From the Unabridged Journals

“What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated, brilliantly promising, and fading out into an indifferent middle-age.  Instead of working at writing, I freeze in dreams, unable to take disillusion of rejections…

 And by the way, everything in life is writable if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.  And you are so obsessed by your coming necessity to be independent, to face the great huge man-eating world, that you are paralyzed: your whole body and spirit revolts against having to commit yourself to a particular role, to a particular life which might not bring out the Best you have in you.  Living takes a very different set of responses and attitudes from this academic hedony…and you have to be able to make a real creative life for yourself, before you can expect anyone else to provide one ready-made for you.  You big baby… 

I have this demon who wants me to run away screaming if I am going to be flawed, fallible.  It wants me to think I’m so good I must be perfect.  Or nothing.  I am, on the contrary, something: a being who gets tired, has shyness to fight, has more trouble than most facing people easily.  If I get through this year, kicking my demon down when it comes up, realizing I’ll be tired after a days work, and tired after correcting papers, and it’s natural tiredness, not something to be ranted about in horror, I’ll be able piece by piece, to face the field of life, instead of running from it the minute it hurts…

Talking about my fears to others feeds it.  I shall show a calm front and fight it in the precincts of my own self, but never give it the social dignity of a public appearance, me running from it, and giving in to it….I’ll keep myself intact, outside this job, this work.  They can’t ask more of me than my best, and only I know really where the limits on my best are.  I have a choice: to flee from life and ruin myself forever because I can’t be perfect right away, without pain and failure, and to face life on my own terms and “make the best of the job.”

 No more knuckling under, groaning, moaning: one gets used to pain.  This hurts.  Not being perfect hurts.  Having to bother about work in order to eat and have a house hurts.  So what.  It’s about time.  This is the month which ends a quarter of a century for me, lived under the shadow of fear:  fear that I would fall short of some abstract perfection:  I have often fought, fought and won, not perfection, but an acceptance of myself as having a right to live on my own human, fallible terms.”

-Sylvia Plath

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