Emerging adult – a developmental stage that was first introduced in 2000 — is a stage whose defining trait is instability. It’s “a phase of life that is only possible in countries that give you the possibility to postpone adulthood” (as quoted by Ass. Prof. Mag. Dr. Ulrike Sirsch in the film), where some adults aged 20-25 are allotted the opportunity to get to know themselves better and explore the contribution they want to make, before taking action. It’s a period of reflection with a whole host of problems, many of which filmmaker Sonia Suvagau approaches with the help of a long list of peers and experts in her documentary Our 1/4 Life Crisis.
What are some of these problems?
Well, first there’s the problem of distraction, because when we’re exploring ourselves (both the good and the bad) it’s no surprise that we’d want to hide, but the question is: for how long? The danger – as this film explores – is being able to identify when this period has ended. When does the ’emergence’ end and adulthood begin? How do you move out of instability? And backtracking a little bit: is it okay for Millennials to be unstable in the first place? It’s a crisis that feels easy to patronize and diminish as ‘self involved’. We’re young, after all. What do we have to be so afraid of? We have our whole lives ahead of us. Right?
Despair, loneliness, comparison, fear of the future, and addiction are just some of the topics the featured individuals (many of whom are from Vancouver, BC) explore throughout the documentary. You’ll meet Charles Heffernan, a mime who adds an engaging non-verbal narration to the documentary (and you’ll have to wait until the end of the film to fully satisfy any curiosity about him); Jack Doyle, a charismatic nomad who hopes to travel the world as a busker; Nic Taggart, an actor who speaks to us from a modest basement suite about a survival job that leaves little room for dreaming; and Phoebe Stolzenberger, a young woman who bravely approaches the question of her own sexual orientation for the first time.
The film also closely follows the relationship between Suvagau and her boyfriend Sebastian Hugeneck as they work through their own individual 1/4 life crisis’s while still trying to relate to another – which inspires several more questions about connection, such as: how well can we actually see each other when we’re afraid?
Featuring advice from musicians, entrepreneurs, academics, and anxiety coaches about the role of crisis in our lives, the film does end on an optimistic note. To find out what that ‘note’ is, you’re going to have to watch it.
Our 1/4 Life Crisis screens at the Jewish Film Festival in Vancouver on November 9th at Fifth Avenue Cinemas. Filmmakers Suvagau and Hugeneck will be in attendance.
You can learn more about the documentary (and submit your own 1/4 life crisis story) by visiting them at their website.
By Christine Bissonnette
Christine Bissonnette is a writer and spoken word poet interested in courage. She manages the website Creative Life, a collection of stories and conversations that explore what we’re really talking about when we refer to that oh! so elusive word: creativity.