Zayn will never know what it's like to be anonymous, and it pains him.
The former One Directioner hasn't been shy about his gripping anxiety in recent years, especially since venturing into the world of super stardom as a solo act, and if he could do it all over again... he would.
"I was very ignorant at 17 — blind beyond my years. I thought going on X Factor meant you won a million pounds and got a contract at the end of it," he tells the Evening Standard.
“And I was like, ‘Shit. All my problems are solved. I win a million pounds and that’s it. Simple.’ But you don’t think about everything else that goes with it. You’re only 17, your dreams are immature.”
If he could offer his younger self any advice, what would it be?
“Don’t do it”, he said, before adding: “I would say: ‘do your research and be a bit more prepared about certain situations before you make a decision.’”
Knowing then what he knows now, would he have went through with signing a record deal after his X Factor win? “I probably wouldn’t have [signed]," he said. "I would’ve waited a couple more extra years. Just so I had that time to just get my head around being a famous person. I’ve never been able to have, what’s the word? Anonymity. If I could go back, I’d have a few more years of anonymity.”