Being 20 years old: 7 German words that will describe your life

The German language is often seen as obscure, tough and hard to cope with. It’s true, a lifetime might simply not be enough for learning such a language, but what’s undeniable is the fact that German owns some words which perfectly depicts certain states of mind and feelings. That’s the reason why using those complicated-yet efficient terms will make you feel highly satisfied once you get to master the language.

Romanticism led many writers to look for the right words that could fully express their feelings for a society which was leading those young writers to the adulthood.

Schnapsidee. The Schnapsidee are ideas that usually come at night or in the early hours of the morning when you are in the company of other friends who are struggling to go home due to too much alcohol. The Schnapsidee just light up, are genial and often hidden by the desire to immortalize a particular state of exhilaration and carelessness during a successful night. When you have one, you end up bringing home a road sign , or a glass from the bar, a neon sign or whatever a drunk could wish for.

Mutterseelenallein.  Literally the word means “alone like a mother’s soul” and refers to a sense of discouragement and loneliness that even a mother’s proximity could not alleviate.

Hotel Mama. This expression is clear by itself. You are more 25 y.o. and still live with mom and dad, your desire is to become independent but, since you haven’t reached your autonomy yet, you need to accept some hard compromises and restrictions about your privacy. Another term used to indicate who lives with parents is Nesthocker: the abusive roommate of the mother’s nest.

Torschlusspanik.It is literally the „panic of the closed door“, that sensation felt when people around us reach relevant work positions, marry, create a family and we live our lives as we are twenty, afraid to engage ourselves in  demanding relationships which could have massive impacts  and consequences on our lives. It encapsulates, in short, all the anxieties and regrets for some chances we haven’t caught.

Lebensabschnittgefährte. It is the sentimental condition of those who do not want to or just fear to engage too much in a relationship and not be able to go back. The word literally means „the companion of a part of life,“ perhaps not very romantic as a concept but many relationships are only suited to a certain time of life, the one in which everything is still uncertain, such as the city in which you live,  study, work. Moreover, if part-time jobs or fixed-term jobs both exist, why should love be meant to last forever?

Zukunftsangst. Being afraid of the future is something that we all share, but when you are 20 or almost 30 years old, you are overwhelmed by this kind of feeling. The world reveals itself to you with all its shades, its streets, as you remain motionless, uncertain about the path to follow, because at this point of your life you realize that dreams and projects you had when you were younger cannot be fulfilled or are too expensive to become real.

Lebenskunst. The Art of living. Overwhelmed by doubts, uncertainties, hopes, desire of satisfaction , young people  have realized that life should be appreciated for a whole set of small things that make it more enjoyable and less bitter, almost a true work of art. That’s why many young people want to explore new places, always looking for low-cost solutions, having fun during the week-ends with some friends until night, things you just cannot do anymore once you become a responsible adult.


Translation edited by Maria Cristina Odierna 

Italian version here.

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