Torschlusspanik: Your Life is Running Out
Torschlusspanik (German) (noun): The sense of anxiety or fear that one’s life is passing them by and that their future opportunities are diminishing.
Persistent travel is an unspoken commitment to giving up everything else in your life you may have been working towards. Partners, careers and investments all tend to become perishables when you’re out of the country for months at a time. Travel is a commitment to be noncommittal; to leave your job, home, friends, relationships and the comforts that these all afford you.
So, why do it?
Start by considering what makes you happiest. No, wait – start considering your life and own mortality. As gloomy as it may be, it is a reality that we only have roughly 70 years to hang out here. Instead of getting all bummed out about this, start thinking about what you want to do in that time, what you define as success.
Personally, sitting in an office for 40 hours a week, looking forward to only having fun 28% of the time on the weekend in order to own a house and a fancy car better than the neighbours’ doesn’t quite make sense. Seems kind of rational, right, to want to enjoy more than two days of your week? Yet, in western society, innumerable people work jobs they don’t care for in order to buy things and gain perceived status. I’m not talking about those few lucky assholes who have great career satisfaction and love their jobs; I’m talking about the vast majority who don’t.
Travelling is nourishing, expects nothing but an open mind and offers you everything. It is the only investment that gives back to you emotionally and is eternal. The experiences you create when you travel do not devalue, go out of fashion or wither with time. The lessons learned do not become obsolete as new advancements are made, and no one can better learn them than you. The beauty discovered when travelling is infinite, the knowledge irreplaceable and the experiences gained shrug off ignorance better than any book or lecture I know.
I travel to learn and teach, to inspire and be inspired. For the freedom of an open road or map, for vastness of lessons learned navigating them, and for the friends you pick up like hitchhikers on your way.
And it’s pretty reachable for most people. More times than I can count, I will have friends tell me they’re “so jealous”.
“I wish I could travel like you do!” they say. Then do it. There is nothing special that makes me able to travel and you unable. Just choose not to get swept up in a career, or to define yourself by what you own. Are you handcuffed to your desk? Is someone forcing a gun to your head telling you to buy new shit? There’s no real reason you can’t quit your job if you want to – you will get another one day if that’s what you’re after. The world will keep turning, only now you won’t be the rat on the wheel spinning it.
If travel is what you want, it’s pretty simple; it’s not unreachable. You don’t need as much money as you may think – half the point is to leave your comfort zone, so don’t stay at the Hyatt and eat plenty of street food and you’ll be surprised how far you get. You will not be lonely often, but when you are, relish it as part of the experience and push yourself to continue meeting amazing people (which you will). Your friends will not abandon you when you don’t see them for months on end; hell – if you have a good one, maybe even your partner will stick around. Nothing will change at home, you can easily slip back into your old life, with your old friends working a similar job and living for the weekend at any point you choose. So stop saying you can’t. If you want to stay at your job and that makes you happy, then by all means, that’s an excellent responsible decision, but in that case say, “I won’t because travel is not my priority in life right now.”
I guess just find out what makes you happy. Start thinking of travelling as a lifestyle choice, not a box to tick. Stop being brainwashed into thinking a status, career and possessions are important. Forget what you think you know about how you should be living your life and start making a conscious decision to think about what you want to do, and not just on the weekend.
Cover by Huang Jiahui