biggest dream

The Last Time I Tried to Learn Something New

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Almost a year ago, a videographer friend of mine asked if I would edit one his wedding videos. Since I liked editing, but mostly because I needed the extra cash, I agreed, despite my giant lack of experience.

It was a terrifying leap at the time, having to learn something new. I had edited a couple “trailers” for Hourly America (all of which are horrible now that I re-watch them) and that was the extent of my editing experience. Well, except for a claymation video I did in 7th grade. I had way more half started, never finished videos than I had videos I would be okay with someone watching. But for some reason, he trusted me enough to give me a shot (or he was really desperate, who knows?)

In one afternoon, he taught me his process for editing and what deliverables he expected of me. He handed over the hard drive and I spent the next two weeks staring into my computer screen in a daze of confusion and frustration. There were hours of footage to review and I had never done anything of this magnitude.

I watched a dozen tutorial videos on Adobe Premier, the editing software, that I had never used before. A few days in, I crashed the entire project once and had to completely start over. I watched the same clips over and over and over trying to figure out how to cut them and where to put them in the timeline. I think I spent two whole days agonizing over which songs to pick. At least twice a day I slammed my laptop shut and threw myself onto the couch dramatically telling Heath that I just couldn’t do it.

I quickly understood why my friend was so quick to pawn editing off to me. It was meticulous, detail-oriented, technical work. Turns out, he had used a few different editors trying to find someone to offload his editing too.

When I finally finished the project and sent it back to my friend, a weight had been lifted. Sure, I was done editing, but my mind was filled with worries and questions. What if he doesn’t like it and has to re-edit the whole thing? What if the bride hates it? What if she asks for a refund and my friend is out the money because I did such a terrible job editing?

Obviously, I’m a pro-worrier. It’s a skill I’ve acquired with age.

But, as per usual, I was worrying about nothing. (Partially because my friend (and the bride) actually liked the video I made and partially because the bride didn’t show up at my RV telling me that I was the worst editor ever, like I imagined).

In my memory, I think the words “nailed it” were used to describe my work, but I’m probably just making that up to make myself feel awesome. So I kept editing weddings with him and even filming some. And with practice and time, I can get weddings edited and finished in a week or a few days and I’ve learned a dozen different shortcuts and tricks to make it all easier. It’s still meticulous, labor-intensive work, but now that I know all the systems work, it’s all a little easier.

Last month I had the privilege to edit my little sister’s wedding footage. As I edited, I followed the same process I learned a year earlier, when I realized I had never tried to learn anything new or add to the videos I was editing. I was doing the same thing for each project.

So, since it was my little sister’s wedding and I had extra freedom to do what I wanted with the footage, I decided to make a little blooper reel of all the funny moments our family experienced during the day. Typically when I edit a wedding, I don’t know anyone in the footage. I’ve gotten pretty good at guessing who is a grandma or an uncle based on who is seen with who throughout the footage, but I’m always just guessing. (My general rule of tee thumb: if they have grey hair, include them in the trailer. They are probably family.)

But with my sister’s wedding, I knew all the family. I knew who was drunk and who was having the absolute time of their life (aka my little brother on both counts). Plus, after watching roughly four hours of footage, I can tell you that there is the most footage of the bride, but a close second is our youngest sister Sara who is a total camera hog.

These are the moments where my sister steals the microphone from the singer, where my dad joins the band on stage for a guitar solo, my brother crowd-surfs, my other brother does a backflip (now is a good time to mention I’m one of six kids). These clips are the funny memories you want to keep from your wedding day, but they are typically the shots that are too embarrassing or a little shaky or out of focus or maybe I just don’t want to include them because I don’t want to steal attention from the bride. So I threw them all into a timeline and edited “39 moments your family tried to steal the limelight,” which is how many clips I could include in the 3 minute song. I don’t know why I’m telling you this. You should just watch it and see the madness yourself:

 

I love editing and I really love editing weddings. (Side note: I cry multiple times a day when I’m editing weddings. They are all beautiful. I’m a baby.) But making this silly blooper video got me really excited. It was something different. A break in the tulle and lace and flower petals that are in every wedding.

It’s not every day someone comes up to you and asks you to learn something new. Actually, I’m pretty sure asking me to edit that first wedding video was the last time someone asked me to learn something new, and that was a year ago.

During Hourly America, someone told us this proverb about his view on work:

Running water never goes stale.

I love that sentiment. If you want to be good, you always have to be moving, learning, growing.

At the beginning of April (or the beginning of Q2 as my business-minded husband called it), Heath and I decided to start listing out the things we wanted to learn. Things like painting, piano, how to type faster, graphic design, how to self publish a book, etc. They are long lists. And a bunch of the things I listed are things that I’ve wanted to learn for years (I’m looking at you, “learn how to do the splits” AKA my longest running new year’s resolution that has never happened). But learning something new is hard, unless there’s someone there waiting on you, expecting it to happen.

Editing something new and doing something I hadn’t done before–even as harmless as a silly reel–gave me that same rush of worries and fears as when I finished editing my first wedding. It got me amped and I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone.

There’s something incredibly empowering about learning something new. And there’s something even more fulfilling when that thing you learn helps you make a product or a video, something you can point to and say “Hey, I built that. It totally sucked and it was really difficult and most of the time I was convinced I would have to quit because I couldn’t do it, but it’s finished now and I did it.”

I think the next thing I want to learn is watercolors, but there isn’t an arts store or even a Walmart nearby so I probably won’t. Maybe I’ll keep trying to learn how to do the splits. Or maybe I’ll just stick with editing videos since I know how to do that, but gosh, I hope not.


PS I write a monthly blog for Winnebago on their lifestyle website, WinnebagoLife.com. In April I wrote a short guide to Hot Springs National Park. This is by far the weirdest, most confusing national park I’ve ever visited, so learning more about how to navigate this park was tricky. But if you like hot tubs and gangsters, consider visiting and read my brief guide here.