‘You don’t owe them anything’, ‘You can do so much better’ are along the lines of what every good friend advises when you’re involved with someone and it all goes to s***. The situation is seemingly inextricable at the time. You don’t know if this will ever stop dominating your mind. You feel as though you may just marry this person out of awkwardness. Or tell them you love them when you intended to say, ‘We’re better off as friends, mate’. In University, getting involved with someone involves putting a lot on the line. Royal Holloway has a student body of 10,000. If Plato ran the place that would be 5,000 couples – a utilitarian hellhole of inescapable relationships. Thanks Plato, for making Paul Layzell look progressive. My point is that Royal Holloway is a village of sorts, sheltering us from the realities of adulthood and confining us to the ever-elusive Egham. Your path is bound to cross that of your ex’s, and on the flip side, your crush’s. University is a prism of thoughts, books and platitudes your drunk mates tell you when you say shit like ‘I’m going to be alone until I die’ or ‘Honestly, I might just drop out if I bump into them again’.
A University dalliance, for some (definitely not me), is a disaster waiting to happen. A disaster you foresaw that first time she caught your eye at Medicine, wearing that green skirt you like so much. Or a disaster you knew was inevitable from the moment he began talking about dropping out of Uni to pursue music full-time. You smile and try not to cringe when he plays the guitar and sings out of tune Christmas hymns. Instead of serenaded, your mind feels invaded. Silent Night made you feel more like you were re-watching Silence of the Lambs. Your thoughts are invaded by that one person you have a soft spot for. Invaded by ways to cut off that person who has a soft spot for you. Relationships at our age are very often doomed, I think Secret Admirers demonstrates that on the daily. Whether it’s biology or boredom, I don’t know, but for some reason we all keep coming back for more.
Christmas is especially conducive to attractions and mess-ups; it’s easy to lose sight of boundaries after two mugs of mulled wine and a gentle reminder from your loved-up friends that you’re spending yet another festive season without a significant other. ‘Tis the season to mingle, apparently, but when you live in commune-like accommodation and have until May to make colossal mistakes, you may want to think twice before getting with someone you only drunkenly like.
What I’m saying is, don’t succumb to the pressure of Yuletide. Try not to get mired down in social etiquette which dictates that we all must be extra kind this time of year. If you’re not happy in a situation, then try to get out of it, but note: you’ll keep bumping into this person until you graduate. Navigate your life selfishly this Christmas, to ensure that that first week of Term Two is bearable for you. Finally, remember to chuckle, as you finish the last of the Quality Street, over the fact that more than half of the relationships you admired in 2019 won’t survive 2020.