Asbury Musing part 2: Studying vs. Learning

I found this post waiting in the draft section; I forgot all about it, oops. Even though I wrote it way back in January, my thoughts on this subject haven’t changed and I wanted to share it with you now, with an added post-script at the end. ūüôā

Yesterday [January 13th] was my last first day of school. In a little over 4 months I will be done with my college career and school in general. An unsettling feeling comes when I think about how I’ll be done with two decades of schooling. Going to classes and studying is the only life I’ve known, and it’s all about to change. Yes, I could go to grad school and continue my education, but honestly I don’t want to go. I’m thankful I have been blessed with an education, especially a college one, but I’m ready to be done. Maybe that’s the senioritis talking, but I’m ready to put what I’ve been learning into practice. I’m ready to put the books down and make my rookie mistakes so I can gain experience in my field. Books and homework can only teach me so much before studying becomes stale and the joy of learning has faded.

Once I saw a quote on Pinterest attributed to Natalie Portman that said, “I don’t love studying. I hate studying. Learning is beautiful.” That quote sums up where I am right now: I am ready to be done with studying but not learning. I want to continue learning about anything and everything throughout my lifetime. My soon-to-come diploma does not mean I will know everything I need to in order to survive and succeed in life. I understand I still have a lot to learn, and that doesn’t scare or bother me. I’m actually excited by it! Even though my time at Asbury will be complete, I don’t want to stop learning. I want to learn from the wisdom of others, what life has taught them and how they refused to be defeated by the roadblocks in life! Because I will no longer have classes that will keep me accountable in my studies, I will have to create time to learn things on my own.

Does this mean I’m not going to try to study this semester? Of course not! I do still want to be a good student, and will take advantage of this time to sharpen my skills and talents. I’m going to continue to give my best in my schoolwork because I only have a little time left here at Asbury, and I’m not going to miss it for the world.

Like I predicted above, now that I am done with college it’s harder to for me to find the time to continue learning. So when I went to the Natural History Museum with a friend and I decided to look for things there that could help make me a better filmmaker and storyteller. That simple new mindset completely changed my experience at the museum. I picked through all the information presented and learned things I personally found interesting, such as bioluminescent creatures and the simplified definition of a mammal (hair + milk + special ear bones = mammal) and a number of different types of butterflies (one even landed on my friend‚Äôs head in the butterfly pavilion!). It was so much fun! Never again will a museum trip be just another museum trip; it will always be a new learning adventure.

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Asbury Musings part 1: Finding Strength in His Spirit

Two weeks ago I walked across a temporary stage in the gymnasium, received my diploma, and got my picture taken with Dr. Gray as a college graduate. I said goodbye to my friends, packed up my car, and left Kentucky. College¬†has been a crazy ride, full of good times and not so great ones, but through it all I learned a lot about myself. Over the past two weeks I have been processing what exactly I learned over the years and how I have changed. So, I thought I’d share my “Asbury Musings” with you.

I first thought about the drastic difference between my underclassmen and upperclassmen years. My freshman and sophomore years were a lot of fun and not that challenging. I hung out with my friends and we made a lot of crazy memories together (Sophomore Musical anyone?). But everything changed when junior year came around. My classes got harder, I was easily overwhelmed, and had to stop hanging out with most of my friends just to get my work done. I knew over half the people on campus but I couldn’t focus on all those friendships and pass my classes (example:¬†I had DFP and Screenwriting that semester). But the worst part was that I started having back problems that forced me to sit on the sidelines more often than I wanted to and watch my friends have fun.

It continued the same way in the following three semesters; less interaction with my friends outside of the classroom while my life gradually spun out of control. Then in the middle of my final semester at Asbury, I realized¬†that I was so run down, physically and emotionally, out that I couldn’t continue, even if I had one month until graduation. I was in the midst of a horrible back spasm and was angrily questioning God why I was in so much pain. I thought He healed me but I hadn’t had any improvement in a long time. I never knew what could trigger a back spasm and so I was scared to do anything that might set it off. Everything I tried to do to heal myself wouldn’t last, a back spasm would always come again and the pain would leave me almost paralyzed for several days. Nothing worked and I began to think there wasn’t any cure for me.

While I was desperately begging God to make the pain stop, He gave me a choice: I could continue living the way I was (stubbornly on my own) and quickly end up with a bad case of depression and anxiety, or I could choose to live in the strength of God’s spirit and trust that He would renew my worn out body, and then give me strength to finish out the semester strong.

Then it hit me: I had been trying to get better by using my strength, not God’s. I did my best to find my own cure, and then push through my semester so it looked like I was fine. I wasn’t “fine,” but I thought I had to be. I realized that if I wanted to live I couldn’t continue in my own strength because I had nothing left and no way of healing my back. But if I chose to live in the strength of His spirit I had a chance to live life to the fullest again.

I chose to trust that He would provide the healing I needed to finish the semester strong; and He did exactly what He promised. He gave me the strength and rest I needed to finish all my projects and finals, and to walk across that stage and jump off the stairs in celebration as an Asbury University graduate with minimal to nonexistent pain. Praise the Lord!

Now that college is over, my back is not 100% (it has yet to happen) and I’m still recovering from college itself. However, I will continue to live in the strength of His spirit everyday because, even though college is over, a new chapter in my life has already begun and I’m not going to miss one bit of it!

A Look Back: Directing My First Short Film

A little more than one hour ago I just called, “Cut! That’s a wrap!” for the first short film I ever directed.

It’s a little hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I just finished production on a project I’ve been working on since the middle of August (June if you want to go back to when I first got the idea). There’s a strange bitter sweetness that comes with wrapping production. On one hand you’re glad it’s over and all the stress of ending on time, getting the right shots, and communicating your vision clearly to your actors and crew in the fewest words possible is behind you. On the other hand, you’re sad that such a huge part of the project is over. After spending so much time with your friends creating and breathing life into the project together, the next day is spent going off to the edit suite¬†alone¬†to finish the final process.

Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled when I found out that I was required to take the ¬†‘Intro to Directing’ class in order to graduate. The thought of directing scared me, and I knew it would be a lot for me to handle. So I picked to film something I knew I was good at: dancing. While choreographing it and rehearsals were fun, everything else I had to do stressed me out to the max. A month ago I found myself so overwhelmed I got myself sick because of it. Directing is hard, and if I have gained anything from this experience it is a new found respect for everything a director does. There are so many little duties that fall under the title of¬†director¬†that it makes my head spin. So to the people who thrive in that environment, I tip my hat to you.

But I’ve learned more than just to have a respect for directors. As we stood around Little Buddy (my car) after we packed him to the roof with our equipment, my friend came up to me and gave me a big hug. She whispered in my ear how proud of me she was and commented on how much I have grown because of this project. I thought about it, and I realized she was right (though I would have never realized it on my own). While I have yet to put my finger on it exactly, I know I have matured in some way. My knowledge of filmmaking has grown, I have a better understanding of my abilities and limits, and I am more confident in who I am. I also have a clearer picture of potential jobs would be good for me to pursue after I graduate college. But there’s something else, some other way I have matured.

I think I have done more than just change. I think part of me grew up. Making this film was not easy, and I knew it wouldn’t be (though I had my hopes). During the upcoming editing process, I know it will continue to be hard because I will want to include every single shot, and every single line and almost every singe take because my cast and crew worked so hard and, by golly!, people need to know that! But that’s not why I make movies. I make movies to tell stories about life’s victories and hardships. So that means “killing my baby,” as some of my professors would say, and picking takes and shots that help convey the story rather than show off my friends’ talent. That is the only way I am able to tell the best story I can, which is what I wanted to do from the beginning.

I have a more realistic outlook on my filmmaking process. I know how much I don’t know and need to learn before I become a professional filmmaker. Yes, I’m a senior in college but that doesn’t mean I know everything yet. I may have head knowledge but I still need the lessons that come with experience. That means failing and messing up in front of people more than once, that means getting back on my feet and trying to learn from my mistakes instead of ignoring them.

Yes, my first film as director has wrapped.¬†Yes, I am thankful for all the hard work people put into this project (you all are¬†amazing!). Yes, I am thankful that I learned more about myself, such as my strengths and weaknesses. But the ride’s not over yet, and I still have a lot more to learn in this next week and as I continue to pursue my career as a filmmaker.

Houston, We Had a Problem…

I knew going into the semester that it would be a hard one. I needed both my hands to count how many projects I was committed to working on before I even arrived at school. Between homework and film projects I didn’t anticipate on having much of a social life. I figured that would happen on film sets and running into friends in between classes. At the beginning of the semester, people would ask me how often they would see me once they found out about my crazy semester. I would give them a knowing smile and say, “We’ll have to see.” I knew the likelihood of me actually spending time with friends outside of class like I have the past three years would be slim, but I had hope that it would work out. It was a small hope, I admit, but a hope.

Then October hit.

I knew it was going to be a rough month, but I had no idea. Even though projects were getting stressful and hectic, I thought I had everything under control. What a joke. The past two weekends I was supposed to be filming my Intro to Directing project. But two days before our first day of filming I found out we had to cancel because of¬†logistical reasons.¬†That rocked my week. There I was, mentally prepared to make a huge dent in my project, and the carpet was pulled from right under my feet. ¬†Beautiful. A week later, I had a meltdown in my car on a Sunday night because I was dreading every piece of homework I had to do in the upcoming week. I realized if things continued the way they were, I wouldn’t be able to handle it like a sane person should.

I was getting upset with God because I couldn’t understand why He was letting so much stress and worry into my life. Couldn’t He see that I couldn’t handle it? Couldn’t He tell it was too much for me? Did He miss that part that where the stress was choking me? Then I realized that life has its ups and downs.

Some months are really great, just really fantastic months, and you can’t help but think things are going to stay that way for a long time. And then your October hits. I don’t know what it is for you, but mine is full of big projects in several classes, midterms, and scheduling (which I’m not great at). By the grace of God, I managed to reduce my workload and things are starting to look up, but I’m not in the clear yet. I still have a long way to go, but I’m okay with that. I’ve given up control over the outcome of my projects and have entrusted it to God. In a way I was forced the to loose control of everything, and that helped me realize I’m not supposed to be in control in the first place.¬†Trying to control every single little detail of my life is exhausting, stressful, and chaotic. Everything goes wrong at the worst possible moment, and I stress and freak out over it as I try to piece everything together.

I know there will be other Octobers in my life, but maybe this one will prepare me for a different October in my life. And maybe I’ll be able to look back and be thankful for learning the lessons the October of 2013 taught me. I think I will, but right now I’m not in control; and that’s okay by me.

Not My Plans

I’m at a time in my life where I am expected to have a plan for my future.¬†I have already begun to brace myself for the same four questions that people will start asking me until I graduate from college.

    What will you do after you graduate?

    What do you want to do with your major?

    Where do you want to go? 

    Do you know what you want to do next?

While I do have a basic idea of what I want to do, my plans for getting there are already being foiled.

The things I think I need to do in order to prepare for life after college don’t work out. I haven’t even begun to learn the¬†skills I want to achieve. What’s my five-year plan once May 2014 hits? I honestly don’t know. If I stand still and look out upon my life I realize there are several directions I¬†could go right now, all of them different.

But I am learning one thing: my plans are not His plans.

I can do my best to prepare myself for what I¬†think¬†the future may hold, but it will probably be completely different from what I imagine. ¬†I’m learning that sometimes that might be for the best.

So, I can lie awake at night and beat myself up over the fact that life is not going the way I planned, or realize His plans are bigger than mine, and a whole lot better.