Allow me to set the scene: The year is 2011. You’re likely a 12- to 18-year-old girl, and out of the blue, a cheesy bop called “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” by this new band, One Direction, comes out. Sure, at first you might hate it. Avoid it, even! But once you give in, you listen to it again and again and again and think, Why don’t I watch the video? As it turns out, there’s not one but FIVE (5!) equally hot boys in this band and poof! You’re hooked.
Sound familiar? Well, this is exactly what happened to millions (billions? trillions?) of girls across the planet—myself included. When One Direction came into my life, I was 16 and just finishing up an emo girl phase. So naturally, I gravitated toward Zayn Malik, the devastatingly hot, brooding bad boy of the group. By contrast, I also loved Harry Styles and how perfect he seemed. But now, many merch dollars, concert tickets, and J-14 magazines later, I have realized that Zayn and Harry weren’t the ones I should have been giving my heart to—it was Niall all along!
Before you drag me, I know I’m trash for coming to this realization so late, okay? But listen, Niall deserves all the love in the world, even if he wasn’t featured as much as his bandmates. In 1D’s first album, Up All Night, Niall got the short end of the stick ALL THE DAMN TIME. He hardly had any solos. Like...we would be lucky if Niall got a single line of lyrics. He rarely got the opportunity to shine, but boy, when he did...it was pure magic. (See: “More Than This,” “I Would,” “You & I,” “Perfect,” please stop me, I could go on and on.)
Flash-forward to now, the year of our Lord 2020. Niall has his own successful solo career, two number one debut album, and so many songs that melt the hearts of millions. Have you listened to “This Town”? It’s wedding-worthy. (Niall, it’s not to late to propose to me, just saying!!!) Also, “Slow Hands”? “You and Me”? “Too Much to Ask”??? F*ck me UP! Now that I think of it, @Niall, we really need a new album with all your B-sides. But anyway, moving riiight along.
Being a Niall girl was where it was at back then, and I ignored it the whole time. I might not know exactly what supply and demand is, but what I do know is that the market was TOO DAMN SATURATED to be a Harry or Zayn girl. It felt like everyone and their momma was a Harry or Zayn girl. Remember when the boys did their occasional Follow sprees on Twitter? Trying to get a Harry or Zayn Follow only resulted in despair. As someone who was in the trenches desperately trying, trust me on this one. But with Niall, you were bound to get lucky at least once. Most every One Direction fan knew a Niall girl who Niall followed, and that settles that. ¯\_(?)_/¯
The main reason I have grown to appreciate Niall so much, though, is because he is unproblematic. All he ever cared about was sleeping, obsessing over/eating Nandos’ peri-peri chicken, and making sure we knew 1D fans were the best fans in the world. Niall is a simple man. He’s a perfect internet boyfriend. He didn’t leave the band first like Zayn or have babies like Liam or Louis (not that I don’t love babies, but it lowers their emotional availability), or date Taylor freakin’ Swift like Harry. Hell, Niall even kept cool when members of the band made up rumors about his sex life! Niall never did anything to put his fans in emotional distress, and for that, I truly do thank him.
In short: Forgive me, father, for I have sinned...in not making Niall my first choice when I was a teenage 1D stan. As a 23-year-old grown woman, I have matured and come to understand the error of my ways. Now that I have repented for my sins (ignoring Niall for Harry and Zayn), please grant me with the opportunity to (a) see Niall live in concert for his second album tour, (b) actually be blessed enough to meet him in person, and/or (c) have him ask for my willing hand in marriage. Any of these three options will suffice, tyvm. Love you, Niall!
This story originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.