5 Signs You Are Ready To Share Your Personal Story With An Audience
Macy Phung at Alameda Beach
Hello there, my name is Mei Sze Phung, but you can call me Macy. I often tell my story because it is deeply ingrained in me, profound, and full of wonder. My parents immigrated from China and Vietnam during the Vietnam War to America for better opportunities for my sister, brother and I. When I was 18, I developed the rare schizoaffective disorder, which in my case is a combination of schizophrenia and manic-depression. During this stage in my life, I experienced a series of revelations that motivated me to want to help end poverty with awareness through dance. As a human, everywhere I go, I carry my story with me. It influences my actions, life decisions, morals, and values.
Life has been an incredible journey full of highs and lows, beauty and pain, as well as love and rejection. However, I am honored to be given the opportunity to be a person – to experience, to grow, to learn, and to continue sailing on my life journey until I reach my ultimate destination of helping to end poverty by 2030. When I was between the ages of 1-10, I was for the most part a happy child going along with my friends. Between the ages of 12-17, I was uncomfortable growing into my teen years, still a fledgling. When I was 18, I was struck by a blow of mania, the happiest high I have ever felt in my life, where I experienced an alternate reality, all my senses were heightened and I had no inhibition. For once, I was not super shy and unconfident. At that moment, what had been bottled inside of me for so many years overflowed. I became someone who didn’t hold anything back, who told it like it is, who is opinionated, and who couldn’t care less about other’s perceptions of her. However, with treatment, I felt “normal”, but looking back, I owe my life to the treatment I’ve received. When I was a student at UCLA, I learned about arts activism as a World Arts and Cultures Major. While I carried my mission – my desire to make drama feature film Dance for World Peacebased on my personal story, I felt lonely with no team of collaborators. A year later, I was struck by a blow of depression. Having little progress really got to me. For weeks, I stayed in bed and agonized, unable to move forward. There is a saying that when the pupil is ready, the master arrives. After about two years of stagnancy since graduation, yet staying true to myself, my mentors “arrived” and I was welcomed with open arms into RESULTS, a movement where we influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty. I had also been welcomed back into my Dao Temple since having graduated from UCLA. Through these communities, I met caring, supportive, and engaging people from all age groups who make me feel like a local superstar <3. No longer do I feel alone. I am so grateful to have so many good people in my life. Of course, what you are is what you attract. It is only through me being courageous, stepping out of my comfort zone, and putting in great effort that my communities continue to encourage me, allowing us to feed off of each other’s positive energy. Here’s a secret: I live every day of my life like I am the star of my own life movie. I emulate the courage and mentality of leading characters in inspiring movies.
To have a profound story is one thing, but sharing it can often be challenging. I believe that deep down, everyone has their own story, their own narrative that has shaped who they are today. And if you are not satisfied with your narrative so far, know that life is a journey and our narratives are often evolving.
Here are five signs you are ready to share your personal story with an audience:
1. You experience your story fully, having lived through it
In order to have a story to share, you must have fully lived it and immersed in it. In my world, to live means to experience the positive and the negative, to mature and grow, and to develop into who you are meant to be. When was the last time you ever really felt alive? Like free with the breeze, happy, and experiencing life’s joy. The very first time I really felt alive, actually alive, was when I had my first manic episode. It was liberating. It was when I really felt my life begin. It’s okay to be your own person. To be alive means you experience many things – happiness, longing, nostalgia, wants, and creativity, meeting a lot of people along your journey. You may have suppressed feelings that you allowed to overfill. Freedom. You are yourself, and only fully yourself. Your experiences have allowed you to grow. No one can be you but you. It’s your life. Not only have you experienced life, but you’ve also processed your feelings, emotions, and thoughts and come to terms with them.
2. You can talk about it wherever you go – networking, social gatherings, etc.
As a filmmaker, I naturally have to attend a lot of networking events and gatherings. And what do I do there? Tell my story. In one evening, it’s possible for me to talk to10-15 people. In these little conversations, I have to expose myself and just tell it. Of course, this is a period of a bit of uncertainty. I got very self-conscious on how people perceived me, whether they liked or resonated with my story, whether they were even interested in talking to me. Most of the times, I felt that people were not interested. However, something I learned further along my journey is that conversations are two-way. It’s also important to hear the other person’s story, and to try to find alignment. It’s so easy to be caught in your own story that you forget what the other person said about him or herself. At that point, I did not have this knowledge or insight.
3. You are comfortable with your story, regardless of what others think
After telling my story so many times for years, sometimes to random people, and after finding my niche and being intertwined into communities who accept me as I am and even encourage me to grow, I gain confidence in my true self, my story. At this point, it doesn’t matter what others think. All I know is my story is true and special to me, and to my closest family and friends. When I radiated this confidence, I fell in love with the world and all the communities I am a part of, and they love me back. It’s a wonderful feeling.
4. You can talk about your story to a lot of people – in front of an audience, online, etc.
Now is the point when you are ready to connect with a lot of people through your personal story. At this point, I have no trouble being vulnerable and sharing my true self and story in front of a lot of people – it could be a room full of people, or online with a lot of viewers or readers. This is a very powerful moment. You’re on the tip of the iceberg.
5. You feel your biggest goals and aspirations within reach
For me, this is making my drama feature film Dance for World Peace, based on my personal story. Now, I am ready to make my film and bring it to life on the big screen for the whole world to see. I began to find the right team members, some who came to me because they resonated with my story and concept. This is the stage where you have the motivation to keep going every single day, despite all of the obstacles and heartbreak from stings of rejection.
To keep sane, you also have to have a place of peace. For me, it’s the sunshine beach of Alameda Island, where I’ve grown up.
~ Remember, your story is always evolving until your last breath ~