When I was approached by my loves at Cosmo to write a reaction piece on Zayn Malik leaving One Direction, I immediately said yes. I wanted to get my feelings out on paper because that's what I do. But as I wiped my eyes and continued scrolling through my timeline on Twitter, I began thinking, Who the hell am I to write MY reaction about Zayn leaving the band? This isn't about me; this is about millions of girls whose lives have just been turned upside down.
Most of you reading this have already started to roll your eyes and laugh at how dramatic this sounds and that's fine. You simply don't get it. You see One Direction as a "manufactured boy band," and you make jokes about them and their fans. You just don't get it.
You don't see behind the "cheesy" songs and that's fine, this article isn't for you. This is for the girls, and boys too, who found out that one of five of their favorite people in the entire world has quit their favorite band. That may seem silly to you but these fans are the most dedicated, most loyal group of people you will ever encounter, and if they are feeling devastated, let them.
This article is for the Zayn girls who dream of marrying him and those who simply just want to be his friend. This is for the fans that would do anything to meet him or just tell him how much he means to them. To even be in the same room as him would make their entire lives.
Zayn Malik is responsible for countless smiles, countless laughs; he's saved endless fans' lives.
This is for the girls who sit in their rooms and tweet Zayn their problems, their wishes, their dreams. They care about him and his happiness even more than their own. These girls may not be able to afford concert tickets or meet-and-greets, but being his fan means more to them than that. Zayn Malik is responsible for countless smiles, countless laughs; he's saved endless fans' lives.
I'm writing this while scrolling through and seeing thousands of heartbroken teens, some threatening to harm themselves and lashing out at Zayn and his family and fiancé. I can feel their pain through their words and it's heartbreaking.
I think we should all try and remember why we love Zayn and the boys, and why Zayn must have felt like he needed to leave the band. Let's go back to the X Factor days and let's laugh over Simon Cowell looking for Zayn and comforting him over his inability to dance (and remember that Zayn uploaded a video of himself dancing on webcam and it made us all look like terrible dancers). Let's think about the way the boys laughed every time he said, "Vas Happeninnn," and the time when Louis pranked him and he wasn't amused one bit.
Remember when we all kept asking, "Where's Zayn?" Remember the first time we saw him with a cigarette and acted like his mother? We watched him come out of his shell over the last few years and become confident with himself. We listened as his voice developed and developed and just kept getting better until we couldn't take it anymore. Remember the way we all listened for his high notes in every single song on a new album? Think about the way we all dreamed we were Perrie Edwards when they started dating and then got engaged. Think about the way he looks at her and when we made edits and jokes about his promotion of Little Mix.
We watched him come out of his shell over the last few years and become confident with himself.
Remember his blonde streak? Remember when he dyed it back and we missed it, and recently when he shaved the sides of his head and we all died? Do you remember how hard you sobbed when he bought his mum a house in This Is Us?
We have to remember that this is our Zayn and that whatever led him to make this decision must feel right to him and it's our jobs as his fans to respect that and support him through this life-changing decision. If he felt like he could continue in the band and go on tour after tour, he would.
Guys, we know him and we know he would never purposely let anyone down. He did this for himself and his family, so please try to keep that in mind when you're tweeting your anger at him. He was there for us when we needed it. Let's be there for him when he needs us.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.