Live Through This

Dear Sylvia

Looking for advice from a literary legend.

Illustration by Leanna

Illustration by Leanna

This year has been undoubtedly tough for me. Things started to escalate in October; not only did my schoolwork and tests begin to engulf me, but my emotions were runnig amok, and I was not happy overall. I started to read more; I turned to classics that I borrowed from my mother’s friend, since they seemed to portray the raw realness that I was experiencing more than the young adult novels in my library. It was around this time that I rediscovered Sylvia Plath. I had found out about Plath through my seventh grade creative writing class, and she quickly became my favorite poet. But she was even more than that; she was the one person on earth that I felt would truly understand what I was going through, even if she couldn’t respond. So I started writing to her.

Dear Sylvia,

I feel like there is a colossal weight bearing down on me, not only because there is currently a headache shiftily making its way toward me, but because people and being around them can be so burdensome. I feel as if I’m trapped in a Barbie Dreamhouse from hell; I should be content with my plastic friends, but really, sometimes I just want to run into them with my Dream Car.

It’s become too hard to adhere to what people want me to do. It seems like it’s almost always been about what others want me to say or do or think. Sometimes I feel the urge to channel Lesley Gore, leap up onto a table, yell, “YOU DON’T OWN ME! I’M NOT JUST ONE OF YOUR TOYS!” and run out of the room without ever stopping, sprinting until I a become a wave of light, having only to worry about streaming ever so subtly through a broken window pane of an abandoned house. Content.

Alas, I’m stuck here, for a few more weeks, in this hell that masquerades as a place for young men and women to learn. Ha. It feels like a stable. I’ve gotten sick of everyone’s voices and sweat and questions.

Sylvia, I have a question for you: Have you ever alienated yourself before? As in, have you ever been around others, yet felt lonely? Distanced yourself? Wanted to cry without really having a reason as to cry? Self-ostracizing has become an ugly stain on my existence.

Whenever lunchtime rolls around at sixth period, I feel the oddest feeling of discomfort, one that’s more than an issue of “how do avoid people, especially those who are supposed to be closest to me?” rather than “Where do I sit? What do I do? Will someone I know be there?” The familiarity that I strived for for so long now seems stressful to handle, and I can’t meet my social requirements anymore: It hurts to laugh at so-and-so’s joke, or to smile at so-and-so from across the room. Things that should be second nature seem so foreign, like I am viewing them through some sort of cracked lenses.

Sylvia, I don’t know. I just don’t. My headache is even worse and lunch is next and I can’t look my friends in the eyes, not out of guilt, but just not being able to. I feel lost. I need stability. I wish I could go home, but of course, it will be hours before that happens.

My headache is HORRIBLE now. I’m not sure what to do. Thoughts? —Britney

Sylvia Letter 1 Part 2


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  • Marian June 18th, 2013 3:20 PM

    This really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing something so personal and beautiful, Britney.

  • mel_klucz June 18th, 2013 3:34 PM

    Thank you for posting this! so relatable. I come to rookie whenever I have a bad day. Thanks for sharing this Britney!

  • EvaLavender June 18th, 2013 3:41 PM

    Britney, these were so great. Thanks for sharing them.

  • Sophie ❤ June 18th, 2013 3:51 PM

    This was so beautiful- the whole thing together, I mean! ❤❤❤

  • Caitlin H. June 18th, 2013 3:55 PM

    Britney, this is all so beautiful- I too have a bit of an obsession with Plath, half my bookshelf seems to be books by her, about her or to her. You have a magical way with words, I really love this. <3

  • Eileen June 18th, 2013 5:22 PM

    I loved this, I don’t know what else I can say. You’re obviously perfect

  • Sophii June 18th, 2013 5:35 PM

    This made me cry. I had a horrendously terrible day today and I wrote a letter to Coco Chanel about it all. Plath was a poet and Chanel was a fashion designer but I’ve read a lot about Chanel and really relate to her. I often write letters to Chanel and James Dean and Oscar Wilde. Some of what you wrote, is really relevant in my life right now, hence me crying. Your handwriting is beautiful and your writing style is perfect. Each letter is like a poem itself. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing something so intensely personal. This is, without a doubt, one of my favourite posts on rookie.

  • Eryn June 18th, 2013 6:15 PM

    Britney, I love you so much. This is so beautiful.

  • galaxia June 18th, 2013 6:49 PM

    i really needed this.
    thank you, Britney.

  • UncutWallflower June 18th, 2013 6:54 PM

    I thought this was beautifully written, and sums up pretty much everything I feel done to the very details including Hole and Sylvia. It is in fact one of ym favourite Rookie articles of all time. Thank you. Just thank you.

  • Kourtney June 18th, 2013 6:56 PM

    Britney, I love you. Thank you for this.

  • Yayo June 18th, 2013 7:10 PM

    Oh my gosh this is breaking me. Literally crying right now.

    Because I feel such similar emotions almost all the time.
    And also because I totally relate to having a weird/practically useless coping mechanism… just trying to get it all out of my head without actually sharing with anyone who will laugh or think I’m stupid or mentally ill – I don’t think I’m either of those things.

  • Hailey Mah June 18th, 2013 7:48 PM

    This was incredibly moving, Britney. Posting this was brave and I want to thank you for having the guts to share this with all of us readers.

  • book_kitty June 18th, 2013 7:49 PM

    I havent read anything except the first letter yet, but already your diaries resonate so much more with me now. THe first letter captures my feelings so much right now and I’m not sure if its just teenage angst/moodiness or something else.

  • AnaRuiz June 18th, 2013 8:33 PM

    Nothing is more comforting than to have a literary “kindred spirit,” that soul whom you are sure you are a (somewhat less brilliant) reincarnation of, because they say whatever you feel so perfectly! For me it’s LM Montgomery.

  • LeavesThatAreGreen June 18th, 2013 9:08 PM

    This is so beautiful I don’t know what to say.

    I too love Sylvia Plath. I also love the Swedish poet Karin Boye and used to make up similar letters to her, but in my head.

    Thank you.

  • spudzine June 18th, 2013 10:42 PM

    At first, I didn’t want to say how beautiful your writing is, because that would be me admitting that you must be really sad on the inside. But your writing is so, SO beautiful. I have never seen such writing that was so sweet and poetic. Please keep writing beautifully. You write so beautifully because you have sad thoughts, but writing beautifully doesn’t mean you have to be sad. You don’t have to be sad. The writing comes from within you, because of YOU.

  • Tyknos93 June 18th, 2013 11:24 PM

    This hurt so good. Like “sobbing while writing this but knowing I need to, because everything will be okay afterwards” good. Thank you. It’s beautiful, it’s made me think alot about things. So much occurred to m while reading this and that hasn’t happened in a long time. In so SO long. Thank you. I want to be able to express with as much clarity and nuance as you have injected into this piece, but I’m not ready to be that honest yet. Err just THANK YOU.

  • A Fox In The Snow June 19th, 2013 5:27 AM

    Britney, this was so good! Really made me think and encouraged me to write more in my diary again. Oh and I like your writing style a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • AliceS June 19th, 2013 5:30 AM

    Thank you for sharing these letters. You feel less lonely, somehow, when you realize that you are not the only one to feel this way.
    Your writing is so good and so… emotional. I mean, I can really feel the emotions beyond your words.
    Thank you again.

  • AidaA June 19th, 2013 6:54 AM

    This is so beautiful and it made me hurt in a sort of good way to know there are other people who write to literary figures as well and I’m not alone in doing that. I write to Oscar Wilde and this summer I’m planning to go to his tomb in Paris. Britney this is amazing and so are you so thanks you so much for writing this.


  • Graciexx June 19th, 2013 7:22 AM

    Absolutely beautiful.

    p.s. You also have really nice handwriting :)

  • Chloe22 June 19th, 2013 10:39 AM

    Dorothy Parker is like this, for me. Like her, I have that dead pan, ironic sense of humor. And people called her work ”flapper verse”, which makes it even cooler.
    ”News Item: Men seldom make passes,
    at girls who wear glasses”

  • GabbyCat June 19th, 2013 1:43 PM

    You are a truly amazing writer. It was so brave of you to share something so personal. I think Sylvia would be proud.

  • raggedyanarchy June 19th, 2013 7:07 PM

    These are SO beautiful! Thanks for sharing them, even though they’re so personal. Sometimes it’s easier to write letters than a diary entry, you know? I’ve written to poets before.
    I’m sorry about your friend. Losing friends is really tough.

  • all-art-is-quite-useless June 20th, 2013 12:35 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing, even though this is so personal – I have difficulties even sharing short stories I write because they feel to close to my inner thoughts, despite them not even being about me… I’ve read Sylvia’s poetry for a few years; I read the bell jar about a month ago for the first time, after going through a really stressful/depressing/arrrggghhh time (exams and deciding what school to go to next year compacted by feeling lonely and feeling isolated from my friends at the same time as fear of losing them, plus general low self-esteem), and related to it so much. Its one of the most affecting books I’ve ever read, and made me feel less lonely knowing that someone else has felt similar (but to a more extreme and longlasting extent) to me.

  • tabbycat June 21st, 2013 7:53 PM

    this is amazing !
    it’s almost exactly how i feel but i still don’t really know what to do about it…
    just, thank you! i love it! <3

  • barbroxursox June 23rd, 2013 4:12 PM

    Wow, Britney, these are beautiful! I admire people who can put these melancholic feelings into words and make them so poetic and beautiful, like you and Sylvia. I felt very similar to you about a year ago, and this captures those feelings so well. Britney, you’re a great writer! :)

  • Rushmore June 26th, 2013 6:15 PM

    There’s a great youtube channel called Pearls of Wisdom that has a woman with a really beautiful voice speaking poems. Here’s Mad Girl’s Love Song by Sylvia Plath :

  • Peony21 July 9th, 2013 11:35 PM

    I feel like this a lot, Britney. It’s terribly cliche but the most intelligent people are the ones who get most lost in their own minds…I find myself dreadfully lonely when I allow my mind to wander off.

    Writing helps. I am not a great writer, but this inspired me to try a bit more. Thank you for sharing your entries, it’s nice to be reminded that I am not the only one who feels this way from time to time.

  • Britney July 24th, 2013 3:04 PM

    Thanks everyone, for everything!