These 21 bedrooms from across the world will help you understand millennials.

What can you learn about someone from seeing their bedroom?

There are all kinds of theories about how things like color and clutter can convey everything from romantic viability to mental health and so much more. But suffice to say: Those private places where we rest our heads can sure reveal a lot.

Perhaps a better question is: What can you learn about people in general from seeing lots and lots and lots of bedrooms?

That's what French photographer John Thackwray wanted to know.


As part of that vaguely-defined group of '80s and '90s babies known as "millennials," Thackwray saw firsthand how technology was changing the world at increasingly rapid rates and began to wonder about the impact that was having on his generation all around the world. What was the relationship between internet connectivity and inequality and things like education, women's rights, and poverty?

What better way to find out than to look at people's bedrooms?

A map of everywhere that Thackwray shot a "My Room" photograph. ​All photos by John Thackwray/My Room Project.

Over a period of six years, Thackwray photographed and interviewed more than 1,200 young people in their bedrooms (or other sleeping spaces) in 55 different countries.

Like him, they were all millennials. Thackwray found his subjects with the help of friends, social media, and local NGOs — although he did occasionally ask random people on the street if he could photograph their bedrooms, which was just as awkward, and as dangerous, as one could imagine.

But it also helped him learn a lot along the way.

"Each person has their own story and they can talk about something that is wider and more universal. [...] such as living into the war, adoptions, the traditional values, the rural exodus, or the African unity for example. I’m trying to do a big story in a small one," he explained.

Take a look at some of Thackwray's personal favorites and see for yourself what kinds of patterns or other surprising things you notice.

1. Room #24: Joseph, 30, an artist in Paris

2. Room #192: Andreea, 24, a civil engineer in Bucharest, Romania

3. Room #205: Gullé, 29, an actress in Istanbul, Turkey

4. Room #219: Maleeq, 28, an entertainer in New York City

5. Room #256: Ryoko, 25, an IT engineer in Tokyo

6. Room #290: Yuan, 22, a seller in Dali, China

7. Room #313: Fha, 20, a farmer in Ban Sai Ngam, Thailand

8. Room #348: Asha, 17, a housewife in Bamansemilya, India

9. Room #385: Pema, 22, a Buddhism student in Kathmandu, Nepal

10. Room #416: Oleg, 24, a telecom engineer in Novosibirsk, Russia

11. Room #458: Zhalay, 18, a high school student in Zhambyl, Kazakhstan

12. Room #466: Élahé, 29, a painter in Tehran, Iran

13. Room #561: Ben, 22, a movie student in Dallas

14. Room #665: Marcello, 18, a high school student in La Paz, Bolivia

15. Room #711: Claudio, 24, an archivist in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

16. Room #733: Fatou, 17, a seamstress in Thiès, Senegal

17. Room #807: Mohamad, 18, a high school student in Saint Catherine, Egypt

18. Room #867: Ezekiel, 22, a warrior-nomad in Echo Manyata, Kenya

19. Room #915: Josee, 22, an accounting student in Kigali, Rwanda

20. Room #1049: Osia, 18, a shepherd in Ha Selomo, Lesotho

21. Room #1093: Sabrina, 27, a kindergarten teacher in Shatila, Lebanon

These photos are all clearly similar in their bird's eye views of smiling subjects. But they have more in common than one might notice at first glance.

"Most of them share an access to Internet and social network, including Saudi young women and farmers in the African bush. This is definitely the connected generation," Thackwray said. "And something important to keep in my mind is that this is the youth who is designing the world of tomorrow."

They also all have items of personal significance that they keep close to them — which perhaps isn't surprising, but is still a moving reminder that we all fall into the same habits, and seek those small moments of happiness in surprisingly similar ways.

"Many people confuse comfort and happiness," Thackwray said. "Actually I've see more smiles in poor countries, and much more depression in developed countries."

The private places where people sleep reveal a lot about us as individuals. But viewed together, they make a powerful statement about how we all seek solace and serenity, despite our differences in race, religion, gender, career, income, and experience.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.