My interest has never been peeked by ecomomic philosophies. Even now, as an adult living in a society on the brink of an economic meltdown, though I should be fully informed of the issues that are monoplolizing the headlines and preparing for a future that is financially unstable and uncertain, I choose to continue living in the bubble that I have surrounded myself with in hopes that someone else will just take care of it for me. However, as much as I avoid stockmarket jargon, financial securities, and all other mumbo-jumbo related to economical well-being (or lack there of), there is one lesson that I learned while sitting in high school economics class and have yet to forget.
Opportunity cost is the cost related to the next-best choice available to someone who has picked among several mutually exclusive choices; The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action.
Every single day, I am forced to make decisions that affect, not only my own life, but the lives of everyone that has ever been a part of my life. Opportunity cost relates to every aspect of life, not just in regards to finances. It’s the thought of walking down a path and coming to the proverbial “fork in the road.” Faced with two options, the path to the right…or the path to the left. Whichever path is chosen, and whatever rewards or obstacles it holds, by choosing one over the other, you are missing out on the experiences- both positive and negative- that the alternative path had to offer. Opportunity cost is the underlying cause of the nagging question that all women ponder at some point in their lives…the inevitable, “What IF?”
Throughout times of stress, hardship, boredom, resentment, depression; and even through times of happiness and joy, I have often found my mind wandering into the past and posing the question, “What IF?” I never voiced my contemplations because I didn’t want others to make my queries into something they were not. Just because I wondered about the possibility of a different life, didn’t mean that I wanted it. Thinking I was abnormal for having these thoughts, I kept them inside as nothing more than conversations in my head… until I remembered my Economics lesson on opportunity cost.
EVERY dcision- not just the major, life-altering ones- but every little decision that we make in life has an alternative choice. Whether it’s which day of the week to designate as grocery day, what you will eat for lunch, to whom you will marry and spend the rest of your life with, or which stock you will invest your life’s savings with; you are missing out on something, whether good or bad, by choosing the other.
Instead of feeling that I missed out on a life that could have been, I choose to look at what I would be missing out on now had I chosen the other path. If I had stayed in a relationship with my first love, I would not be married to the most amazing man that I have ever known. If I had not accepted the teaching position at the school that was, at the time, not my first choice; I would have missed out on the friendships that were created there. If I had not gone shopping that day, I would have never met the man I would spend forever with. If I never talked about my thoughts of “what IF” to my closest girlfriends, I would have continued to go on thinking that something was wrong with me for wondering if I gad missed out on something- not necessarily better, but different.
Spending time contemplating “what IF” keeps me from focusing on what IS! While it’s completely normal for these thoughts to creep into our minds, I find it imperative to not allow them to hold us back from moving forward. I try to always think about what I’m passing up before I make any decisions so that I can look back with appreciation for experiences that I gain, rather than in regret for those I lost. The fact is that by focusing on possibilities that were never guaranteed, our opportunities for possibilities are overlooked! Hmmm…..