Life As A Videography Student

A few weeks ago I messaged my dear friend Madi and asked if she would be the first post of my new segment called “Perspectives”, and she eagerly aggreed. Madi is the first of a monthly segment of guest bloggers who have stories to share about life, love, and other lessons learned along the way. I hope you enjoy this as much as I have enjoyed creating this! So without further adu: Madi Zoller!

“What would you do with a film degree?”

Four years ago, that was a question I received from my family and friends as I entered my freshman year at Penn State majoring in Film and Video Production.

Half jokingly and partially serious, I would respond, “I want to be the next James Cameron, you know, the director, writer, and editor of Titanic and Avatar. I want to do it all!”

They would usually give me this warm smile with a roll of the eyes that said, “Oh no, not another crazy dreamer. “
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I would then say, “You know there’s a lot you can do with a film degree. There’s film, television, commercials, media, online content…”

I sounded like Bubba from Forrest Gump, but instead of naming all the ways you can cook shrimp, I would name all of the ways that I could use a film degree, as if trying to justify why I decided to study film. But despite all the doubts from others and within myself, I jumped feet first into the unknown, but little did I know that I was actually walking a path prepared for me.

You see, my main goal in life was to be this award-winning, glory hound of a filmmaker, but that radically changed when Jesus Christ called me to follow Him as a freshman. Following Christ changed my view on life, success, and my future. In short, I no longer wanted to be the next James Cameron.

I get a very different question now: “Why are you going into full time ministry after studying film for four years?”

My response goes back to what I had to learn by earning a degree in filmmaking: being a filmmaker is not my highest calling.

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I love filmmaking and editing and I love seeing a finished product after many hours of hard work, but I love Jesus more. And while I could work in the film industry as a Christian and a filmmaker, it’s just not what I’m excited about when I wake up in the morning. And that’s okay.

What I’m excited about is the Great Commission given by Jesus as written in Matthew 28: 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Being a follower of Christ and making followers of Christ. That is my highest calling. And it could lead me to the film industry or it could lead me to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ on the college campus.

I wish I could go back to when my family and friends first asked, “What would you do with a film degree?” And respond confidently with, “What can God do with it?”

Even though God changed my heart and my goals for the future, I don’t regret studying film and I don’t think that it was a waste of time. God used it mightily in my life. I learned how to work collaboratively in groups, express my creative ideas and thoughts to others, persevere through time consuming and hard projects, and so much more. Being a film major tested my faith, but it also helped me grow.  And look what God did with it! He used my bold decision to study filmmaking at Penn State to draw me to Himself, to save me from my sins, and to give me an abundant life in Jesus Christ, filled with dreams beyond what I could have ever imagined at nineteen.

I may have earned a degree in film and video production after four years of college, but I gained so much more!

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Madi Zoller is the founder and writer of the blog She Laughs Without Fear. She holds a Bachelor’s of Art in Film and Video Production from Pennsylvania State University and has a passion for creating, serving others, and loving people. To view her videos and read her works head over to shelaughswithoutfear.com

Goodbye, Grads.

I have had countless friends graduate this spring from college. And I am so proud! While I am not graduating until November, I found it hard this quarter (and this year) to feel sentimental or even sad about the change that is coming upon us all. 

However, now our little college town is clearing out fast. As people go away for the summer, or begin new adventures both close to home and in far off places, I can’t help but feel the rush of the sentiment I had pushed away for so long. 

  
To all of my college grad friends: 

I have loved every second with each of you. All of the late night talks and crazy adventures; all the fast food and ice cream runs; all the joy and peace shared during times of stress. 

I remember coming as a freshman and being so excited for the future, but afraid of how big the world seemed at the time. And yet, getting to know each of you not only made the world seem smaller… But filled with more possibilities than I could ever imagine. 

  
As freshmen, many of us had wild risk-taking dreams about our future. Don’t lose sight of these seemingly crazy things. The only way the world can change for the better is if we allow ourselves to think that it can be changed…. and that we can change it. 

Thank you for the encouragement to keep going. Pushing each other though hard classes and all-nighters…. but also pushing to have fun. 

I will miss seeing each of you on campus or just in our cute little town. The hardest part will be not seeing your sweet faces regularly! 

Thank you for your warm hellos, hugs, and genuine hearts. Go out and while remembering these joyful days, continue to make more for yourself and others. 

  

My Year Off from Titles

Before I go any further, I just want to say that absolutely none of this comes from a place of anger, bitterness, or regret. I have learned these lessons on my own because they were lessons I needed to be taught. I am not blaming, accusing, or hating on any person, group of people, or organization. This is just what I have learned and how I have grown from my experience.

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I have learned how to be strong. I have learned how to have the courage to keep going.

For the first three years of my college career I was in a whirlwind of activities. I was a part of several different school organizations, on leadership at my church, and also a leader in on-campus ministries. Not only did I participate on paper with titles, but all of my free time was consumed with leading others or being present every single time anyone asked me to be there. I would stay up all hours of the night, get up early, and sometimes miss my homework deadlines due to the amount of responsibility I had put upon myself.

By the middle of my Junior year I was flat out exhausted. I was tired. I was discouraged. I was burnt out. And it wasn’t the fact that I wasn’t being “filled” spiritually… I was in SO many Bible studies it is CRAZY. And I actually was learning from all of them. It was just that I felt the need for rest. Maybe instead of being at six (yes SIX) ministry related activities each WEEK, I needed to take time to rest in God’s presence. To remember why I had loved doing what I did.

And that is what I did. I had become too attached to the “Leader” label. I loved it. I loved hearing people say I was on leadership or was a team leader. I loved being super involved and having a voice. I loved fighting for my passion when others did not deem it important. But I loved it too much; I loved it more than the reason why I was doing these things. So with that, I pulled out all of my leadership and membership applications for my Senior year, ready and willing to see how God would use this last year of college for His glory.

This year has literally been the hardest year yet. Being a senior brings life change with harder classes (and then getting engaged…) and less time, and I felt it. So I tried to reach out. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried to love, encourage, or meet with people, things never worked out. I began to feel the loneliness.

I began noticing how since I had no label, I was not important. I knew nothing of events to go to until after they were over. I could never meet with the people I needed/wanted to. My community was lost. All because I let go of a title. Something I believed would be freeing and joyful and encouraging turned in to loneliness, sadness, and hurt.

I felt feelings of betrayal and being forgotten. I had wrapped my community up into one place, and it was shattered when I could no longer give as much of me as I had before.

These depressing thoughts loomed over me daily.

I could not escape the trap of loneliness that I thought was so unjustly cast upon me.

And in someways I am still dealing with these emotions. While this year is coming to an end, I have realized the purpose.

The Lord does not call me to a life of comfort.

The Lord does not call me to a life of popularity.

The Lord does not call me to a life of half-heartedness.

The Lord calls me to live a life that invests. A life that loves deeply. A life that encourages even when I am not being encouraged. A life of rejection. A life of being an outcast. A life of joy that only comes from Him.

See, I lost that when I was a part of these leadership teams. I loved being a part of the team so much that i would become surface level in my friendships.

I realized that even though it seems like it is, the church is not supposed to be a fraternity.

That is what my community was. Surface level. Giving to me only if I gave all I had. I felt that I had to have a certain personality to fit in. I had to wear certain clothes or say certain phrases to be included in these ministries. And I did these things. I changed to become like others. And that was what had burnt me out. I was being a different person that I was called to be.

God used these experiences to show me how far I had gone into my safety bubble. My little Christian bubble was so thick, I could not see outside of it. I could not see when people were hurting. I had to live a year of my life outside of the bubble. Make friends with those different than me. To feel the rejection and bitterness. To feel alone.

I don’t understand everything (obviously…). But I do feel more open. I feel more compassion to those outside of the selective ministry we have created. God is bigger than just that small group. He loves everyone.

What am I doing to share that?

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Why I Wear Flower Crowns

And heart shaped glasses. And cat tee-shirts. And other silly things.

I get asked at times why I choose to wear the clothes that I do. Sometimes my clothes are silly, a bit unusual or just plain childish. But I wear them anyway.

 I don’t have a side of me that wants to rebel against the norm. I don’t try to find clothes people never wear on purpose. I’m not a crazy cat lady (yet). I just love seeing people smile.

Walking through campus wearing my “Pudge the cat” shirt brings me so much joy because so many people smile or even giggle at it. I even had a person stop me once so they could take a picture because it brightened their day.

HOW CRAZY IS THAT?

 My heart-shaped sunglasses and flower crowns do the same thing. People laugh, giggle, or just smile.

And then those people talk.

Sometimes it’s short. Sometimes it’s a passing hello. Sometimes I get a thumbs up. All of these are positive reactions. Personal interactions, let alone positive ones, are starting to  become more and more rare. It’s harder to have interactions because of phones and other distractions… So these small little positivities are so important.

Smiling and being joyful are rare, fragile, and beautiful qualities that are easily forgotten or trampled in hard times. If I can wear funky clothes to share the love with others, then I absolutely will… Even if I look silly. 🙂

What else can we do to love people and bring a smile to their faces?

 

Ps. Pudge the Cat is on Instagram and YouTube! Go brighten you day with a dose of Pudge by clicking on this @pudgethecat picture!