Zayn Malik: "I want to be a normal 22 year old"
After five years, millions of records sold and successful worldwide tours, Zayn Malik has officially left One Direction after signing off due to "stress" a couple of weeks earlier. A packed schedule and months at a time away from family and friends have surely taken their toll. His departure from the band has devastated millions of devoted "One Directioners" and has been splashed across every media outlet imaginable.
I've just turned twenty three so I'm a little older than Zayn. One thing I'd like to say is this: yes, being a "normal" twentysomething is exciting and fun. The awkward teenage years are over, and adulthood and independence beckons. You start to enjoy nights in with friends as opposed to sticky floors and awkward encounters at clubs, and (for the most part) no longer require ID when buying Pinot Grigio at Sainsbury's.
However, your early twenties are also full of feeling slightly overwhelmed and mildly stressed for a good proportion of the time. You're out of your teens, but don't quite yet feel like an adult. Part of me is unbelievably giddy and excited about finishing my degree and joining "the real world", but part of me is in full-on Italian-grandmother-with-black-lace-veil-mourning. No longer will most of my days be unstructured, and no longer will I get to see my friends every day. I probably won't regularly haunt Nandos anymore.
Of course, Zayn is no normal twenty two year old. With millions in the bank, a huge legion of fans and a successful five year career behind him, let's face it, he's probably not worrying about student loan debts, paying off an overdraft and finding a job. In seeking some normality, he would probably like his private life back and the chance to fly under the radar for a while. May I suggest some sort of disguise at this point, Zayn.
Being a "normal" twentysomething involves a constant level of uncertainty whilst trying to remain optimistic about the future and trying to have fun at the same time. But, maybe that's what Zayn desires. Perhaps he wants to feel the rollercoaster of emotions we all feel most days; uncertainty yes, but also an excitement about the unexpected and the possible surprises waiting around the corner.
Or, perhaps he just wants to fill his evenings with Netflix boxsets (House of Cards is particularly good) and Two for Tuesdays.
Maybe he will go solo, maybe he won't. Or maybe in a few years' time, he'll echo Robbie Williams circa 2010 and re-join One Direction. In the meantime, I'm sure he'll have some well-deserved time off to de-stress and attempt to live a normal life for a bit.