Quarter Life Crisis Project

The story of the project…

The Quarter Life Crisis Project was founded in November 2019 while on a little movie set in Baring, WA, where my daughter was a co-director and videographer of a student-led film. On a break in filming, I asked the film’s protagonist, 28 year old Connor, what he was doing with his life. He replied, “I’m having a quarter life crisis”. “What do you mean?”, I asked. He looked at me and said, “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life…”, and he continued to explain his winding, uncertain life path up to the current year and all his anxieties that went along with it. 

I couldn’t get our conversation out of my head for the next couple of days. It was a slow season in my business and I was also looking for a project. With Connor’s story as the seed, I could see a project bloom.  I knew it would combine moody black and white portraits with interviews of young people explaining their own personal quarter life crisis.

The project would combine my interest and background in mental health with my love of black and white portraiture. I wanted others my age and older to see these young people with the respect they deserved, as not the entitled, lazy millennials we all had been led to believe they were, but as unique individuals each with their own story. Also, as a mother with three kids in this age group, I currently had a window into this generation and was witness to the fact that the stereotypes did not typically hold true. Thus, a project was born.

I put the word out and the young participants came to me, each one eager to tell their life stories of challenge and authenticity. And get their portraits done too, of course. 

As my interviews progressed, I came to realize that today’s millennials are facing a different society than my generation did. For example, they have immense college debt to deal with, thus cannot as easily afford housing, or they tend to stay in group housing situations longer, or stay with their parents longer. Their job market is ridiculously difficult to break into, even with a four year degree, keeping them in low paying jobs, making it difficult once again to afford housing or start a family. Worries of global environmental crisis have prevented some of them from wanting children. Social media has affected their self image, usually for the worse, creating a new kind of societal pressure that we never experienced. Rapidly changing technology has created a pressure to keep on top of things unlike any generation in the past. It’s no wonder that anxiety is rampant among this age group.

According to a LinkedIn article, 75% of young people, ages 25 through 33 experience a quarter life crisis [https://blog.linkedin.com/2017/november/15/encountering-a-quarter-life-crisis-you-are-not-alone]. Yet it is still belittled by older generations and often not admitted to by millennials. I’m hoping that by telling the authentic stories behind the faces pictured in the magazine, it will provide validation to these young people and their experience of their quarter life crisis, thus dispelling feelings of guilt and shame they may carry along with them.

I had planned to exhibit the project, but then Covid hit and it turned into a digital magazine. Please click on the link below to access the magazine.