Looking Back on 6 Incredible Years with One Direction

On July 23rd of 2010, after being cut as individuals from the X Factor, the judges decided to put Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, and Zayn Malik together officially as One Direction and the world of music and pop culture was changed.

On July 23rd of 2016, fans are celebrating 6 official years of One Direction and this specific anniversary is bittersweet.  After years of touring and multiple albums, singles, and music videos -Liam, Niall, Louis, and Harry are taking some time off and while it is well earned and past deserved, it’s very different for their loyal fans.

There are no concerts to buy tickets for and have countdowns until, there are no merch tables to anticipate buying just about everything from. There are no fan projects that you work on for weeks before your show, no meet ups with your online friends at the one place in this world that makes you the happiest.  There are no new singles on the radio, no music videos to be expected, and there are no internet viewing parties of concerts on Twitter for fans who couldn’t make it in person.

While those are the parts of this hiatus that are a bit bitter, the ones that are sweet come from the knowledge that the boys are finally getting to enjoy being young, not setting alarms, being responsible for no one but themselves (because let’s face it, sometimes that is a good feeling) and enjoying some things they didn’t have a chance to experience while spending the majority of the last six years working.

Niall, Liam, Harry, and Louis have always been respected by their fans but this hiatus has really proven just how much the lads as individuals, and a group, have impacted the lives of not just fans, but people all across the world, and the place they’ve carved out in the hearts of millions holds a really special weight right now.

To One Direction fans; Harry, Louis, Liam, and Niall aren’t just faces that grace the pages of magazines and voices that play through their stereos. They’re not just larger than life figures that perform on stages without ever actually connecting with their fans. The boys aren’t out of touch celebrities that do the bare minimum and somehow manage to keep their fans engaged. In fact, the boys encompass the exact opposite.

I want to write you a song
One to make your heart remember me
So any time I’m gone
You can listen to my voice and sing along

There’s a quote in the One Direction fanbase – ‘From Stairwells to Stadiums’ and the truth of the matter is, for every step of growth that the boys took on their journey to sold out tour dates and record breaking sales, they grew in love and compassion and strength too, and those things are just as important, if not more so.

Humble beginnings make the most solid foundations, and if you look back on the auditions of each boy during the season they became One Direction, you see stars in their eyes, hope in their hearts, and a sense of responsibility in their postures, responsibility to themselves and their friends and families.  Responsibility not just to chase their dreams, but to help the people they love in the process.

Over the last six years, the boys of One Direction have also carried out a responsibility to their fans, and they’ve taken that responsibility more seriously than anything else they’ve done.

This is not the end
This is not the end
We can make it you know it you know
You and me got a whole lotta History
We could be the greatest team
That the world has ever seen

Their six year anniversary holds a different emotion than the ones before it.  The boys aren’t anticipating a tour stop tonight where fans will hold signs thanking them for six years, or being together in tour buses traveling from place to place.  In fact, the lads are all working on their own projects right now and none of them are even in the same city.  It’s a true testament of the transition that they, alongside their fans, are currently experiencing.

It’s the feeling you get when you’re approaching the best part of an incredible book, a novel that’s held your attention and kept you wanting more. It’s the way you flick the same pages between your fingers as you read a bit slower, taking in the words so you can hold them a bit longer. It’s the way you feel as the last words appear in front of your eyes and you realize that the chapter has ended but it’s not the end of the book, not the end of the series, it’s just the end of a chapter.

But then, the chapter ends and the beauty of the moment is still with you, it’s not gone, and you’ve got something beautiful and worth anticipating coming up.

That’s what Liam, Niall, Louis, and Harry are currently doing – they’re turning the page, embarking upon a new chapter and while they’re excited about what’s on the horizon, it doesn’t mean they love where they’ve been any less, they don’t lose appreciation or value or respect for what was part of their life in one chapter, they’re adding to their story, and it’s beautiful.

I’m flicking through the pages.
I’ve written in my memory.
I feel like I’m dreaming.
Oh, so I know, I know, I know, I know that I’m never leaving.
No, I won’t go.
Don’t forget where you belong. Home.

For fans, celebrating six years of One Direction while the boys are on a hiatus has been hard.  Emotions have been running at an all-time high, some fans scared that this is just time bought until they admit they won’t return, some fans just wishing there were concerts to count down to or new singles on the way, but most fans are taking their anniversary for what it is and appreciating every single part of this journey we’ve all been on together.  From Up All Night to Made In The AM and “What Makes You Beautiful” to “History” – we’ve got so much happiness to celebrate, so much life and love and home.

After One Direction performed History on the X-Factor Finale they had a message for fans that talked about the closing of one chapter and embarking upon a new one.

The boys have called fans their teammates, and especially after 2015, the sentiment is more real than ever.  For every step taken by the boys, a step was taken by their fans – one done out of love, respect, fierce protection, and admiration for a group of  young men who changed the idea of what it means to be a superstar.

Four young men who have the world at their feet and not for one second have they taken it for granted, or used it for selfish gain.  They’ve never devalued anyone on their rise to the top, never taken away someone’s happiness to fuel their own.  They’ve had fame and fortune thrust upon them and never found themselves lost in it. They’ve received, repeatedly, negativity that they did nothing to deserve and instead of falling victim to it or fighting back, they used that as motivation to be better, more kind, and more giving.

I wish that I could take you to the stars
I’d never let you fall and break your heart
And if you wanna cry or fall apart
I’ll be there to hold you

They’ve impacted a number of charities as a band and as individuals, they’ve been credited for saving the lives and spirits of their fans, and they’ve used their voices and platforms to encourage others to be happy, chase the things that make them happy to be alive, and to do good to others.  They’re inspirational, they’re charitable, and they’re absolutely full of love and light.

Now, as they use that love and light towards different projects, they remain anchored together by the fact that nothing in the world makes them as happy as touring together, writing together, and chasing their dreams with their best mates.

Perhaps, the most important thing fans can give Louis, Harry, Liam, and Niall now is support, respect, and congratulations on their solo ventures as they explore this time apart. They’re learning new things about themselves, their passions, and the art of music and acting – when they come back together, they’ll have new life stories to bring to their music, both together and separately, and it’ll only cement for themselves and their fans that One Direction isn’t a band with a small run who fades into the background. They’ve got staying power and it’s something fans will never tire of.

In six years we saw the lads transform from teenage boys to young men and they’ve done an incredible job at growing up humble, loving, and compassionate.  We only expect the next six years to show the same.  We may not be celebrating One Direction’s six-year anniversary with a band that’s in the studio and on the road, but we’ve still got wonderful things from each of them to look forward to and a whole lotta history to write.

I’m sorry if I say I need you
But I don’t care, I’m not scared of love
When I’m not with you I’m weaker
Is that so wrong, is it so wrong that
You make me strong

Thanks for the first chapter lads, we can’t wait for all the exciting ones in the future.

Written by Ashley

Writer, coffee drinker, mother.