall in life, if you consider yourself an honest person, I think that’s a good way to live and I think that people will receive that and respect that a lot more than knowing that you’re a liar. I definitely don’t feel like I lie very much at all. In fact, maybe sometimes I should when I should just make a situation easier.

If you’re able to laugh at anything or at yourself or at something funny, and you’re just cool with taking a second to be funny or enjoy something funny, that’s huge. I think everyone should be able to kick back and have fun and laugh.”

— Steven Strong

TS: What living person do you most despise?

SS: Despise is kind of a strong word; the living person that I would dislike the most and not want to have anything to do with the most is my biological mother. I have many reasons for that, but I think it’s mostly that she has done many horrible things without much change or desire or will to better herself and hold herself accountable for the horrible things she has done. People always tell me, “Oh you should forgive; you need forgiveness,” and I get that, but people who deserve forgiveness are people who are getting better in themselves. If you’re the same person you’ve always been when you’ve done horrible things, I don’t see that as a positive thing at all, and I don’t see that as a way to earn anybody’s respect, especially not mine. I think that it’s important to say that out loud, because there are people out in the world and at McCallum who don’t have very close family members, whether it’s your dad, your mom, your sister, your cousin, and being real about that, even if it’s not super common, is huge.

TS: What quality do you admire most in another person?

SS: I think humor is one of the main things I notice really quickly and really intensely, because I’m very goofy and very lighthearted and free, and when I’m around people who just have no humor, it’s really hard to be around them and really awkward. Whether it is similar humor as mine or not, that’s not super important, if you’re able to laugh at anything or at yourself or at something funny, and you’re just cool with taking a second to be funny or enjoy something funny, that’s huge. I think everyone should be able to kick back and have fun and laugh.

TS: Are there any words or phrases you overuse?

I would come back as a raindrop. I’ve always wanted to go skydiving and experience freefall. It would be pretty cool to be in a cloud and then just freefall down to the ground and just exist in wetness.”

— Steven Strong

SS: I say “classic” a lot. I blame my sister for it; she has been saying it for years about anything. Some things are actually classic, but sometimes you’re just straight up just using the word to use it. We’re both vegetarian, my sister and I, so if I’m like, “Let’s go someplace that has a veggie burger,” and she’ll go, “Classic veggie burger”. We use it now to the point where it’s just to use it, to make fun of the fact that we ourselves are still using it even in situations where it’s not needed. She just moved back to Austin, so it’s probably going to be a more prominent thing. I say “wack” a lot too. I think “wack” is an underused term; I think it describes a lot of things. It can be pretty loose: you can call something super horrible “wack,” but you can also call something kind of not super cool “wack” as well. You’ll always know which one you mean based on the context. I say “wack” all the time, and I think more people should too. People call me out on it though, and go, “You say wack a lot,” and I’m like, “Well if you don’t, you’re wack. Stop being wack and accept that wack is a word.”

TS: If you were to die and come back as a thing or an animal, what would it be?

SS: Maybe, this is just spur-of-the-moment thought, because it’s raining right now; maybe I would come back as a raindrop. I’ve always wanted to go skydiving and experience freefall. It would be pretty cool to be in a cloud and then just freefall down to the ground and just exist in wetness. I guess the whole water cycle would be fun to go through, I think. It would be an adventure. You would never stop, I guess, how would I die from that?

TS: If you could have one talent, what would it be?

SS: I wish I could sing… I rap and stuff; I could learn to play the guitar if I put in the effort for that. I could take vocal lessons, but I still wouldn’t be that great of a singer. That’s something I wish I could do because you could literally just do it anywhere, anytime, you don’t need to have any equipment, it’s already there in your throat. There are times when I’ve written songs and I’m like, “Man, this would be dope if I could actually sing it.”

TS: Where would you most like to live?

There’s nowhere I would like to commit to staying for a long duration or even the rest of my life, but some places I would like to go to to try living would be Australia, maybe try out Sydney or Melbourne. I think, ultimately, I will always come back to Austin.”

— Steven Strong

SS: Austin will always be home, but I don’t want to stay here my whole life because I’ve been here my whole life, and I think there’s a whole world out there. In terms of living, everywhere I go from this point on, I would like to live temporarily. There’s nowhere I would like to commit to staying for a long duration or even the rest of my life, but some places I would like to go to to try living would be Australia, maybe try out Sydney or Melbourne. New Zealand would be awesome to live in for a year or two just to see how beautiful it is, Maybe someplace in Asia or Thailand just to get that experience, but nowhere long term. I think, ultimately, I will always come back to Austin.

TS: Where and when were you most happy?

SS: I look back at my sophomore year at McCallum a lot as a really happy time for me. I’d just won the school talent show, I wasn’t in the Fine Arts Academy, but almost everyone in the show was in [it]. It doesn’t mean much to me now, but at the time I was a sophomore here and I was like, “Man, I don’t do anything very well or very professionally.” So I wrote a song, made my own beat for it, and I won the audience vote, and that was a really big deal to me at the time because…I wasn’t very confident at the time. I was really happy then; it was the first time I felt like my social life was doing pretty well. I think I’ve been happier since, but in a wiser way.

TS: What is your most treasured possession?

SS: I’m not really big on material items, so I don’t know of one thing that I look at, and I’m like, “Oh I love this so much over another thing.” I recently got my dad’s baseball catching mitt that he played with, and he played in college and high school and all that. He was a pitcher, so I recently found his in one of his old rooms, and I took it with me. He passed away when I was in high school, and it’s cool to have that with me. I know how special it was to him when he played, and now it just means a ton to me.

TS: What is your greatest achievement?

SS: There’s a lot, honestly. My greatest achievement is overcoming my rough childhood, whatever that means. I was very, very, very, very depressed as a little kid, and I don’t think I would be here right now if I had been able to have my way as a kid. Overcoming those negative feelings and negative occurrences that were put upon me that were out of my control and understanding that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t see it, but now I see it and trusting life and myself. I went through a lot of therapy and stuff people can go through to get help, and it does help, but ultimately that belief in yourself that you can get out of that situation is what really pushes you. I think that’s my greatest achievement, believing in myself enough to get out of some horrible situations that could’ve ended me. I’m very proud and happy to be where I stand today.

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