Zayn Malik's journey as a solo artist has, admittedly, been a strange one. He left the world's most popular boy band to release Mind of Mine, an album that he has, inexplicably, done almost no promo for. Well, almost inexplicably.
In June of this year, Zayn cancelled his appearance at Summer Time Ball, consulted Adele about his crippling stage fright, and had so-called "experts" fawning over him to offer their advice. Now, it's September. The Mind of Mine tour promised by Camp Zayn has yet to materialize and Zayn has just cancelled another important performance, this time in Dubai.
I have been working over the last three months to overcome my extreme anxiety around major live solo performances. I feel I am making progress but I have today acknowledged that I do not feel sufficiently confident to move forward with the planned show in Dubai in October.Zayn Malik
Right on the heels of Selena Gomez announcing time off for her own mental health, Zayn has further elaborated on the anxiety struggle that has all but derailed his solo career momentum.
Of course, Adele has famously battled stage fright and performance anxiety, but she has still managed to go through with the tour for her latest album, 25--doing endless promo and appearances.
The most important part of Zayn's journey in this regard is that he is being honest. No fake "dehydration" claims; no vague "health issues" in a press statement. Zayn is stating, in no uncertain terms, that his anxiety is the reason he is finding it difficult to do solo performances and his fans relate to that.
Zayn is brave for opening up about his anxiety in the first place. It's okay to be upset/disappointed but don't be disrespectful— • sana • (@imperialzjm) September 6, 2016
I'm so glad Zayn is putting himself first. Anxiety is extremely hard to deal with, so I genuinely hope he feels better soon #GetWellSoonZayn— Laura (@5sose31d) September 6, 2016
#GetWellSoonZayn people don't realize how bad anxiety can actually get. Zayn helped us with ours, we should help him with his.— mermaid daughter (@MikaleCliffrod) September 6, 2016
Contextualized, Zayn's anxiety is completely justified. He toured as a five piece in One Direction for almost five years and has had, what can only be described as, the most transitional year and a half of his life.
If we're being honest with ourselves, Zayn may never tour Mind of Mine. The mental, physical, and emotional strength it takes to travel the world as a solo act can take a huge toll on you. Of her own mental health struggles surrounding gigging and solo artistry, British singer, Kate Nash said "I would like to think that an artist’s mental health is taken into consideration more now, [...] We’ve had enough people die, quite frankly."
Whether we're talking about Zayn Malik, Camila Cabello, Selena Gomez, or Justin Bieber, it's good to know we've finally made headway in seeing performers as real people with complex and textured lives. It means so much for young fans and the artists themselves that there is now a precedence that enables them to open a dialogue about their anxiety issues and eliminate mental health stigma.
If Zayn's semi public discourse about his anxiety has taught us anything, it's that if you have the means to take care of your mental health first and foremost, please do.