Warding off Torschlusspanik


I know you’re French but you’re talking gibberish Perrine!

That’s a German word and you’re going to see, it’s easy to understand…

Here’s how German works:

  • Zahn: tooth | Arzt: doctor => Zahnarzt: dentist
  • Kranken: the sick | Schwester: sister => Krankenschwester: nurse
  • Krankengymnast… are you guessing? It’s the physiotherapist. Nice, right? It’s true that being a physiotherapist can involve some serious workout!

In German, you can forget about the Latin or Greek roots that trick us in English or French.
Most of the nouns are built from commonly used words.

Tell me, do you know how to spell otorhinolaryngologist properly?
I don’t: I just checked online!
In German, they use Hals-Nasen-Ohren-Arzt (throat, nose, ears doctor): absolutely no problem getting that.

Now, imagine how frustrated I was looking into a German dictionary that doesn’t record all the words being in use…
There’s no other choice than racking one’s brain and getting the riddle playing bug!
I feel like the German language offers infinite possibilities and boosts our creativity. Nothing less!
Well, let’s bring it back around.

Tor | Schluss | Panik!

Torchlusspanik literally means gate shut panic.
In Medieval times, city gates used to be shut at nightfall for safety reasons, which left latecomers no other choice than to stay outside, thereby exposing them to various dangers: cold, wild animals, bandits, etc.

Today the expression has turned into something more metaphoric.
Torschlusspanik is often used to describe women who are anxious that they’ll never find the one and/or might never have children of their own.

Since you can pretty much make any word yours in German, I’m in favor of a broader interpretation, I’m in favor in gender equality!

Torschlusspanik is the fear that our life goals and opportunities shrink as time goes by. We feel like time is running out to act on these goals and that our window of opportunity is closing.
It doesn’t only affect women but any person who moves straight forward in their life (career, house, family) without considering side doors, often open.

One day however, we ask ourselves what’s hiding behind these doors, and the temptation grows… so strong that we can’t help but push them open

We all suffer from Torschlusspanik

Torschlusspanik, mid-life crisis, FOMO (fear of missing out), and now quarter-life crisis, to me it’s all pretty much the same at different stages in life.
We avoid to ask ourselves too many questions, we follow an already paved roadmap, one which is known in advance, secure, and comfortable. But slowly, our inner voice gets louder and louder…

Many people tell me: ah, if I were 20/30/40 years younger, I would do what you do!
The truth is that they’ve had the will to hit the road, or they’ve cherished the dream to sail across oceans, or to write a book, or to learn how to dance, or to start their own business… Whatever that is, they’ve made other decisions, like sticking to their job or creating a family, and built up their comfort instead.
Any choice has consequences.

It’s up to you then. Please keep in mind that there are seasons in life and waiting might make it more difficult to go for it. But not impossible!

The truth is that you won’t make the dream happen if you only hope for a change in the outside conditions. You have to take control. Now. Actually you’re the only one in charge of your life.

Ask yourself the right questions, keep looking for answers, and don’t bury your dreams too deep.

When you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

The starting point is to accept that there will be discomfort in the unknown, and to develop your intuition and trust.

Because, just as Paolo Coelho explains in The Alchimist, signs will guide you. However, the more you ignore them, the rarer they become and year after year, they’ll disappear.

The final say from a German philosopher:

“Life is too short to be spent regretting everything we were not audacious enough to try.”

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Let’s dare!!


Here’s my favorite TEDx Talk: Osez traverser les frontières (English subtitles available) by Anjuli Pandit, a 27 year-old Indian-American student in Paris who’s very determined, enthusiastic and right to push us to dare crossing borders.

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