First, let me admit something, I am old and I didn't know who Zayn Malik was before he left One Direction( sorry Zayn). However, now that I know who he is I will admit that I am a bit smitten. No, this is not a sad cougar moment, this is a person who adamantly and whole heartedly believes that sometimes the best direction for our life is to stop what isn't working, let it go, grieve it and move on to our next happy. Now I know there are ten-zillion Directionators who would totally absolutely disagree with me, but the truth is that I think he is a Next Happy role model and much more so now than he was before when he was going in a direction that wasn't right for him.
In an interview in People Magazine Zayn is quoted as saying, "It is crazy and wild and a bit mad.... "(B)but at the same time I've never felt more in control in my life. And I feel like I'm doing what's right – right by myself and right by the boys, so I feel good."
In my work as therapist I often hear people sharing their fantasies of what life would be like if they achieved their big dream and rarely do I hear people taking about the dark-side of the dream, no...life is all rainbows, champagne, and unicorns. Only, no matter the success or achievement, life never works out as we imagine it. And sometimes once we get what we most wanted we realize that we were really after something else. It sounds to me, from the extremely little I know, that this young man has made a very difficult choice, a choice that wasn't easy and yet a choice that was right for him. I applaud Zayn's courage to be true to himself and leave a path that isn't for him, it couldn't have been an easy choice.
I also want to point out that very often we believe there is only one way to be happy, and that it is to get what we wanted most. I am guessing that at some point, the success of One Direction is likely what he wanted---or maybe not. But let's get back to you and me for a moment, I know that I believed the only way I could only be happy is if I had a child. Guess what? I was wrong. There were other directions for me, unexpected directions, that have brought me happiness I could have never anticipated;I feel sure the same is true for Zayn.
Zayn explains, "I did try to do something that I wasn't happy doing for a while, for the sake of other people's happiness". Ultimately he couldn't betray himself, "I feel like I've let the fans down but I can't do this anymore." Zayn goes on to say, "It's not that I've turned my back on them or anything, it's just that I just can't do that anymore because it's not the real me." Sometimes when we give up on something it may not make sense to others, people may have a whole lot of feelings and opinions about us doing what is right for us---but even if that a million screaming and crying and heartbroken girls, at the end of the day we have to do what is right by us and that may mean stopping what looks like a huge success and/or stopping short of succeeding.
And even when we make the right choice, to stop what isn't working for us, there is likely grief. To call the time of death on a dream, to choose a new direction, is a death and one that has to be mourned and given time to heal. I hope that Zayn has people in his life who understand how hard this is, how ambivalent he may feel. Very often people around us won't allow us to feel sad when we have made the choice, but the truth is, even thought we have, there is grief about the loss. Should Zayn come to me for advice, I would advise him to give himself time to heal this loss before he jumps into some rebound activity. I am sure his business people might be giving him just the opposite advice, but trust me Zayn, it is much better to heal and not quickly jump into something just to push the grief away.
What "One Direction" have you stopped pursuing? Have you received backlash for your choice? Please share, who knows, maybe Zayn will read this and you will be helping him.