Sunday, 12 May 2013

That Yearning Feeling

This is something of a move away from my usual historical topics discussed on this blog (by the way, keep your eyes peeled for May 19th, when I'll be documenting the execution of Queen Anne Boleyn). Sometimes it can be interesting and, in some ways perhaps, refreshing to consider more personal issues which affect people's lives which don't necessarily have to be historical. Having said that, the topic of this particular blog post is love which, of course, features heavily in history.

A satisfying relationship, of course, does in no way need to revolve around a destructive, even violent, passion (consider the ill-fated and infamous examples of Antony & Cleopatra, Catherine Earnshaw & Heathcliff, Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn, to name but a few). Some of the most enjoyable couplings in fact are more gentle, earnest, and above all easy (although no relationship, of course, is 'easy').

University is interesting in how it can create relationships. Many students (myself included) experience terrible loneliness, even isolation, while studying at uni; it seems strange to write this bearing in mind that my usual blog posts are actual historical issues which leave me in a somewhat detached position - despite my actual opinions regarding these issues. But this of course is something much more personal and, in a sense, it may help to write about it.

Why is it that we feel the need to have a relationship? Of course, it's true, many people don't, and they revel in the freedom which being single means. Furthermore, it seems fair to say that a relationship is generally more important when you're older, as opposed to being still a university student. But for people who are insecure, alone, and quite emotional (like myself), it really can seem like the be-all and end-all just to have someone who really cares about you in your life. As mentioned, no relationship is easy, and brings its own set of problems. Yet it also brings hope, happiness and of course love, which can surely compensate for other complex issues.

While still a teenager, or a young person, there shouldn't be any rush, particularly with all the pressures which university life brings anyway. And it's important to try and find the right person, someone who fits well with your interests, your sense of humour and your personality, rather than just aiming to make do with anyone. For myself, this is quite an important time; with the university year coming to an end, the beginning of summer, my continuing research on Queen Katherine (and her own very ill-fated 'love affairs', if you can even call them that!), and the fact that, as anyone obsessed with Tudor history will know, this period witnesses the tragic downfall, arrest, imprisonment, conviction, and execution of a Queen and five men, all of whom were almost certainly innocent. In that case, a toxic mix of love, jealousy, adultery, conspiracy and hatred worked together to create a poisonous and, ultimately, murderous situation when as Sir Thomas Wyatt poignantly wrote, 'these bloody days have broken my heart'.

This year has been important for me, in allowing me to understand my personality better, how to manage emotions and, probably most fundamentally, learning about people and issues of trust. Of course there have been many disappointments, which probably explains why I'm writing this article in the first place. If I could have anything in the world right now, it would be to have someone committed to me, interested in my research, happy with my company, and loving me for who I am.

But having become much more of a realist this year, and having a feel now for being away from home, I can understand that this isn't perhaps that likely to happen - probably not soon, at any rate. What I have learned is that it's not something worth obsessing over. There are other, and perhaps far more important, things which should be concentrated on. If I'm lucky, this will all happen in its own time, and since it's natural, it won't have to be forced. But as anyone who knows me will understand, being an intense and above all emotional person means that living with such insecurities can be difficult: particularly when you know that it only takes one person and a committed relationship which can change all that.

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