By Alexa Gavin
Every time I scroll through my social media, I feel overwhelmed with news of friends and acquaintances sharing major life events. Whether it be a close friend or someone from my ninth grade geometry class, I am always happy and excited to see this wonderful milestone being celebrated in this person’s life. However, lately I can’t help but feel something else too. It feels like my friends decided as a group to hit up the adult club and no one told me the Uber was here. It feels like I am being left behind while everyone else is growing up.
This feeling has a name actually: “torschlusspanik.” It is a German word that describes the “feeling of being left behind.” This word originally derived from the Middle Ages and was used to describe a feeling of panic that was induced when city gates would be shut and someone would not make it in before the gates would close at nightfall. However, today it is used to describe the fear that time is running out to act on an opportunity.
With social media, is so easy to find yourself feeling like this. As you witness those around you moving forward in your life, it is natural to feel panic and doubt that your life is not moving at the same pace as others. Up until our early twenties, our life is mapped out for us. Our decisions are made easy, we graduate high school and then we’re expected to graduate college. Once we graduate college, well, then things get a little fuzzy. There is no roadmap to guide you on your decisions. Yet, at the same time, it feels like everyone else around you is making the same decisions. All of sudden everyone is getting married, getting promoted, getting a house, getting something. The only thing I seem to be getting is anxiety and fear.
Fear that I am being left behind as my friends become married and begin having children while it feels like I am lightyears away from that step. Anxious that my life is changing and I am not ready for it and the time is running is out to make a change. Even though the English language has no word to describe this feeling, it is reassuring to know that it exists in German. To know that it is a feeling that exists and other people feel it too.
When I find myself feeling “torschlusspanik,” there are a few things I like to do. One, remind myself there is no right path to life. Just because things might be happening at the same time for some people, doesn’t mean that is the only way to do it. Secondly, talking to someone is incredibly beneficial, whether it be a friend, co-worker, or therapist. The chances are very high that someone is either feeling the same as you are or knows exactly how you feel. Lastly, remind myself of the original meaning of “torschlusspanik” and think I am lucky I don’t live in the Middle Ages.