Saturday, April 13Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

A Reflection of Love in the Purest Forms

By Tia Martello

As the year draws to a close in these final months, I find myself contemplating the relationships that have left a profound impact on me and how they resonate universally. These connections, be they romantic, platonic, or familial, have shaped my academic pursuits, life choices, and overall worldview. In this article, I aim to delve into my personal experiences of love in its purest manifestations, with the hope that these narratives may strike a chord within you. In a world that often races forward, perhaps we could all benefit from taking a moment to reflect on how our relationships mould our day-to-day existence.

Captivating Romance: Ah, romantic love – a sensation I trust we’ve all encountered in the course of this tumultuous year. Yet, I’m not just alluding to the affection shared with a significant other. Rather, I refer to that enchanting, almost cinematic love that you hopefully cultivate for yourself. The self-love that propels you out of bed each morning, eager to contribute your unique care to the world. It’s the very self-love that infuses your life with a touch of rom-com magic day after day. For those who’ve embraced passionate love with one another, it’s crucial to acknowledge the intricate dynamics at play when two individuals invest in diverse ways to sustain the connection. In fact, optimism towards romance stems from recognizing its challenges, as opposed to subscribing to a misleading notion of flawless love. Love, in its truest form, is far from perfection; it’s a whirlwind of emotions and unpredictability. It might flourish, or it might not. Through my own journey, I’ve realised that despite the highs and lows, love can endure and envelop. But, alas, no matter how deep your affection, love does not grant control over another’s feelings. Accepting this truth leads to a pivotal question: Is it genuinely love if you can’t dictate its reciprocation? While you may wish for someone to transform to achieve a balance in love, the power to effect that change lies solely with them. Remember, it’s not a shame to love intensely; in fact, it’s more pitiable when others struggle to display the love we all deserve.

Ironically, the initial thrill of unpredictability eventually loses its charm. Successfully navigating through the uncertainty hinges on the hope of shared objectives, ultimately rendering the unpredictable into a semblance of predictability. This might be the very secret to enduring partnerships, like my grandparents who weathered the storms of marriage. In pursuit of inspiration, I turned to my grandmother and asked her how, after so many years, they maintained their bond. Her reply was simple yet profound. “This kind of romantic love,” she said, “is a wonder because even when they’re absent, their presence lingers.” It’s a love that’s all-encompassing. A dear friend of mine recently extricated herself from a relationship that failed to meet her deserving expectations. A few months later, she found someone who showered her with everything she needed and more. Witnessing her joy, I realised that love, whether fleeting or everlasting, is something we all merit. As Hugh Grant quipped in one of his countless rom-coms, “Love actually is all around.” Even if you haven’t encountered it first-hand, seeking out love in the every day can be profoundly enriching. Remember, romantic love isn’t the only kind. My own journey has unearthed boundless love within family, friends, and the world at large. It’s in the elderly couple strolling hand-in-hand down the lane. I’ve come to learn that even if a specific individual refrains from loving me, I can draw that affection from the world around me. And when you do stumble upon love, whether it’s self-love, the love of a friend, or a partner, old or new, it should be a love that we all experience at least once in our lifetimes.

Enduring Friendship: This category of love is a universal experience. If you’re an exception, don’t fret – you’re always welcome in my inbox. Whether it’s a daily companion or someone you message once in a blue moon but instinctively know they have your back, this is the type of love that persists. And if it doesn’t, I regret to inform you that your friend might not be as genuine as you believe. Friendships, like all human connections, have their ups and downs, and that’s the beauty of it. Our shared humanity binds us together in a way that transcends physical desires, familial ties, or contractual obligations. It’s a choice to invest time in nurturing these bonds. From early morning pick-ups after a wild night out to being a shoulder to cry on through heartbreak, a true friend is there unconditionally. This form of love requires no personal gain – it’s driven purely by the desire to bestow affection upon a select few out of the billions populating this planet.

Yet, we often underestimate the depth of these relationships. Our modern fixation with digital interactions, however convenient, sometimes distracts us from the profoundness of physically being with friends. My close circle of friends, whether or not I agree with their life choices, is a conscious commitment I’ve made to share my journey with them. I firmly believe that friends come into our lives for different seasons. My university comrades have undeniably enriched my college experience, much like many of you reading this can likely attest to. When I needed emotional support during my first year, Liv was a steadfast presence, never hesitating to offer a helping hand. Our friendship, which has grown even stronger, now extends to Maddy in our second year. Fate brought us together as housemates, and whether we chat every day or infrequently back home, I know these connections will remain, an unwavering constant throughout life’s twists and turns. My time at Royal Holloway has revealed the potential for lasting friendships, showcasing how diverse human experiences unite us through love, cherishing each other’s unique qualities.

In the tapestry of human connections, love weaves a complex and beautiful pattern. It’s evident in the romantic endeavours that challenge and empower us, and in the unwavering bonds of friendship that ground us. As we approach a new year, may we continue to embrace and celebrate love in all its forms, for it is indeed the force that makes life profoundly meaningful.

The intertwining of family: The profound ties of family stretch deeper than any other thread in the rich tapestry of love. It’s the kind of love that is tied not only by blood, but also by shared experiences, history, and unbreakable bonds that have stood the test of time. When considering the various aspects of love, family takes a special place as a firm foundation that forms our identity and gives us a source of peace and belonging. In the tapestry of my own family, I’ve come to discover love in its myriad forms. At the heart of it all is a story that embodies the strength of love’s diversity. It’s a narrative that began with a single mother – a pillar of strength who shouldered the role of both parents, driven by an unwavering determination to ensure her daughter’s life was brimming with fulfilment. Through her resilience, she demonstrated the remarkable power of a mother’s love, a love that wears many hats.

And then, amidst life’s unfolding chapters, a new character entered the scene – someone who seamlessly stepped into the role of a father figure. This love story wasn’t about replacing what was absent, but rather about complementing and enhancing what already existed. This man, who radiated the qualities of a brilliant father, embraced his role with a devotion that knew no bounds. He didn’t just enter the picture; he wove himself into the fabric of their lives, creating a tapestry of love that was intricate, rich, and lasting. There’s something uniquely beautiful about those who enter our lives, not necessarily as constants from birth, but as cherished additions that lend an extra layer of significance. These are the individuals who, against all odds, decide to stay and become an integral part of our stories. It’s as if their presence, despite not being a lifelong companion, brings a certain magic that’s hard to describe – a magic born out of the unexpectedness of their arrival and the depth of their impact. The love that springs from such connections is a gift we didn’t seek, a gift given with an unconditional heart. It’s a love that isn’t demanded or required, yet it flourishes abundantly. It’s a love that arrives quietly, without fanfare, and yet manages to leave an indelible mark on our lives. Perhaps it’s the lack of expectation that makes this love all the more extraordinary. When someone walks into your story unprompted, with no obligation or societal pressure, their presence becomes a testament to the purest form of connection. They’re there because they choose to be, and that choice adds a layer of authenticity and depth that’s simply unparalleled. Within this tale of unexpected love, I find a resonance that reverberates through the countless stories of individuals who’ve found similar gems in the tapestry of their own lives. It’s a reminder that while blood ties are undeniably potent, love has an incredible ability to transcend the boundaries of conventional relationships. 

So, as I reflect on the various dimensions of love that shape our existence – from the romantic and the friendly to the enduring bonds of family – I’m reminded of this remarkable tale. It serves as a testament to the fact that love, in all its forms, is a force that has the capacity to surprise us, to uplift us, and to enrich our lives in ways we could never have predicted.