On March 25, 2015, catastrophe struck many lives around the world – tears were shed, hearts were broken, riots broke out (I’m assuming). Media outlets around the world reported one of the most devastating news stories that society has ever been informed – the departure of beloved Zayn Malik from One Direction.
One Direction fans everywhere, which may or may not include yours truly, were shocked upon news of Zayn Malik’s split from the group. Since the white-and-gold-or-black-and-blue-dress debate that shook the internet last month, this news story impacted the web with just as much force, with millions of “WHY ZAYN WHY” tweets being sent into cyberspace, photo collages of the 22 year old heart throb being Instagrammed, and many more Facebook statuses being posted by the cynical anti-boy band community. With all the grief aside though, perhaps this departure shouldn’t come as such a shock – perhaps this was actually a long time coming.
Not too long ago, footage surfaced of the singer smoking a joint while on tour in Europe, along with fellow Directioner Louis Tomlinson. Just this past week, rumors spread like wildfire (as they normally do) of Zayn cheating on his fiancee, after photos of him with another female made their rounds around the internet. This prompted Mailk to leave the tour that One Direction was in the middle of to perform extensive damage control with both his public image and his private life. Almost immediately after these rumors surfaced, Zayn announced his departure from the beloved boy band. From all of this, it is not difficult to see that this last breach into his personal life was the final straw that pushed him off the edge.
Since the band’s inception in 2010, One Direction’s career has been running nonstop, cranking out albums every year, following up each album with international tours. To date, the group has a net worth of over $100 million, having sold almost 15 million records worldwide, and selling out arenas internationally – to say that the group is “successful” would be an understatement. With all of this success, how can one simply walk away from it all? But all of this success, just like everything else, comes at a price.
Having been lumped together as a group as teenagers, everything that was associated with One Direction was labeled just so – One Direction this and One Direction that. The members of the group are never individualized, and are hardly seen as separate beings – they were always dubbed “One Direction” collectively, and never just Harry or just Zayn, etc. – with the exception of scandals that seem to work their way into the public eye. Because they have always been seen as one entity from the time they were sixteen and seventeen – the age at which most people are just starting to find themselves – the five of them never got the chance to discover their own identities as individuals. Being thrown back and forth from recording studio to stage for more than four years straight, they were never given the time to discover the person within themselves. Instead, their so-called “identities” were thrust upon them, and they were told to uphold a certain squeaky clean image while being treated like machines in the industry. Being pressured by money monger management to reach certain numbers in sales by any means necessary probably didn’t help their sanity, either. And yet people wonder why the Biebers or the Lohans of show business act out of hand.
Maybe Zayn Malik had enough of the public scrutiny. Maybe he needs to find himself and who he is as a 22 year old man. Maybe he’s just exhausted. In any case, I have nothing but respect for Zayn to be walking away from the fame and success in exchange for his own happiness and sanity. It may have taken him five years to realize that he’s unhappy, but now he knows what he wants, and he knows what he has to do to get there. Zayn has the tools necessary to achieve success and happiness – this time, he’s going to be doing it on his own terms.