Zayn Malik | Photo Credits: Corbis

After five amazing, glorious years, Zayn Malik has left One Direction.

There, there. Are you ready to continue? Good. Malik announced his departure on Wednesday, one week after revealing he wouldn’t be joining fellow group members Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Lois Tomlinson on the rest of their world tour due to stress. Malik, who was only 17 when he joined the boy band on The X Factor, explained that he wants to take time to pursue a normal life.

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“My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band,” Malik wrote on Facebook. “I’d like to apologise to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart. I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight. I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world.”

Malik’s bandmates support his decision and plan to continue on without their friend.”We’re really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future,” the group said in its own statement. “The past five years have been beyond amazing, we’ve gone through so much together, so we will always be friends. The four of us will now continue. We’re looking forward to recording the new album and seeing all the fans on the next stage of the world tour,” they wrote.

For those of you who are too old to appreciate how big of a deal this is, just remember how you felt when Geri left the Spice Girls.

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