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What Is a Normal 22 Year Old, Zayn?

31/03/2015 14:43 BST | Updated 31/05/2015 10:59 BST

It's near a week since that fateful day. Zayn Malik leaves One Direction to be "a normal 22-year-old". To the millions of devoted fans, this was literal death. They'd wake up in the morning, in their 1D pjs, turn on their 1D lamp, glance at their 1D clock (Zayn is the minute hand) and be reminded that time is irreversible. They fall out of bed onto their 1D rug, symbolically presenting how life has come crashing down around them, and caress Zayn's sweet, carpeted face until day turns to night. Due to the sheer number of those affected by Zayn's decision (probably not quite in the way just described, that was mere conjecture), I decided to delve deeper into his motives to leave the most overrated boy-band of all time and investigate the life of this "normal 22 year old" he so desired to be. As a mere 20-year-old, I conducted MASS SURVEY (Facebooked a few of my friends) to see what normalcy in a 22-year-old really is.

A normal day, something that Zayn craves. A life free from paparazzi, a space where he can cheat on his girlfriend to his heart's content. I asked the four 22-year-olds I know what a normal day holds for them and whether they regularly turn to infidelity. Meg, a final year History student, agrees that she also often lives to extremes, but not in that way: "My days vary extensively from one to the next. I can spend one day writing an essay and the next staring into the abyss. I really do like to mix things up. One day I'll set my alarm for 8am, the next: 8.15am." Similarly, for Rory, a final year Middle Eastern Studies & Classics student, it's all go on a day-to-day basis: "I typically eat cheese, feel guilty about the university work I am not doing or sit in the library doing quizzes on BuzzFeed. Or on special days I read The Guardian." Ah, perhaps this is what Zayn hopes for? The abyss of cheese and guilt.

Not all these normal 22-year-olds live to such excess however, there is also a large amount of restraint involved in their adequate lives. Zayn, take note. OJ, a professional dancer, after finishing a day of classes and sating his wandering mind watching cheetahs on YouTube, faces hardship. Especially on a Tuesday: "I may spend some time with my better half. Not on a Tuesday. She works at the pub on a Tuesday. I don't see her when she works at the pub." Amy, a Politics & International Relations graduate from Australia, talks of working at such a pub: "On a normal day, I work at at least one of my customer service jobs and try not to tell patrons what I really think of them. Bitching to fellow colleagues helps."

When questioned over what the worst thing was about being normal, there was general consensus amongst these below-to-above-average 22-year-olds that it's frustrating to not get over a million likes/favourites/retweets on every social media post. No-one really cares about you, or your superficial life, or your cat selfies, it seems. Zayn was, of course, the least followed member of 1D on instagram and Twitter, so he must have also felt this pain. But with buckets of money to soothe it with, the normal grass, of 2 favourites on a good day, surely isn't greener? Rory articulated this sense of worthless destitution well: "Without fame and money I'm constantly forced to convince everyone how great I am."

Where is this normal green grass that Zayn so desperately wants to graze then? OJ explains: "The best thing about being normal is no one expects anymore of you than to pay your taxes and not piss in the street." I'm sure this fact will disappoint Zayn, with the cameras aside he was planning on doing what he wanted with his body. Just like Amy does: "the best thing about being normal is that I can look as ugly as I want." Whilst Meg's pro to normality seemed to confuse her very normal life with that of Taylor Swift's: "The best thing about being normal is being able to spend loads of time with my cat without anyone judging me." No, no, Meg, that's where you're wrong, you need to be a billionaire down-to-earth country-pop superstar to achieve that. We're all judging you.

So Zayn, we get it, we can't all be Taylor Swift, we can't all feel 22 and sing so jovially about it. There are a number of pressures in your abnormal life: your hairstyles are scrutinised, your voice is strained, your unfathomable beauty is hard to maintain. But I hate to break it to you, a life outside of this - a "normal" life - does not exist. Meg regularly eats a peanut butter and cheese sandwich, Rory tried to steal a dog when drunk, Oliver wears tights every day, Amy once ate canned soup for 3 months. Sure, "not famous" does exist, but as Meg so profoundly says: "Just remember that being "normal" comes with many strains too, including choosing whether Sainsburys basics toilet roll is worth it for the considerable pain it causes..."

In the face of such pain therefore, both toilet-related and not, my advice to you Zayn, is...

Oh.

I see.

Right.

Never mind.

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Image: The Independent

No abyss of cheese and guilt for you.