There’s a concept in economics that is known as opportunity cost. Wikipedia defines it as “the value of the best alternative forgone where, given limited resources, a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives”. I loved economics in secondary school and I was really good at it, if pharmacy hadn’t worked out, I probably would have put in economics as first choice in JAMB.
We have all forgone certain things in the journey of life, whether it is shoes, clothes, job opportunities, relationships or a certain kind of lifestyle. It is actually impossible to have everything you want, there are limited resources available to everyone- including billionaires.
You determine what’s important to you, what is key, what is superfluous and what can be juggled to a better time and place. Economists call it scale of preference and everyone does a version of it all the time. Whether it’s deciding to go to the cinema on your free weekend instead of spending it on your bed (which is what I would do) or spending that two thousand naira on buying a pair of jeans (would you still find one at that price in this Buhari economy?) instead of buying Coldstone ice cream and a slice of red velvet cake or buying two or three novels to make boring weekends bearable.
For life’s more important decisions it is easy to feel dread over the prospect of making choices, we all want to have our cake and eat it (eat your cake and have it shows the situation better, sadly the owners of the language say it is wrong). “What if” becomes a mantra in your head and the prospects of your choice flash like giant screens showing horror movies in your head.
For many people, the opinions of others carry plenty weight in their decision making process. What will people say if I decide to quit my job and start writing full time (as if!) or what will they say if I leave my husband who has been abusing me and the kids for years? Let me tell you this free of charge- people will always have something to say, whether you live or die. You are also not that important in people’s minds that they will spend all their time obsessing and talking about you.
What if (horror of horrors!) you become tomorrow’s hot gist? Gossip has a shelf life of two weeks (according to my mother) and before the two weeks is up, another topic would have totally replaced you. Remember when Don Jazzy and Olamide were on many lips, when leave trash for Lawma trended? Do you still talk about Oga at the top? But they were hot topics weren’t they? People even printed T-shirts, right? But we’re talking about other things now like my boyfriend Usain Bolt’s nine Olympic gold medals, the outrageous treatment of Caster Semanya *I really should write about that* and of course President Buhari’s quest for more power.
When you make your choices, remember that no one lives your life for you. Not your spouse or kids or parents or siblings, just you. I’m not saying you cannot or should not consult anyone before making your decisions, you also should pray hard too but never forget that in the story of your life, you are the protagonist, everyone else is a supporting character.
It is perfectly normal to wonder about the road not taken, to wish you can change your choices. Life overwhelms and at those times, uncertainty will get a resident’s permit in your head without even applying for a visa. Again for life’s key decisions with their high stakes, regret clenches your gut and lungs. It is not easy to ride through, however it is totally doable.
But regret is perfectly normal, no matter how excellent your choices are. You will wonder at the alternative even in good times. It is human nature to be unsatisfied, that is the reason we have advanced this much as a species to be honest. We have always wanted more, we will always want more, it is how God made us. Sometimes I wish I had gotten married at nineteen and started having babies pronto. I don’t even know why such thoughts come because if I had gotten married at nineteen, I would have been divorced today and I most probably would not have had the opportunities that are open to me today. I do not trust people who say they have no regrets, life isn’t that wonderful.
“Don’t make that decision or go down that road, you will live to regret it” is something we hear often from others, especially our older loved ones. Whether or not you make that decision, regret is inevitable. Question is, will the wisdom and gains of your choice cancel out the weight of regret? Either way don’t let regret stop you from revving when you need to. Selah.