Singer-songwriter Niall Horan recently joined the Q with Tom Power podcast, revealing how the pandemic led to his own personal growth and mental health discoveries.
Ever since his membership in One Direction at just 16, Horan has been relentless in pursuing his career. Expanding his repertoire with albums Flicker and Heartbreak Weather, the musician realized that his focus on growing his solo career left him without time to grow personally. “I didn't realize how formative 25 to 30 would be. I feel like there’s a lot of talk about 16 to 20, 20 to 24, ending high school and going to college” the 29-year old said. Those stages in life were full of successes for Horan, but it would take the weight of the pandemic for him to realize that, “a lot happened.” He explained to host Tom Power, “I feel like the only thing the pandemic was good for, for me, was that it allowed me to write this record, first of all, but I remember thinking we're not going anywhere here and I should probably take this as time off. And then I start thinking, 'I haven't had time off in, I can't remember.' Probably since 2010.”
He described himself as just “going along” with the motions of his career - writing songs, being on tours, and then recovering to start it all over again. All the while, he felt he never had “the chance” to look beyond his immediate future. “[The pandemic] allowed me to think back, look at old photos and videos and reflect on what’s been going on for the past 10 years,” Horan said. “Be grateful for it, be nostalgic about it, and really properly reflect instead of being onto the next thing.”
It was during this period of self discovery that Horan wrote his already acclaimed third album, The Show. “I just sat down one night and the words, 'Life is like a board game some of the time,' came out of my mouth for some reason. I don't know why” the singer recalled. “I just realized that 'The Show' was like a metaphor for life, and the good and the bad and the ugly about it.” The album perfectly reflects this balance, as his vocal charm is now focused toward more genuine and vulnerable topics such as his own insecurities and anxieties.
While he says the last few years made him “the luckiest man in the world,” Horan also discovered that he’s more of a “thinking person” then he’d even realized. “I think [The Show] was me writing, basically saying, ‘Don’t try to future-proof anything here, really live in the moment, take it as it goes’… because I’ve always overthought on multiple occasions and ruined many a good thing,” Horan clucked nervously.
Naturally, Horan admits that he’s far from, “turning 30 and having solved the world,” yet he is balancing internal anxiety with some external perspective. He appears to be in a great spot, ending with, “I've definitely learned enough about myself at this point to know that what I have is insane. And I want to just keep it.”
Listen to Audacy’s I’m Listening Mental Health Mix and more on the free Audacy app.
Audacy's I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 988. Find a full list of additional resources here.