Meet Melissa!

Hi everyone! My name is Melissa Liu and I am on the writing staff here at Magnify. Before we start our journey together, let me introduce myself and my goals. 

An incident that occurred five years feels like it was yesterday, still fresh in my memories. An incident buried in the past continues to lurk into my days, unexpectedly. It is an incident that ignited the beginning of a series of insecurity and anxiety. 

I remember walking into an audition for an orchestra that I had been dreaming to be in. It was my very first audition experience. Shuffling into the small, empty classroom, I saw the backs of three judges with pencils in their hands. They were ready to grade me, harshly. Sitting down in the cold metallic chair, I felt as if my senses were strangely enhanced. I could feel my hands trembling, stickiness of my palms, my shaking legs, and the perspiration forming on my nose. After spending months preparing for this audition, memorizing all of the repertoire, I was ready. But a voice in my head appeared, whispering into my ear: “you’re going to fail, forget the music, and forge a path of failure.” My throat instinctively started to close, while my head was becoming engulfed by negative thoughts. 

I started to play – the sound was shaky and out of tune. I had played for twenty seconds. I was twenty seconds into a five minute audition, but it had already felt like an eternity. I needed to get out. I impulsively blurted out “can I please get water?” which disqualified me right at that moment. Even though I knew that this would ruin my chances of getting into the orchestra of my dreams, I sprinted out of that audition room like my life depended on it. I remember opening my bag; I’d left it right outside the audition room. All of the other auditioneers were staring at me like I was completely crazy. I didn’t care: all I needed in that moment was water and fresh air. With one breath, I walked back into the room and finished my audition, knowing that no matter how well I played, all of those hours, weeks, and months spent practicing were futile. 

My first panic attack was an out-of-body experience. It felt like I was completely controlled by another person, rendering me from thinking rationally and causing me to perform at a mediocre level. I walked out of the audition building feeling weak, like the life was drained out of me, but more significantly, I was terrified. What had just happened to me was an utterly new experience.  A new seed of insecurity was planted inside of me. When would my next panic attack happen? What would happen then? 

After that cold December day, I had trouble maintaining my nerves before tests, which is something that I still struggle with today. Test-taking anxiety. It was like a switch had flipped inside of me. Anxiousness before a test is normal, but for me, it felt like I was on a rocky edge, glaring down atop a cliff and into a hole of abyss. If I leapt off that cliff, I would lose control. I needed to keep my balance and focus on planting my feet and controlling my nerves. To most people, I looked like I was thriving as I earned the highest test grades in my school. What people did not see was the work that I had put into studying and practicing before each test to ensure that I would not jump off the cliff of confidence. 

Five years after my first panic attack, let me tell you that the first experience was not my last. Through the ups and downs of managing my panic attacks, I realized two important things. The first one is that working hard is a crucial step in success. Do not expect to accomplish your goals without putting in the efforts that you need to.The second one is that you shouldn’t  stress the could-haves. If it should have, it would have. I am a big believer in fate or destiny. Life can be manipulated by luck. There are just some things that are out of our control. Maybe we are just tiny pawns in someone else’s game, but nonetheless, we must know that one event will not determine our entire lives. Looking up at the sky, behind all of the dark and gray clouds,  the radiating sun shines. I like to think that there is always good that comes out of struggle. My perseverance stemmed out of my failures. There needs to be clouds in order to make the sunny days even brighter and worth the wait.

Through Magnify, I hope to connect with all of you and make our journey as memorable as possible. We are all navigating our own individual struggles, which is part of what makes life so special. But at the end of the day, we do all have something in common: the experiences that we are capable of sharing. Despite all the chaos in our lives, I hope we find the time to observe and embrace the full greatness of our world. I hope my blogs will be able to help you in your everyday life, whether that is expressing my own story, doing research on mental health aspects, or inspiring you to prioritize your own mental health. The world is in unprecedented times right now, but we can form our community and family of advocates for mental health, creating a place that is more equal, happy, and lively. 

P.S. I did end up making the orchestra the next year! It took a lot of strength to go back to that audition room, but I got the courage to do so! Anything is possible if you just believe in yourself. 

Contact Melissa Liu at mliu@magnifywellness.org

Listen to the Audio Version here !!!

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