Samara O'Shea

As Always, Sylvia Plath

I have a copy of Sylvia Plath’s unabridged journals on my nightstand. I leave it there with the intention of reading an entry or two every night. More of often than not though I head straight to sleep. That’s actually a good thing for you; otherwise I’d be tempted to post every other entry of hers, and this blog would be all Sylvia all the time. I’m consistently taken aback by the way she describes the simplest things. Little acts. Passing thoughts. All-consuming emotions. I identify with her on many levels. Maybe too many levels—do I really want to identify with someone who committed suicide at the age of 30? Well, I am 29 with no sign of depression in sight (thankfully), so that sets my mind at ease a bit.

The entry below was written at the beginning of Sylvia’s second semester of her Freshman year at Smith College (she was 18). I’ve had days like this where I’m feeling jealous of just about everyone. Jealousy is one of those standard emotions that can get really out of hand—as anyone who’s had an overtly jealous lover knows. I pride myself on not being that jealous of a creature, but even I’m not immune to grinding my teeth occasionally when someone else has something I desperately want. The thing is, you can have everything and still want more. We’re humans and it’s our nature to never be completely satisfied, so it’s best to love what you have and send jealous tendencies to the wayside. I’ve found in the past few years that the best way to deal with jealousy is to admit you have it. It sounds strange but often times we live in denial about being jealous of someone. Denial in jealousy looks like this, “I don’t like her. I don’t know why I just don’t!” If you can’t put your finger on a reason for not liking someone then jealousy is usually the culprit. I find when I admit to myself that I want what someone else has (whatever that may be) then I can shrug my shoulders and follow-up with, “Okay but you don’t have it, so don’t worry about it.” And that’s that. Here Sylvia readily admits she’s feeling jealous, I wonder if the act allowed her to let some of it go . . .

1951
I am jealous of those who think more deeply, who write better, who draw better, who ski better, who look better, who live better, who love better than I. I am sitting at my desk looking out at a bright antiseptic January day with an icy wind whipping the sky into a white-and-blue froth. I can see Hopkins House, and hairy black trees; I can see a girl bicycling along the gray road. I can see the sun light slanting diagonally across the desk, catching on the iridescent filaments of nylon in the stockings I hung over the curtain rod to dry. I think I am worthwhile just because I have optical nerves and can try to put down what they perceive. What a fool!