I’m wearing my One Direction concert t-shirt today in mourning.
Unless you’re living in a secluded shed far away from the presence of teenage girls and social media, you’ve probably heard that heartthrob Zayn Malik quit the over-the-moon successful boyband One Direction yesterday afternoon. Zayn left the tour last week for what was assumed to be a temporary hiatus to cope with “stress” in his life (there is speculation that he did so in order to sort out rumors associated with romantic photos taken in Thailand with a woman who was not his fiancée, Perrie Edwards). Though management did not confirm when he was going to return, fans were hopeful that he would be back in time for their own concert on the world tour.
Then came yesterday. When my sister hopped off the bus and relayed the information to me, I felt a sort of despair that any adolescent girl who dedicated the past four years of her life to a band would. I raced to my iPhone, fingers rapidly skidding across the keyboard, to see for myself. To my dismay, it was true. A statement was released on Facebook that said it all: thanks, I appreciate it, but I want a normal life. Meghan Pottle addressed this topic in her blog post; it’s rather impossible for Zayn to have a normal life at this point. He’s achieved a sort of monumental stardom that never goes away.
Needless to say, the outpouring of teenage girl insanity ensued to an extent that would lead you to believe Zayn had died:
Pictured: some crazy girl on Tumblr attempting to “appease the gods”
The world was left in turmoil. You may think I’m exaggerating, but this went beyond teenage angst and the hysterical meltdown of young girls. Through my distraught research, I unearthed that the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted over one percent following Zayn’s announcement, according to Buzzfeed News. Business Insider suggested that the drop in the label’s stock yesterday was attributed to insiders finding out prior to the announcement.
Picture from Buzzfeed News
In addition, One Direction’s Spotify account saw what the Daily Mirror is calling a “spike of sadness” following Malik’s departure (nearly 769% of an increase!).
The story became so big that even CNN, a renowned, credible news site, wrote an article for parents titled, “Zayn Malik leaves One Direction: A survival kit for parents“. The article is set up in Q&A style, with advice from an actual psychologist about coping with the loss of a boyband member. Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is. Below is an excerpt:
Arm yourself with some tissues and take a step back, advises child psychologist Dr. Louise Porter. “A parent’s job is to understand that they’re sad, even if we don’t understand why. If we think it’s an over-the-top reaction for the circumstances, that doesn’t matter,” says Porter.
She advises against trying to placate and console.
“You don’t need to console, you don’t need to give advice. There was a famous communicator by the name of Marshall Rosenberg who said ‘don’t just do something, stand there.’ They just need us to hear the message that says ‘you’re sad.'”
The article goes on, calling for an open dialogue with your child about the grief they are feeling, because it’s driven some girls to self harm. I find this to be so incredibly sad that young girls would do such a thing over a boy they’ve never met. I attribute this partially to the media blowing this ridiculously out of proportion. There have been quizzes (How Are You Dealing With This Whole Zayn Thing?), there have been ridiculously exaggerated tweets (@Dennys: we are here for you, directioners, in your time of mourning; prepared to make you all the comfort food you need after this inzayn news), and not to mention the candlelight vigils popping up around the internet.
There’s a lot of different things that can be said about Zayn’s exit from one of my favorite musical groups of all time. I could further delve into the economic setbacks the label will face, discuss the mental toll it has on the fans, or I could just wrap it up by expressing a cliche universal truth: all things must end.
While the quartet remaining stated that they will continue to produce album and tour, it still feels like the beginning of the end for One Direction. It’s not that they’ll be bad, it’s just that they’ll be different, and people don’t tend to like change. I remember listening to “What Makes You Beautiful” my eighth grade year and falling head over heels for a bunch of boys I only knew from YouTube videos and interviews. I’ve grown up a lot since then, and they experienced four years of growth themselves. Washington Post marveled at the longevity of One Direction’s success and their record breaking albums, and I think that the fans bawling their eyes out need to just enjoy the five years One Direction gave us and let go a little bit.
Zayn’s exit from One Direction, as gut-wrenching and upsetting as it may be, is a truthful representation of how life goes. Unexpected things happen, change strikes your life, and you need to cope with it. This is especially true with high school students like me getting ready to go to college in a year or so: everything I’ve known for the past few years will change and I’ll need to learn how to deal with it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different. It’s simply a part of life and growing up.
After all, life can’t keep going in one direction forever (I realize that was extremely cheesy but oh well).
August 3, 2014: The last time I will ever see all five of them together again