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  • Reland Diva Johnson

Thank You For Being A Friend

Salutations, It’s been exactly three months to the day, and it’s crazy to me how the mourning process and the rush of monotony can easily make us fall back into bad habits and false thinking. I started this conversation to share my thoughts more freely with a broader range of people, in hopes that something I say might have an impact. That being said, when I started this journey, I had no idea where I was going. Additionally, some habits and mindsets I’ve developed over the years were more detrimental than I initially realized. Hither and yon, over the last year, I’ve come to realize that I’m a perfectionist, and I struggle deeply with imposter syndrome. For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Diva, and I’m a reforming perfectionist. A battle hard-won in a war that goes on forever.

The truth is that I haven’t been doing much writing this summer, although my summer reading list has been a smash hit, so I’ve spent a lot of time with my thoughts but very little time writing them down. However, I did read a few books recently that I thought were revolutionary, at least as far as my thinking goes, and I want to tell you about them. Also, there’s some exciting news towards the end if you stick it out with me.

How to be an Imperfectionist

The new way to self-acceptance, fearless living, and freedom from perfectionism

Stephen Guise

The Imposter Cure

How to stop feeling like a fraud and escape the mind-trap of imposter syndrome

Dr. Jessamy Hibberd

Firstly let me thank you for coming on this journey with me; trust me, I know it hasn’t been easy, and I’ve struggled at times with what to say - and I’ve stayed silent more often than I’ve wanted to. As most of you know, I am a recent pioneer bride, and I will tell you this, things are going well! Jason and I fall more in love all the time, and the nuptial bliss we have found in the four months we’ve been married has been a blessing. For those of you that don’t know, domestic tranquility has been a hard road for me, and I’ve had my fair share of tête-à-têtes over the years. All the past aside, Jason and I are happy, and we’re working hard to set ourselves up for a positive future.

The loss of a close friend coupled with the hills and valleys of marriage planning has been a long and turbulent ride. It’s hard to believe that a little more than a year ago, I asked my husband to marry me, and just six weeks later, the two of us, along with my mother, set out for a sixteen-day cross-country road trip. Does anybody else wonder where the time has gone? The last few months have been hard for various reasons, and I’m finding grace and thankfulness in smaller things than ever before. (My husband’s art, our dogs’ wobble, my photography.) However, sometimes grace is easier in theory than in practice; I can assure you that writing is no different. I’ve heard it said that grace is like manners or breeding, you either have them, or you don’t, but in the case of grace and thankfulness, I don’t think the either/or comparison is strictly correct. For years, I’ve struggled to be grateful for what I have rather than what I don’t. Likewise, I’ve struggled to be thankful for the lessons I’ve learned; while all were necessary, some knocked me flat, and not all answers were readily apparent.

A lot of things have caused my unhappiness, but something I realized by reading these two books is that I had unknowingly created a mindset where progress wasn’t good enough, and my expectations were set too high. I’ve allowed perfectionism to clip my wings, not daring to leave the branch out of fear of not making it back. These bad habits have shown up in many crucial areas, but none were more important than what I feel to be my true calling, writing.

As I’ve worked on my writing more and explored my options about what I want to write about, I’ve been able to write less and less, dwindling to the point that I could hardly write at all. When I did manage to get words on the page, I did so in such a halting manner that it took me hours to construct just a few decent paragraphs. I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and fear surrounding my writing for years, always assuming that my struggles were based on low skill and improbable outcomes. At one point in my life, I never thought I’d have writer’s block in any form; at many points, I could barely quantify myself as a writer. The truth was when I started to take things seriously, the less qualified I felt to do so, and the less work I got done. I found myself doing anything to avoid writing, even doing the dishes, to escape from something I felt wholly unqualified to do. Even after I thought I had decided to take things seriously, I still got caught in the trap of not feeling good enough to perform. I was stuck thinking that to be a writer, every word and sentence should show up crisply in my mind at the moment of thought, complete with correct punctuation and syntax. I thought the business of writing would be more straightforward - silly of me.

As you can imagine, habits are hard to break, it’s not as easy as waving a wand, and I still struggle with my feelings of imposter syndrome, fear, and inadequacy, every day. It took me a long time to become self-aware enough to realize that childhood habits and unhappiness often dog us well into adulthood. I’ve spent a lifetime blaming my problems on my past, my circumstances, lack of money, low education, and countless other things that don’t determine my worth as a human being. When I was younger, I cared less about what people thought about my writing, but it still took me a while to put the words together.

I won’t lie to you; changing my mindset hasn’t been easy, but the information provided in these two books was actionable, concrete, and, best of all - easy to digest! As I started to write this post, I started leafing back through my diary, I quickly skimmed through the last two years, and I found an entry I wrote the same day I posted my last blog entry. When I read it, it resonated so powerfully with the thoughts echoed throughout this post that I decided to share it in its entirety.

May Ninth, Dear Diary,

It’s truly wild to think she’s been gone four weeks now; I can hardly believe that an entire year has gone by since our engagement and epic Florida vacation. So much packed into what feels like such a tiny year. I cried so hard in the Fort Lauderdale airport; Jason was the sweetest thing and let me cry on his shoulder. Our decorous engagement of a year, and our wedding, seemed to slip right by. The days, even weeks, seem to slip by until the years have gone by ass over teakettle. I can hardly believe that I’m staring down the barrel of thirty-one, and I have so much, and yet, not so much to show for it. I couldn’t be happier with Jason, and I wouldn’t trade the last two years for anything on earth. I’m so happy that he has made me a pioneer bride; he was definitely worth the wait. But when I think of my professional life, I allow myself to be dragged down by so many thoughts; guilt, failure, and inadequacy assail me at every turn. I know that god gave me everything I need, so why can’t I find it? I’m trying to rage against the dying of the light; I hope for my sanity’s sake that it’s working.

Do not go gentle into that good night, old age should burn and rave at close of day.

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light - Dylan Thomas

I care about myself and my family too much to flame out. I’m going to rage against the dying of the light with everything I’ve got. Tonight I’ll pray for god to give me a ring of fire.

In other news, I did want to share something exciting with you, I know I’ve mentioned it to a few people, but this will be my first big announcement - I’m starting a podcast! It’s been in development for over a year, but my CoDiva and I are finally in production for a brand new true crime psychology podcast. For those of you that don’t know her, Kristen Cline and I have been friends since meeting at the Post Office in 2016, and when she brought the idea to me almost two years ago, I instantly said yes. We’ve still got a few months before our content will be available, but we are working hard to produce a quality product that we hope everyone will enjoy! It’s taken us a while to get to this stage, but we’re very eager and excited to be building a fantastic podcast for you guys.

This year I want to spend time counting my blessings and making each day count. I am happy and humbled to be where I am today and thankful to have so many friends and family standing behind me - I could not have done this without you. Thank you all for the birthday wishes, and for being a friend.


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