‘another bad day miss mary,’ the teacher would say as she shut the car door behind me, ‘another bad day.’ mrs. hodges was a stern woman, never stern to any of the other kids it seemed, just to me. i don’t remember exactly what i did to her to make her not like me, but it just set in. the north carolina christian school blamed it on ADHD, but my mother didn’t want to give me pills. either way it strained my relationship with my teachers and those around me my entire academic career.

my relationship with school was more hate then love, i look back on very few moments of academia with pride or a positive memories of any sort. i was the kid who wore mostly black, not to be cool or even goth, just not to be noticed. i would attempt to keep a low profile, sticking to myself and literally keeping my held hung low while walking through the scores of school peers (hence ‘downcast eyes). in high school i would get my lunch from the cafeteria lady and eat my meal on the way to the library and sit there and read magazines until the bell ring. i was lower than an outcast, i was non-existent. i could go on with the stories but my life is not one about just looking back but seeing the present for what it is now and appreciating what got me here.

since then i have had the opportunity to discover music, and the benefits of such the life. i have gained a new found self confidence which files under the philosophical name ‘i just don’t care what you think’. it may sound rebellious or flippant but i honestly believe that more of us need to take on this approach to life.

we spend so much time (or at least i did) sitting in the shadows to make sure that we don’t trip and fall in front of others; and then we question why we never had the opportunity in life to run. we yell at God or our parents, or even ourselves for never making something of our self; but now if you look back did you ever give yourself a chance to even simply try?
for me i trudge forward, doing what i please, not in an egoistic way, not like godzilla in japan way; but in an adventurous way, like a boy trouncing in the snow in the woods.


i wanted to write a book, so i did. its not that it is perfect, honestly it doesn’t have to even be good. it just has to be something that you have always wanted to do, but been afraid. just this week i received a message on a social network that said my book more or less ‘failed’, but i didn’t do it for him, i did it because i am not scared anymore i don’t want to live in fear of failure. i am not out to win approval of people that i will never meet nor have any say in my life.

i wanted to write a solo record, i wanted to jump out of a plane, i wanted to travel around the world, i wanted to start a non-profit org, i want to start speaking more, i want to write another book, i want to run for office here in Nashville, i want to visit spain, i want to take on the world head on, look it in the face and smile with that ‘i am not scared of whatever you bring my way’ kind of smile. i want to trounce in the snow whether anyone likes it or not.

in case you live in tampa/st. pete and caught us live you may have heard me say something from stage during our set that you didn’t quite understand the meaning of. it usually comes at the pinnacle of the show when i have just sang my lungs out, the crowd is screaming every word, and the floor is alive with moving bodies. i look up at my mom who is usually in the balcony and say ‘another good day miss mary, another good day.’


Maciej said…
You are a role model. You're a leader. Be great.
erica said…
these words give me hope because I'm pretty much the female version of how you described your high school self. Maybe music will finally save me too.
Also I've totally heard you say that. Thanks for your words.
V said…
Definitely some words of inspiration in here. I try to have the "I don't care what you think" attitude, but when you're 21 people seem to believe that it's simply late blooming rebellion. I will write this novel and publish it myself if I must, without caring if anyone will buy it. I will have my body tattooed with the things that mean the world to me, not as an act of rebellion but an act of remembrance.
People may not understand it or even respect it, and it's hard to not care what they think, but for the most part, I don't. And it's people like you who have such positive views on the world and the way you like to live your life that can inspire others to adopt some of the same views, and make the world a more open-minded place. You are ever inspiring, and I thank you for that.
Gwen said…
I'm glad that you have the opportunity to tell your story and put all of your work out there. I've read your book and I think it is everything but a "failure." Your work is such an inspiration to me. Thank you.
sj. said…
i looooooove this!! this blog has been such a blessing to me. thank you Stephen!
Sara said…
I was that kid in high school after my dad died. It took two years to do what I wanted to do. I moved to another state and found God again.

Its funny that you posted a blog today. I left a comment on your twitter yesterday asking when you would post another one.

Like everyone else has said, you ARE an inspiration.
Catie said…
I am currently reading your book and I think it is good in a subtle kind of way. It's just about a guys every day life which most people can relate to but in it, it also has little insights to life. Which many people dont and would never think about. I just wanted to say that I am enjoying your book and those little insights on life are just what I am looking for, to help me examine and re-evaluate my life. It is helping me understand things...the more important things.
For this i thank you.
Keep up the great work in everything that you strive to do!!
your a great inspiration!
Brett said…
Speaking of the solo record, I just listened to it for the first time this week, and it's staggeringly good -- such vast scope, yet intimately tethered by your voice. I suffer from depression, and I don't think I can properly express how much it means to plug something like that into my ears; I swear my iPod should be classified as a medical device seeing as it keeps my heart going. Thank you.
Erin said…
Your posts are always so thought-provoking. I need to remember to "trounce in the snow" more frequently.
The Captain said…
I have yet had the opportunity to read your book. Mostly because I have to locate it in a store and because I'm jobless and penniless. At any rate, if you write anything in the book like you do in this blog, there's nothing to scoff at, or call a failure. It is clear that you know that, so my comment may even null and void.

I'm a writer myself. I have been for years and only now am I realizing the importance of encouraging that creative outlet in me. I am going to make it work, I am going to get published and someone out there in the world will enjoy it. If it isn't many people, I guess I'll have to deal with that, but otherwise, I am doing what I love because I love it.

I'm looking for input, for creative minds, for friends who find themselves trapped in a creative mind, trying to get the world inside their head onto paper. Maybe we can help each other out. Or maybe we could just bask in the glory of what God has given us.

Tabitha said…
Hey Stephen, YOU ARE MY INSPIRATION!!! I may never have a chance to meet you, but I want you to know that. I love soo much, we all know God loves you more than I do. I want to make this my resolution goal for this year, to not let anyone put me down, because of how I look or what I believe in. YOU ARE BRILLIANT!!! :-) Your Sister In Christ, Tabitha
Kristina said…
"we spend so much time (or at least i did) sitting in the shadows to make sure that we don’t trip and fall in front of others; and then we question why we never had the opportunity in life to run."

I think you hit it head on with this eloquent description. So many times people ask why they can't do things and yet the real problem is that they don't let themselves. I don't feel like it's so much an "I don't care what you think" attitude that we need to portray, but an "I'm not going to let what you think stop me from living my life" kind of attitude.

I'm glad to see that Anchor & Braille finally made it into cd form. I used to listen to wedding/funeral on purevolume on repeat for hours on end.

Thanks for revealing your art and heart to the world.
Anonymous said…
You are so Strong and so Bold!! I wish I were that strong and bold. You go Stephen!!! Go and run and keep running until you finish the race! And hold your torch high and light up the world!! I love you! thank you :-)
Traci said…
Wow! That was absolutely amazing to read. I have cold chills going down my arms. I was quite the opposite in school. I was loud and wanted to be seen and heard. I didn't care about being cool so I wore what I liked, did what I liked, hung with who I liked. I received much criticism from others and even though I tried so hard not to fit in, it is what I wanted most.

I did well academically, well better than okay considering they hired me as a teacher later on in life. Through personal loss, I decided to become a teacher. Not your core subjects but one that I felt would reach more students, a Family Consumer Science teacher (or Home Ec).

I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to just change one person's life. I wanted all of my "kids" to know they are imporatant and loved. On most days I love my job. But sometimes I feel like I am not making difference, that what I say goes in one ear and out the other.

I look at you who does so much and it makes me want to get out there and do more. I keep dreaming of writing a book or traveling the world speaking to young people. Anything that can make a difference. I just do not know where to start. Reading this gave me hope. You give me hope. Your music gives me hope that one day I will do more. I'm not content with just sitting back.

Thank you for all you do and for listening to me ramble.

Lisa said…
This post is very inspiring to me. I am also that kid in high school right now just waiting to get out. You hit on not being scared of failure and that really speaks to me. I am trying to figure out what comes next in life and deciding whether to do something I feel inspired to do or to fall into doing what everyone around me seems to expect of me. So anyhow, thank you for a thought-provoking post.

Also.. I'm sure you don't even need to hear this but, anyone who said you book has "more or less 'failed' " is full of bologna because the fact that you have accomplished something you always wanted to do. that alone is inspiring and everything but failure.
And in my opinion, another book would be lovely :)
Anna said…
And THIS is one of the many billions of reasons why you and the band inspire me to no end.
I can't even explain how lucky I was to really get into your music. It's changed my life.
Lots of Love!
Renny said…
Stephen that is beautiful. Trounce away because you inspire other people to do so as well. I love that despite everything your music is full of life and positivity. There is more to living than being alive. Your music reminds me of that. You remind me of that. You are someone I met only once as part of an Anberlin meet and greet, and yet when I hear your music I feel I know you so well. Thank you for that. You are like George Bailey, you've changed more people than I think you could ever realize.
Janelle said…
Music has done so much for me, especially yours. I did get the chance to tell you that in person in Pittsburgh in June, & ever since I heard "Foreign Language" Anberlin has been a big deal for me. My brother & I have spent many late nights in my car listening to you guys & talking about the impact the music has had, & how much we love yours.

I have to agree with the very first commenter - you are a role model. I also told you this when I met you, but I have a huge amount of respect for you.

I still need to read your book, though. No matter what anyone else has to say about it.
amanda said…
it has always been my desire to live above the opinion of others and my need for their approval, thank you for providing an example!
gina said…
i read this on facebook this morning. either i didnt see the "read more" or only the first paragraph was posted in the note. im glad i found my way here to read the whole thing.

thank you for your words. though it is just honesty of your thoughts for you, it reminds me that i am not alone, that there is hope and possibilities. i for one really enjoyed your book as well. when i was younger i used to love to read; because of required reading in school i slowly became less and less interested with reading, your book was the first i had read in 5 or 6 years and i couldnt put it down.

thanks again for your words. the "‘another good day miss mary, another good day.’" made me smile.
Anonymous said…
Yay, I'm not the only person who thinks this! :) I was that kid at an elementary/middle school age; I didn't go to school, but whenever I interacted with my peers I wanted to sink into the background. It wasn't because I was undersocialized, it was just who I was. Then around 13 or 14 I realized that wasn't who I wanted to be. I didn't want to be afraid to embrace music or styles of clothing because of what people would think, and I didn't want to be afraid to speak. I wanted to be confident, and it took years, but now I don't care if I'm a walking contradiction. In fact, I take pride in the fact nobody can put me in a box. I really ceased to care what people thought of me, and with that I gained the confidence that I was searching for. I'm not perfect and I have my moments where I shrink back into my cage of social anxiety, but people can't make me feel bad for what I like or who I am. I have ambitions and dreams and I'll achieve them, no matter if people think I can't do it.

Every once in a while, though, I feel that people think I am foolish and naive because I have dreams and think I can achieve them, because I am hopeful, because I have faith in God, and really believe in myself and humanity because of it. This post reminded me that I'm not alone, and that I'm not silly because I believe these things. The lyric I am the patron saint of lost causes as always evoked so much emotion in me. Maybe that's why
sway said…
inspiring. I read your book. I really enjoyed it.

"i am not out to win approval of people that i will never meet nor have any say in my life."
well-said. if only everyone knew how to be themselves that way.
Andrea said…
Oh Stephen.

You really give me hope that I won't always be... be.. I don't have a word. teenager. that's it. You give me hope that I won't always be a teenager.

this reminds me of a list I have. did you really go sky diving? that's on my list next to "swim with a whale" and "meet Bono"
Wow, Stephen, this is my philosophy on life to the T. I used to be so concerned about what people think of me (I guess I still have a remnant of that in me now), but it's definitely something I'm working on. I'm still learning, as we all are. :-)
Claudia said…
This has come at the perfect time for me. Recently I have been thinking a lot about these things. I am currently in high school and reading this I am reminded of what I do at school. I'm the "quiet one" that is never noticed, but not necessarily because I want to be. I wish I could easily find self confidence, and I tell myself "I just don't care what you think" but it doesn't come that easily to me. I hope that I can find a way to have this approach to life.
Monse Hernandez said…
whether we think we can or think we can't, we are right.
Isn't it freeing to know that the only expectations we have to live by are our very own? Oh yeah.
Daniel said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel said…
We tend to be a bigger obstacle than we give ourselves credit for. Ignore the world as we're trained to know it. Make it our own.

But I don't believe it should be all about me. I mean "This life's not about me", or is it? Or is that just based on personal understanding of what's 'good'?

Enjoyed the read. =)
Anonymous said…

While you have been out "trouncing" in the snow, you left an impression of a snow angel. Your words and actions make me smile :) Thank you.
linds4lif said…
thank you for posting this
Anonymous said…
A few things, Stephen:

For one, "Alexithymia" has pretty much been my theme song for the past few months, and I'm so happy you included the "downcast eyes" reference in this post.

Secondly, I'm an English major and I absolutely love your book. Its style is, to me, an integral part of the story's overall charm. While I value proper spelling and grammar and see them as important to preserving language, I also know that the style of informal talk among young people today has changed drastically from what it used to be, and your style adapts wonderfully to that change. It shows that intelligence is there, though it may be unrefined, and I think that's important.

Great post!
Anonymous said…
I swear, at 23 years old, I did things that I was "supposed to do" like go to college. Yet "what I was supposed to do" left me with debt and no room to trounce. I'm still waiting for my "another good day, mary" moment, and sadly, don't know if I'll ever have one.

I don't want to be the yellow in the snow, but this post really represents, like lots of things, things I want to be but can no longer achieve.
-lindsay- said…
i literally just came inside form 'trouncing' in the snow.
it is a wonderful feeling.
a feeling most would, sadly, scoff at.

i was also that kid in school. instead of black i found myself in old baggy shirts and a long tangled mess i considered hair. however, i was a good student and the teachers loved me. that only made the others depsise me more. i was the scape-goat of the class, the only kid no one liked. why? someone had to be. by high school i was forgotten. freshman year was horrible... but sophomore year i found myself. i built courage. i formed myself. but was still forgotten.

until the day i trounced.

tried out for the school musical. the quiet smart girl no one liked got a main part. they found out she could sing. and act.
she was noticed. she surprised them.
she kept trouncing.
even when she remembered the forgotten kid she still is inside,
she kept trouncing.

and trouncing felt just like that feeling of skipping about in the snow, falling into it, then looking up at the stars, forgetting your worries... and smiling. yes, trouncing indeed.

thank you for this post, because i will admit, the girl that keeps trouncing still has fear of falling face first.
and thank you for trouncing, because to make a long story short, your trouncing made mine possible.

next time i go traipsing through the snow, because of your blog entry i will have another reason to smile.
nicogirl said…

Although you CHOSE in some ways to be alone, a person going through school can be alone right in the middle of the crowd. Many of us fail to pursue our TRUE selves in order to fit in. The cocky jock, the girl with her body hanging out all over the place, or the "over the top" goth are just deflecting themselves off to almost characters. They are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, even if that means a sub group like a goth or scene kid. If you're being outrageous, you don't know who you are just yet and are playing a part. It's the same as being invisible to me, hiding in plain view so to speak.

In America we have failed to give a safe environment to explore the all the areas of intelligence. We measure linguistics, mathematics, and kinesthetic, {bodily} as areas of intelligence. BIG problem is there are four more. Musical, spatial, interpersonal, and intrapersonal also make up the intelligence of a human being. These areas are strong in the all creative aspects of life. Not neat little rows of equations, but human feelings, art and living with ourselves and each other. Unpredictable and fluid.

This leaves most of us out of the tidy little box they want to shove us all in. Using only three out of seven areas is a really poor measuring stick. Is is any wonder we run around thinking we are the problem? Educators can really do a number on a child, pointing out the perceived shortcomings, when in fact it's not true at all! They just are failing to recognize how fabulous you are at one of the forgotten four areas.

So take a good look at what you're best in. Is it valued at high school level? If not, take your free time to work on your music, painting, designing, or natural friendship abilities. Invest in lessons or find a mentor. Run after the things that make you happy.

So whether you are sitting on the sidelines or faking it to make it:

There is life outside of high school and it doesn't look much like the life inside high school. It's WAY more open to all of us freaks. In the end, we usually are the ones who change the course of history, not the round pegs, the square pegs. We tend to break out of the mold. After all what do we have to loose? We never fit into Mrs. Hodges plans in the first place. We will forge our own path, a far more interesting one at that!

GO..have "another good day" on your own terms!
Craig said…
I enjoy reading your writing, I wish I could pick at your brain and understand your thoughts sometimes.
Anonymous said…
i loved your book. i thought it was awesome. it reminded me of Veronika Decides To Die and it had a wonderful message. And Even though the ending is not quite like we expected/wanted, it still turned out great.
And someone said that you are a role model, and I agree. You're one of the few artists i like that i can say that about, because not everone does all that you do. Even after you guys got bigger, you still manage to keep in touch with the fans, write books, be part of a non-profit org, record a solo album. I really don't know how you do it. And you still have time to inspire people. because you certainly inspire me.
I used to care a lot about what people said about me. But today i see that it's a pointless worry, just something more to stress us out. I've changed a lot in the past few years, and for the better. And i have to say that your music and you were a part of twhat inspired me. so thanks. ^^
Sarah K said…
hey stephen :)
i could very much relate to your story of how you were like in high school, if thats really true. I didnt wear all black but as my senior year is ending now i want to learn to speak up for myself more. it's hard.
I loved your book because i could relate to it. I really can relate myself to any of your work (lol).

i always tell myself that i would try something that i would never do, but it doesnt usually work out. i guess i'll work on that
<3 sarah k
Anonymous said…
Este ~ I have no right to judge you or your childhood or the reasons why you dressed in black 'with downcast eyes' throughout your school years, but I do (and always) get the impression that you feel you've come a LONG way since then and you want to be an inspiration to others. I don't think you're attempting to boast that you're this amazing person who made amazing feats from THEN to NOW so much as trying to say "If I can do it, you can too!!" "I've achieved my dreams, and it's incredible, and I really wish that everyone could feel the way that I feel!!"

I commend you for that. That is awesome and makes me smile.

On the other hand, there are people who will never experience such accomplishments, not because they didn't try, but because some people's scars run even deeper than yours and may be a force their entire lives, some people don't have any support system, and some people don't have the right resources. And some people just aren't destined to live an exemplary life in the way of personal acheivement. Does that make that person a failure at life? Not necessarily.

There is one feat we can all be proud to share in, regardless of success on a personal or material level, and that is degree of faith. If someone who is homeless, poor etc. and may never rise above those circumstanes in life but lead a life of faith regardless, they are just as much of a 'good person' as the one who achieves personal success.

Didn't mean to get preachy, but sometimes my spiritual side grabs hold of my fingers and types these things. :)

Ms. B. said…

I know a Miss Mary and she is a good friend of mine. The initially connection we shared was based on our sons expereinces in school.

I became a teacher as a second career due to how my son was treated in school by both his teachers and the students. Miss Mary was in my classroom several years ago helping proctor a test when we learned of our connection to each other. She saw the loving and concerned way I treated a child who was my student and was very similar to my son. :) We became friends... We share a common experience and we both love children.

I can tell you that Miss Mary loves you and she always has. I can also share that she beams to see you so happy. I love watching her when she speaks of you or watches you on stage.

You are a wonderful person and I am sure you have always been wonderful. My son is wonderful too and Miss Mary is always kind to him. She is wonderful too!
Jonah said…
this is truly inspiring. thank you stephen.
Alexander Bujak said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
darling you said…
It's funny how you mention music being a redemption; lately life hasn't been entirely too kind to me and I've been relying on it more than usual. As I stumbled upon your entry this evening I just happened to be listening to 'Asleep' by The Smiths and found it fit the mood of your entry.
If someone as wonderfully inspirational as you can break out of the chains that held you in high school; maybe there's still time for me. I don't know. Life is awkward, or maybe that's just adolescence.
Thomas said…
So THAT'S where Alexithymia came from. That song, and every other song on Cities had some of the most beautiful lyrics I've ever seen. With you being who you are, I honestly never would have guessed you were an outcast in school. God truly had great plans for you

A21Coeur said…
Hi Stephen,
please check out my blog which is about human trafficking. Maybe you are interested in supporting the campaign or just spreading the word to your friends would be of great support too! Thank you!
Kena said…
Same reason I wore black. I never told anyone but my sister that... Idk why I haven't. I guess it's not that personal. I just didn't want to be noticed.
Still, it's interesting to hear of another with a similar motive.
Alesya Izoita said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
This gives me the will to do what I want to do and find a way to synchronize it with the rest of my chaotic life. It is difficult to be "mature" during high school in order to gain respect from authorities and still be able to have freedom of expression and individuality. Music, for me, like many of the others here, provides an escape into a land where we can be our true selves. The hardest part is finding a balance between enjoyment and advancement. Luckily, I now have the chance to incorporate my love for music, as well as other passions, such as sports, into my future. While I enjoy this, I spend too much of my time worrying about the future instead of thriving in the now. Music encourages me to be myself, and words such as your own inspire me to delve into my inner self and do something that I truly want. Your words are a constant inspiration to hold my head high and "trounce in the snow" if I want to.

Thank you.
Chris[Miss] said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christina said…
Oh my God you have no idea.....Wow. You may have just slapped me out of my depression, sir. As a highschooler......I got that. All of that. Wow. Thank you from the bottom of my broken heart. This, ladies and gentleman, is why we live and not merely exist...but LIVE.
rachelcrowder said…
i hope that you are able to do all of these things you want to do. most of all i hope you write another book, for selfish reasons. i so enjoy orphaned anythings
Leanne said…
I am a first year 6th grade language arts/Special ed teacher near Pittsburgh. I incorporated TROUNCE into the Live for Others unit we are currently studying. The language arts class I teach consists of 26 students, including those labeled special ed. (learning support, autistic support, etc.). I wanted to share some of their reflections they wrote after learning your background information (including accomplishments, Faceless International, etc.) and reading/discussing TROUNCE:

"His story makes me want to speak out and make a difference."

"He set goals and didn't let his ADHD get in the way of his goals. This makes me feel confident because I have ADHD too."

"If I try hard enough, I really can do anything I want to."

"He is a good role model and I am glad I got to hear about him."

"It makes me feel like it doesn't matter what others think or feel about me and that having faith in myself is all that really matters."

"I feel like I can do anything...that I live in an awesome, epic world."

"He may have been bullied by his teacher because of ADHD, but he got his confidence back and became a great person..a star. This makes me feel confident and reminds me to never give up."

"He is now going to be my role model."

We will continue to study some aspects of your life, as we research and present various nonprofit organizations and learn the need to live for others. (They need to know there are good role models out there). I promised them I would leave a comment to you. I'll let you know how the unit goes.

Miss R.
Laura W.S. said…
Your book is not a failure. I bought it about a year ago, and have read it twelve times since. So every month I pick it up again, and it consoles me and gives me hope for the future of me.
Lucie said…
I am quite fond of your book, in fact it sits on the shelf next to me in minnesota. I don't call that failing. Write another?

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