Turning 30 is a big deal. In western culture, this age generally marks the beginning of your “adult life” — when you’re supposed to get married, start having children, and settle into your career path. Key words being “supposed to.”
Last year, Stephane Domingues, a small-business consultant living in Paris, France, set out on a 15-month expedition around the world. In order to give his trip purpose, the 31-year-old decided to meet and document the lives of other people his age. He wanted to see how nationality, culture, and living situations shape our values and define our identities.
Now, Domingues aims to publish a book of portraits from his interactions with 30-year-olds across five continents. Check out the book on Kickstarter to learn more.
'Turning 30 was quite an important event in my life,' Stephan Domingues tells Tech Insider. 'I felt it was the case for people around me.'
Domingues spent a few months trying to organise his travel itinerary and a few years preparing financially, but ultimately left his route in 'the hands of destiny.'
There, he met one of his first subjects: Bori Balachew, a cattle farmer and father of five living in a small village in Ethiopia's South Omo Valley.
Balachew has kept cattle and farmed on his family's plantation since he was eight or nine. He considers himself young until he buys more cows, an indicator of wealth.
Balachew described his greatest accomplishment as participating in a Hamer tribe ritual, during which he lived in the bushes and could only drink goat blood and milk.
After meeting Balachew, Domingues (pictured left) bopped around from country to country in search of more 30-year-olds to photograph for his series.
He found his subjects on social networking apps such as Airbnb, Instagram, Tinder, and Couchsurfing. Others he met on the street or through friends.
Domingues shadowed people at home, on their commutes, during work, and while socialising with friends or family.
He always carved an hour for an interview, during which he asked the same questions about life, fears, ambitions, and memories.
Faruk Gomes Antonio, a fisherman from Mozambique, says the event that most shaped his life happened when he was 12. An armed group entered his village, and his family ran to the beach and hid.
He said his best memory is 'right now,' because, 'I am able to have a better job and income than ever before.'
The death of the former Argentinean president affected her most. She heard the news on the radio and cried. 'This made me realise what was my real political opinion,' Rapoport said.
Domingues was surprised by the diversity in his profiles. 'Life is at the same time very different and very similar everywhere,' he tells Tech Insider.
In Bangkok, Thailand, he met Kornnatt Surapat, who dreamed of being a veterinarian as a child, studied economics, and today instructs yoga.
'At 30 I feel like I am trying to find the right balance in my life. I do not feel that old because I am a lifelong learner,' Surapat said. 'I may also feel young because I look younger than my age, even compared to my twin brother.'
On the other side of the world, Domingues met serial entrepreneur Maceo Pasiley, who served five years doing logistics with the US Army before settling in Los Angeles.
He was 16 when the terrorist attacks occurred on September 11. 'I told myself it was an accident, but then realised that someone did it on purpose,' Paisley said. 'I joined the Army two years after 9/11 because I wanted to give back to my country.'
Today he drives his '70s Mercedes to his various ventures, which include a sock company. 'They say that in your 30's you settle in your identity,' Paisley said, 'and I feel that's very much truth.'
'I thought I would be married with two to five children, living in a house with a white picket fence,' said Maria Maltseva, a graphic designer based in Auckland, New Zealand.
That hasn't happened yet, but she's happy. 'I still get excited about little things, like looking at the sunrise,' Maltseva said.
Few people seemed to achieve their childhood ambitions. Leandro Peres Martins dreamed of being a truck driver.
'When I go out and get drunk, I need two or three days to recover. That is quite new,' Martins joked. 'Regarding the mind, I am starting to think much more about my future than I used to.'
New goals crop up as people depart their 20s. Oscar Villarroel Ibarra, of Potosi, Bolivia, hopes to be elected president of the miners cooperative he belongs to.
His father, also a miner, died of lung cancer. As president of the cooperative, Ibarra would want to improve working conditions for his peers and organise recreational programs for their families.
A landmark moment in his life was winning an urban soccer tournament four years running. The prize was a living llama.
Some things in life can't be planned for. Prerana Deora's parents started 'hunting' for her husband while she was in her first year of psychology studies.
She and her husband only communicated by phone in the six months before the wedding. 'The first hours we spent together were so weird,' Deora said.
'I do not have what I can call a job but I am very happy that I can take of my home,' Deora said. She says her 'biological clock is ticking,' and she wants to be a mum.
In Kyoto, he met Satoshi Gotsubo, who practices a Japanese acupuncture technique and pays the bills doing logistics for a copy machine company.
'I used to move on the surface of my life but I feel I am going deeper now,' Gotsubo said. 'I see myself as a collection of many parts that I need to build up.'
Domingues has met over five dozen 30-year-olds in 25 countries on five continents. His trip comes to a close later this year.
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