Why Zayn Malik’s Departure Is Bigger Than You Think It Is

Why Zayn Malik’s Departure Is Bigger Than You Think It Is 

It’s no secret that I love One Direction. If you know me personally, through the internet, or just after reading this, you’ll know my love extends far beyond what the world is capable of holding.

I remember watching the X Factor and fawning over how funny and adorable they all were. I remember watching them come in third from a completely different time zone. Or that one time I called an international phone number when they were having a twit-cam.

So when the news of Zayn Malik’s departure broke, it was a kick to the gut. The headlines were over-the-top, the articles mocking, and the radio was even more annoying. I had seen it coming, like most fans. The tired body language, the mumbling through interviews, and the many times he left the tour at the drop of a hat. Okay, not that many, but enough where it was beginning to get noticeable and disconcerting. After the news broke, young fans everywhere did as well. Although the now foursome are touring to their hearts content, while also making a staggering $102 million in the first leg, there’s the occasional bust-up in the media and the overall breaking news of a split. It’s yet to be announced, but only time will tell.

I only know so much because of my long years dedicating time on the internet to the band, and now as I grow older, I can feel myself drifting away. It’s a tough break—almost like a break-up. Although I am on my way to see 1D this month on their rumored last tour, the nostalgia hit me like a train when Zayn left.

Of course we all have that one thing in our life that separates us from others, or in some cases, brings us closer to each other. I was lucky enough to have found somewhere amongst the millions of fans, tucked into the corner with my CDs and posters. I even share a bond over them with my niece, who is attending the concert with me.

After a long drawn-out talk with myself, I said that this would be it. After this tour date, I would wipe my hands clean and move on. I have a whole new life ahead of me this fall, and there’s only so much I can take with me.

Maybe it was finally time to pack away those One Direction posters.

So, as the days went by, I thought to myself, “Maybe some readers at The Young Folks feel the same way.” Maybe it’s not even One Direction that had you sighing at the TV, staying up late to watch interviews, or dancing around in your room while song after song blared through your CD player. It could be any other band in the world that had you feeling so content, but in my life, this was the band that helped shape me.

There’s a reason why we latch onto bands and singers even when they aren’t categorically boy bands or even that well known. Everyone relates to music in a way that’s hard to describe, especially about how the lyrics make you feel better about the world, and about yourself. So, when the inevitable break up happens, or one goes off the deep end, it’s tough. Zayn leaving One Direction is part of a bigger picture in the long run—a lesson in moving on, a reason for staying comfortable, a practice in staying true to yourself.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “You are too old to be listening to that kind of music,” or, “I really didn’t think you listened to pop music.” I’m sure you’ve heard it yourself, if you’re in my boat. Do you sit and smile politely? Do you argue back about stereotypes and being ignorant?

Do you think maybe you should listen to these people? (Probably not.)

I can’t tell you what to do in that situation. What is there to do or say when confronted with people who think that the bond you share with a music group, with other fans, is something they can dictate from the outside?

If only the internet was as prevalent in the early 2000s.

It’s simple. Anyone can argue about whether or not the music another person likes is good, or whether or not their age, gender, or sexuality comes into play (hint: it doesn’t), but at the last minute of the last hour, it’s that one song you’re playing. It’s that band that has made you happy. It’s your decision to move on, or not to. Whether or not you think you’re too old to fly from the nest of the comfortable, or stick one foot out and keep one in, there is not a step by step to removing yourself or staying.

Think of it like this: You are a square. Your mind is built up of four corners. Every time you blink, your corners switch. They switch because every time you blink, something is different. Whether it’s your favorite food, song, insult, class. It rotates because of change. The world of music and boybands is always changing, but so is the world as a whole, and so are you. Maybe in a different time, when your corners are full, and the change has overlapped again and again, Zayn will have come back to One Direction.

I’m joking. Unfortunately.

It’s been over three months since Malik’s departure, and while it’s gotten easier for many, it’s become a farewell for many more.

“It’s really time to move on,” they said.

“I thought you didn’t like them anymore,” they said.

I smile, I shrug.

“It’s hard to explain,” we say.


You can catch One Direction on their On The Road Again tour, starting in San Diego on July 9th, 2015.

Brooke Pawling Stennett is a college student pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism and Creative Non-Fiction in the old Windy City. She tends to lean toward the obsessive side of the tracks when it comes to books and music. She's an avid concert attendee (or at least she tries to!) and rambler. She'd like to travel the world and write about it, but in the only ways she knows how: sarcastically and full of internet jargon. Her opinions are her best ones, especially if they involve boy-bands and Netflix. . .even though she doesn't even have her own account. You can tweet her at @br_stennett and tell her how ridiculous (and totally great!) her opinions are.
  • Glyn Ruck

    Pertinent article. Well thought out & written.