By Sophia Yakumithis

The period of time between sixth and ninth grade was arguably the last time I felt something. And that’s because of One Direction. 

The boy band, that is. I was a full blown “directioner.” I had the posters. I had the T-shirts. I read, and wrote, Wattpad fanfiction. If I looked you in the eyes and told you that One Direction taught me more about my sexuality than personal experiences and self-reflection have, that would be a gross understatement. 

As a human being who now tends to her email more than she tends to her own wellbeing, I believe that the One Direction fandom was, at its core, the healthiest divergence from all the prickly aspects of being a tween. The fact that sexually-frustrated prepubescents across the globe gave a rallying cry for five boys (who probably didn’t even shave) brings me joy beyond words in a world of student debt and excess spending on coffee.

There are some key things you need to know for context, the first being the boys’ names: Louis, Harry, Liam, Niall and Zayn. Zayn left the band in 2015, though, which is, not coincidentally, when I left the fandom. 

Second, they’re all British, except for Niall, who is Irish. This detail is actually critical because 12-year-old Americans go bonkers over accents. You can not dispute this fact no matter how hard you try.

Another important detail you must understand is that the boys’ personalities determine which one is your soulmate, a.k.a. the one you might actually have a shot with and your acceptance of that litmus test determines how true you are to the fandom. 

For example, if a directioner prefers Harry over Niall because they think Harry is cuter, although that person would objectively have better taste, they are not a real fan. That essentially means that if Niall was their “only option,” they’d be disappointed. A real directioner, though, would take what they can get because they love all of the boys individually for who they are. In the same vein, they would recognize, though, that you just can’t be compatible with all five.

Louis was my soulmate because our compatibility is inherent. We both get energy from being in groups and always know how to make people laugh. My loyal Tumblr followers shipped “Louphia” so hard that they went as far as photoshopping my face onto his pictures of Louis and his girlfriend. 

By the way, I’m not talking East India Company-style shipping; “shipping” is when you support a relationship with every fiber of your being to the point it hurts and you can’t sleep and you cry.

Eventually losing interest in the fandom was a sad realization because it was such an important part of my middle school life. My Tumblr account starting rotting like an old graveyard, so I changed its aesthetic to cigarette-poetry girl.

While I could go on for days, I’ll wrap this up on a bit of a sad note: the first One Direction concert I went to, at age 14, cost $60 and I sat in the very top row of an arena. The second concert, which I was invited to go to for old times’ sake by a friend, happened after Zayn left the band. That one cost $40 for third row stadium seats. So that should give you an idea as to where we stand now.