The third lockdown has not brought much new to my life except a revived obsession with Love Island. Having made my way previously through all the UK seasons, Love Island Australia and briefly flirting with Love Island USA (bad move), I have returned to my former love: Love Island UK Season 3. For those less literate on Love Island trivia, that’s the season where Kem and Amber win.
I’m sure there’s some hidden meaning to watching sexy singles trapped on an island attempting to find love, whilst I’ve been trapped inside for 3 months. Perhaps I find it reassuring to consider Covid-19 as some elaborate prank that has forced us into a twisted version of Love Island — if someone had to underplay what this pandemic has done, then that certainly has. I won’t try to psychoanalyse it too much but I’m sure it means something.
However, Season 3 came out in 2017, before I had even left home to embark on my highly lucrative degree in English Literature, and long before I came to Edinburgh for my equally constructive Film Studies masters. I was 19 and still knew absolutely nothing, truly, about romantic love. Looking back, I was actually more clueless than I even felt at the time.
Watching it for a second time, I’ve found myself reflecting on the relationships I’ve had in between then and now. With International Women’s Day coming up it has been the female friendships and relationships I’ve had that come to mind. Unfortunately, that includes the unsuccessful ones.
During my undergrad it became apparently obvious that the girls I had become friends weren’t people I could rely on, nor were they kind. Realising that how they treated me was a form of bullying has been a struggle and something I have difficulty accepting. Mostly, because that is not a narrative I ever wished to include in my life, and I feel an awkward embarrassment. A part of me definitely accepted that due to decisions I had made, I had led myself to be treated that way. To be made to feel less than I am: a way no one should ever feel. I also would never have thought that I had gone through all my school years and ironically it would be at university where childhood tactics and meanness found me.
It was thereon I had my first experiences with panic attacks and anxiety, and three-years where I have struggled with my perception of myself — what are your early-twenties without a little bit of existential dread?! The saddest realisation, however, has been how I deprived myself of forming genuine friendships with other women. Friendships I definitely would have benefitted from if I had only been more open to them.
Ashamedly, by internalising everything that was said or done I punished myself the most. I closed myself off to the possibility that I could attract people who were kind and honest, after a series of relationships that were neither. I didn’t have those moments where I felt myself being a good friend because a nagging part at the back of my brain said, “everyone you meet will see you as a fraud and you are completely unlikeable”. Not very nice I know, but I acted the way I thought people saw me.
When lockdown came and I turned Love Island on, it was the enforced self-isolation I had imposed on myself before then that became so obvious. When I first watched Season 3 at 19 years old, I focused on who coupled up with who, the female friendships were just incidental. When I watch now it is those moments, I find the hardest.
Relationships are hard in general, so why add the pressure of thinking I am hated before I open my mouth you ask? I don’t have a fully formed answer to that yet, but I hope that in time when we come out of isolation, when new experiences and new people are a common feature again that I don’t revert to that unhealthy mindset.
I would tell anyone who feels undeserving of female friendship that punishing yourself will get you nowhere. From the worst to now, I have had by far the best and most rewarding relationships in my life with women. So, for the future when I stop watching Love Island and can go outside, I hope the women in my life know I am so grateful for them, but that I also can feel excited for all the women I am yet to meet.
I’m also excited for when I get asked to go on Love Island and become the first islander to take the full £50,000 when I win, choosing money over love in an outrageous turn of events, but that is definitely beside the point…
Image: Via Pixabay