Zayn Malik became a household name and one of the planet’s most high-profile stars as a member of One Direction. It is easy to think that Malik was handed fame and riches on a plate but, for Zayn, it was a very difficult and painful journey. Last week the media was speculating that Malik’s book, released yesterday, would blow the lid off of One Direction. In a way it did, but not in the way many expected.
In his new autobiography, Zayn, Malik reveals his struggles with anxiety, eating disorders, and partying on tour. With the gift of hindsight it is clear for all to see that, as a member of One Direction, Malik was always a square peg in a round hole. There can barely be a person in the world who doesn’t know that Malik was picked to join Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, and Liam Payne to form One Direction on the 2010 season of X-Factor. After placing third on the show, Malik and his bandmates went on to dominate the world of pop for half a decade.
Malik was just 17-years-old when he joined One Direction and it is now easy to see just how much fame has cost Zayn. Way back in 2010 we saw pictures of a forlorn Malik, sitting alone backstage, during the live X-Factor shows. At the time, the VT revealed that Zayn was struggling and unsure if he wanted to continue. Of course, most thought that Malik’s actions were simply the shows way of encouraging the “sympathy vote” for One Direction.
Every year we see contestant sob stories designed to tug at our heart-strings and to encourage us to pick up the phone and pay to vote. It was easy to assume that Malik was cynically used as a tool to get people to vote. More than anything Zayn’s book tells us that his struggles were very real as the pressures of fame drove him into anxiety and struggles with eating disorders.
When I look back, I can see how ill I was: Zayn Malik https://t.co/c6iop5sBN4— Amanullah De Sondy (@desondy) November 2, 2016
Let’s remember that Zayn and his One Direction bandmates completed four massive tours and released five albums in a little under five years. Remember too, that at just 17-years-old, Malik was not even the youngest band member. According to the Evening Standard, Malik reveals just how unprepared he was for what happened to him.
“I thought going on X-Factor meant you won a million pounds and got a contract at the end of it. And I was like, ‘S**t. All my problems are solved. I win a million pounds and that’s it. Simple.'”
“If I could go back I probably wouldn’t have signed. I would’ve waited a couple more extra years. If I could go back, I’d have a few more years of anonymity.”
Entertainment Tonight reveals that Zayn struggled because he felt out of step musically with the rest of the band. It was Zayn’s loyalty to the fans and to his bandmates that kept him going.
“I stuck it out because the support and all the positive responses we were getting from our fans around the world were incredible, and I respected that it was working for my band mates. To be honest, though, it was a struggle for me.”
“It felt a bit like being forced into a mould I would never fit. I wanted to be in the studio singing lyrics that resonated with me, not just repeating someone else’s lines.”
The BBC reveals that around November 2014, Malik had become ill, largely as a result of an eating disorder. Interestingly it was at this time that I predicted, here in the Inquisitr, that Zayn might be about to quit One Direction. Speaking about that time in his life Zayn revealed that he often went days without eating.
“I was suffering from an eating disorder. It wasn’t as though I had any concerns about my weight or anything like that. I’d just go for days – sometimes two or three days straight – without eating anything at all.”
“It got quite serious, although at the time I didn’t recognise it for what it was.”
In the end, it seems that it was Zayn’s struggles with anxiety that prompted him to leave One Direction. Zayn says it got to the point that he felt like he was “faking it.” Malik was “spiraling into a deeply unhappy and unhealthy place” and felt the only thing he could do to save himself, was to leave One Direction.
Given Zayn’s reservations and increasing unhappiness, it is a wonder that Malik coped with the pressure for as long as he did. Zayn’s experiences should be a lesson for us all. Malik shows us that riches and fame don’t make you happy if you are not comfortable in your own skin. Zayn also shows that sticking at something out of loyalty to others isn’t always the best course of action.
Happily, Malik seems to be coming out of the other side of his troubles. Perhaps Zayn’s experience should also teach us that change should be embraced rather than feared. Zayn Malik shows us that mental health issues can affect anyone, fame and riches are no protection.
Above all, Zayn Malik should provide inspiration to his millions of fans. Zayn has shown that by tackling mental health issues it is possible to move on and be happy.
[Featured Image by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP Images]