March 25th 2015 and a Facebook statement changed the path of one of the biggest bands in the history of the world, One Direction, and while fans had no idea what would happen next; the one thing that was certain was if Harry, Louis, Zayn, Niall, and Liam had changed your life, they were about to do it again, in a big way.
When Zayn left One Direction’s On The Road Again Tour on March 19th of 2015, fans took to social media with emotional messages of hope, inspiration, and well wishes for the lad who was feeling so stressed he walked away from a tour and his best mates without so much as a warning. It was a confusing week as those devoted to One Direction saw the lads perform as a four piece and seeing the emotion on their faces, even at times looking to Zayn’s spot on stage. Everyone wished him a speedy recovery but an uncertainty loomed in the air.
On March 25th the uncertainty came to an end when One Direction posted a statement on their Facebook page that Zayn Malik had not just left the tour, but One Direction altogether. It was impossible then, and remains impossible now, to explain the feeling that existed in the hearts of millions as they wondered what this meant for the band, what it meant for Zayn, and if the last few years of their lives with the lads had meant something different than they’d though all along. For weeks, some fans waited for the other shoe to drop; would the lads end it all and walk away? Would they keep up a few dates before thinking it was too much and thank fans for changing their lives? Would it all be too much, for everyone, and had the time set on One Direction before it’s time?
Those questions were answered as the days went by and Liam, Niall, Harry, and Louis poured their hearts out on stage, thanked fans for their support, and continued to chase their dreams – just in a new way. March of 2015 was just the beginning of, undoubtedly, the most stressful year in One Direction’s history; but it was also the one that showed the most strength, not just from the fans, but the boys themselves.
Niall, Liam, Harry, and Louis took to the stage with smiles, with passion, with gratitude – they continued a world tour with more heart than fans had seen in years, with a new sense of togetherness, they moved through the beginning leg of OTRA reworking songs, stage presence, and harder than that – state of heart and mind as they learned to navigate their new normal.
While fans have learned now that Zayn’s departure was what was right for him in his heart, and while it was hard, he felt it was his only choice they’ve also learned how much they meant to Harry, Louis, Liam, and Niall.
Fans meant enough for the lads to stick together when no one would have blamed them for giving up. They meant enough for the lads to be put up against their most stressful year to date with the most media ridicule and awful rumors, and stick it out because they loved the faces they saw in the audience each night. Fans meant enough that, even while they’re on a hiatus, they made a promise to come back, and not only that, they thanked fans for their part in this incredible journey together – saying all together – we are a team.
So to our teammates:
Thank you for staying. Thank you for putting on a smile when things were confusing. Thank you for creating an incredible tour with memories we won’t ever forget. Thank you for dropping Drag Me Down with no warning a night before one of your shows, thank you for singing it to the crowd who sang it right alongside you not even 24 hours later. Thank you for reminding us that with your love, nobody can drag us down. Thank you for bravery. Thank you for standing up in the midst of a year that seemed hellbent on breaking you. Thank you for dealing with fans who were confused and hurt and a little hesitant to trust with full hearts again – they loved you all the same.
Thank you for giving us hope, a promise, and a safe place to call home. Thank you for confidence, for compassion, for continuing to love us – and each other – enough to say that this was, and still is, worth it. Thank you for not giving up on us.
Thank you for smiling, laughing, and seeming like more of a band as 2015 moved on than you did at the beginning. Thank you for taking a moment and saying that this is still worth it, that it’s still your dream, that this journey isn’t over. Thank you for the promise that just because one chapter ended doesn’t mean the next one won’t be just as special, maybe even better.
Thanks for making us feel like the most important people on the planet, not just because we are your fans, but because you believe in who we are as people, in our dreams and hopes the same way we believe in yours.
Thank you for who you’ve become as individuals as well as who you’ve become as a band. Thank you for standing up for yourselves as best as you can, for standing up for us no matter what. Thanks for teaching us what it means to be a true friend, to be a cheerleader, to be supportive. Thank you for exploring who you are on your own terms but not letting that lead you far away from one another. Thank you for being human, for making mistakes and being able to admit them. Thank you for showing us that sometimes doing something that makes you happy won’t make sense to everyone; but it’s important to do it anyway.
Thanks for making the last year, a confusing and mad year, make sense every time you told us that we were important, that we should be happy, and that we mattered to you.
Thank you Louis for the bravery, Harry for the love, Niall for the compassion, and Liam for the confidence to be who we are.
It’s been the greatest pleasure of our lives to be fans of yours; and that’s a pleasure we won’t soon forget. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to still be here, to stand beside you, and to look forward to the future with you. It’s been an epic story so far, we can’t wait for the next chapter.
Being your fans has always been about more than just the music, and it always will be. Being your fans has been about loving, supporting, learning, and more importantly, wishing – you helped us all believe in ourselves again and let us know that no love is unimportant, no voice is too quiet, and no dream is too big.
Thank you for loving us just as much as we love you, and thank you for being such a large part of our story, too.
‘This is not the end, this is not the end, we can make it you know it – you know’