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Quarter Life Crisis Project


United States.

My project is about individuals in their 20’s and early 30’s who are experiencing a rather common time of transition, often bumpy and full of uncertainties and anxiety. Aside from discussing their “crisis”, the project also has the participants discuss the differences in today’s society that older generations may not take into consideration when making judgments of current day millennials.

One only has to look towards disastrous climate change, student debt, job scarcity, divisive U.S. politics, and impossible housing situations, to name a few things, to understand why these young people might be experiencing some questioning of their future that was different from past generations. Of course, throwing Covid into the mix didn’t help matters..

The project includes several black and white moody portraits and accompanying interviews of 21 different participants, ages 21 – 32.

Often, it seems as if older generations dismiss the quarter life crisis, belittling it and downplaying it, invalidating the young people’s experiences. This creates a rift between the generations.

Hopefully if this project is seen by many, it can bring some understanding and compassion as the young people will finally feel heard, and the older generation may have their eyes opened up as to some of the issues that the young people discuss here in the project. This project will normalize this common period of human development for the young people as well.

Emily- “But as the dust settled from that whirlwind of excitement and achievement, I found a deep and aching emptiness still gnawing at me. The feeling that I was nothing remained by my side. And I couldn’t understand it…”
Mackenzie – [I was diagnosed with terminal lung disease.] “I think survival is really just taking it one day at a time and living in the moment. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned. It’s good to make plans. But God laughs at our plans sometimes because there’s a bigger thing.”
Nova – “I see people my age who are super successful… and I look at myself at the same exact age. I look at where I am and I just think, when will I be able to travel somewhere else and have some kind of equally successful career and be as equally in the public eye… before it’s too late?”
Jordan – “So it’s normal. It’s like, everyone’s going to go through it at some point in their life… I honestly did a lot of self reflecting as to my career. That’s how I got out of the juggle between like, should I got b ack to psychology or should I continue entertainment, my passion? I know life is driving me in this direction…This is where my gut is telling me to go. My gut is almost always right.”
Diego – “It’s different being 24 in 2019 than in 1989…What’s different now is that we’re dealing with problems that really haven’t been around for very long. For example climate change…”
Tangmo – “I want to have my own life. I was to follow my dreams. But on the other side, my parents asked, what are you doing? Why are you doing this stuff? Art doesn’t make any money.”
Lavina – “I think that trying the things you loved as a child is a huge clue into what you love when you’re older. I really do think life is like a little spiral and you continually come back to the things you were.”
Maddie – “A simple diagnosis like my cancer diagnosis flips [life] around and I have no idea what I’m doing anymore. My body is still able [to have kids] but it’s such a hard conversation because there’s already the judgement of being queer and wanting to have kids…”
Kathie – “My Mom was diagnosed with cancer…and she passed away….after then I was kind of reassessing my whole life of what I truly wanted to do. Is this something that my Mom would be proud of me for doing? It’s not something I could ask her about anymore.”
Brandon – “I think that’s kind of the general malaise and attitude of a lot of people my age. They don’t know it maybe or they don’t think about it, but it’s just this kind of subliminal messaging that at any given moment, you could fall under.”

[ Find the complete digital version of “Quarter Life Crisis Projecton Issuu.com ]

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Jean Kercheval

Jean has been a portrait photographer for the last twenty years and is located in the Seattle area. Her most recent project is the Quarter Life Crisis Project, a story of young millennials, ages 21 through 32, that she photographed in her studio and interviewed and then compiled the work into a digital magazine for publication. She has also been published in various magazines.

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