Saying that I love One Direction used to bring me a lot of shame and embarrassment but now that I’m an adult, I share it proudly. I no longer care if someone scoffs at me for having an interest in something so ‘immature’ or that only ‘twelve year old girls like’. Listen to some of One Direction’s recent lyrics and tell me that it’s appropriate for pre-teens… I think not.
Over the years, I’ve spent WAY too much money on this band but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. I’ve been much less active in the 1D fandom for the last two years because I’m been busy with ‘adult life’ (you can’t exactly be on Tumblr for ten hours a day when you’re a working twenty-something) but that hasn’t changed my love for the boys. When I found out they were taking a hiatus, I was somewhat heartbroken but I support the decision completely. Their last album, Made in the A.M., is more than enough to tie me over.
As the members of One Direction are around the same age of me (well, Louis is), it’s been watching them grow up in the public eye while I grew up at the same time. Becoming an adult is a bizarre transition, one that I’m sure that I’ll never be comfortable with, but it was humbling to watch a group of talented boys that I adore do it in the limelight, especially when they made mistakes. I was never the type of fan to feel betrayed when one of the guys was caught ‘smoking’ or something else of that sort, it just made them seem more human to me.
I was shocked, though, how I felt when Zayn left the band. One Direction wasn’t on my radar that much as I was right in the thick of doing a show while working full-time but when I found out, it took a lot out of me. I know that sounds insane and ridiculous but One Direction had become a bit of an escape for me in my post-secondary years and seeing my constant become broken was really startling. It reminded me that everything does have to come to end, no matter how great it was. Now, I totally respect and understand Zayn’s decision, sometimes things just get to be too much and you have to step away from the things that don’t make you happy.
To give you a better idea of how obsessed I was at my worst, I’ll paint you a bit of a picture. In my first year of college, I was going through a pretty rough time. All of a sudden, I was dealing with a lot of little health problems that were preventing me from being successful at school because I was under so much stress. That Christmas, I found One Direction for the first time. This was after they’d lost X-factor and ‘What Makes you beautiful’ was starting to rise in the charts. I stumbled upon the video and from there, I went down the rabbit hole. I’d only ever been this obsessed with one band before, The Jonas Brothers but that had been years before. I was shocked by how quickly I fell for Louis, Zayn, Niall, Harry and especially, Liam.
After purchasing a hardcopy of their first album, I really started getting into it. I tried to find every tidbit of information I could hunt down about this new boy band and found that I wasn’t alone in the pursuit. I finally stumbled upon some Tumblr blogs dedicated to them and while I had been a dabbler before, I quickly became addicted to my Tumblr dash, waiting for new updates every time I refreshed. A couple weeks into that process, I was incredibly sleep deprived during a particular stalking session when I found a link to a ‘One direction fanfic’. Just in case, you’re not familiar, fan fiction is stories written by fans of a certain media (books, Tv, films, real people?) that take the characters and sometimes situations form these media and compose their own realities for them. For example, Fifty Shades of Grey in its original form was a Twilight fan fiction story featuring Bella and Edward. Now, I wasn’t foreign to the world of fanfiction, I’d read and written my fair share in high school but never had I read anything that featured real people, it almost seemed to be a bit intrusive. But lack of sleep got the better of me and I soon found myself reading the story which turned out to be about two members of the band falling for each other, Louis and Harry (or as the fandom likes to call them, Larry Stylinson).
I quickly became addicted. It was my guilty pleasure. I never ‘shipped’ them in real life but in the stories, they were perfect for each other. I read everything I could get my hands on but as it was at the beginning of the fandom, there was only so many thousands of words you could read about two boyband members falling in love. When there was no story unread, I decided to go out on a limb and write my own. I was incredibly secretive about it and I almost felt shameful for writing stories about two popstars who actually existed. Yet, I just kept posting. I’ve always loved to write but now it just came so easily, I always was able to find inspiration and the words poured from my fingers. Soon, I had a little collection of fan fiction stories and even a small following who urged me to keep updating. It wasn’t until I wrote a story called ‘All work and no play’ that things started getting crazy. My favourite (and rather famous in the fandom) authors started re-blogging my work and I got more and more notes and hits with every chapter that I posted. At one point, I had about six stories on the go, updating with a minimum of 2000 worded chapters every day. It was craziness. The response, even more so.
At that point, it was all fun. I made some great friends who I even skyped with and still keep in contact with to this day. They became my little cheerleading squad and even when I was exhausted, supported me to grit my teeth and get the new chapter up. I soon branched out and started writing stories that featured more than just ‘Larry Stylinson’. I wrote a story that was pretty personal that featured a character struggling with cancer and shockingly, this story really started affecting people. I got long messages from people thanking me for it and suddenly, I felt like maybe I could really do something with my writing. One of the most surreal moments during all this is when I was contacted by a few magazines to do interviews about ‘fanfiction’ and ‘shipping’, my favourite headline of these articles being: ‘Will Cassady Ranford keep it gay?’ I even got asked to potentially do an article for the New York Times but unfortunately it fell through.
Eventually people in my real life started finding out about it. School was getting quite overwhelming at that point and slowly, I had less time for writing. It was hard but it seemed to be the right time to step away from that part of the fandom. As sad as it was, it was the right thing to do. I slowly noticed the traffic of my stories dwindle but that was fine too. I look back on these memories fondly and sometimes even go back through my inbox to read the kind messages people would send me.
Today, I’m entering what I feel in a new chapter of my life. It’s time to close off some of the old stuff so it doesn’t taint the new. I’m putting that blog where my stories are hosted on a password lock so people can still read it but the whole world can’t simply stumble upon it when you google my name. I love the boys and I love what I remember of the fandom. I still find myself reading some fan fiction every so often. I’m just happy that it inspired me to keep writing and to follow my passion, wherever it might lead me.
One Direction will always be a part of my life. I have so many awesome memories, whether it be fangirling with my Tumblr friends when a new album came out, a 1D concert misadventure to Seattle with one of my best friends, dragging a guy friend to the 1D popup store in downtown Vancouver or teaching all my little cousins the choreography to best song ever so we could perform it on New Year’s Eve, it’s been a great portion of my life.
So – there it is. My One Direction Story and how even though I’m 23, I still love 1D.