March 19, 2014

Option A or B: How to Know Which is Best

As hard as it is for our parents (among other individuals) to believe, we are not simply students. We are so much more than that; We are, in no particular order, children, debt collectors, researchers, divas, friends, musicians, party people, intellectuals, chefs, partners, athletes – but at the end of the day, we are all human. Being human encompasses all of the things we are (refer to the above list), but it also emphasizes the need for daily demands to be met that are often forgone or even forgotten due to all of the other things we feel we need to do and be.

In economics, we call it opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is essentially choosing option A or B. It is the “cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action”. For example, I could choose to either go to a two-hour movie or to study for two hours for my managerial accounting exam tomorrow. Whichever I choose to do eliminates the ability to do the other. This is considered a Type I choice as you can only have one or the either. Type II involves the allocation of time, i.e. watching a sixty-minute film and studying for the remaining hour. In each and every solitary day, we are faced with both Type I and Type II choices. These make our lives extremely difficult, even if they also technically make them.

What drives us to make the choices we make? Generally motivation and personal preference, where motivation includes all the forces that drive us to do things and preference is the liking of one thing over another. If I have a 300-level psychology final worth 65% in a few days but my significant other wants to go to for an Italian dinner and a romantic comedy, I have a choice: school or personal life? Although I would much rather indulge in popcorn, spaghetti, and laughs, it is necessary to study for this make-or-break exam. Even if this is an understood fact and motivation is evidently there (because come on, nobody really wants to fail), my personal preferences and personal motivations don’t necessarily have to align with the ultimate decision made. Why would we choose to see the movie over the never-ending pages of our textbooks? Why would we tear up at the sight of one-hundred page chapters and not at Katherine Heigl finally realizing who her true love was all along?

The reason we would choose one over the other is because we see it as the best possible option. Suppose the only information I had gathered regarding this course was its name: Psychology 383 – Psychopharmacology. Either I would best see fit to hang out with my good pal, the wing bearer (Red Bull), in order to cram chapters and chapters of knowledge down my throat, or I would decide that studying would be nothing more than a useless, unfitting and unproductive time period in which could be allocated to relieving stress.

We will never truly know what the best option would have been in the end, we have only ourselves and our past experiences to carve us a new route to wherever we desire. However, we should realize that it is now our present selves who will follow these routes walked upon. But, is it honestly fair to expect that everything we should be doing is what we’re actually doing? Well, as children, debt collectors, researchers, divas, friends, musicians, party people, intellectuals, chefs, partners, athletes, and humans that we are, it isn’t really fair to expect anything. Because of all that we are, it’s hard to solely define ourselves as just anything. My inner musician could tell me to hit up the Arctic Monkeys concert, but my inner sister could push me to hang out with my anti-(good) music sister at home before she has to leave the country for a few months. At the end of the night, I will be forced to make a choice that has the potential to change everything.

Unfortunately – or fortunately, to some – we are not superhuman. We are people with twenty-four hours in a day, one heart and specific needs (see: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). Ultimately, we cannot do everything we want and/or need to do. At the end of the minute, hour, day, week, month and year, we are forced to decide what means the most to us despite how hard it is to make. It’s really just important to realize that we, as human beings, are not perfect nor can we do absolutely everything we want to do.

Featured Image by Flickr.

About the Author

Recultured Team
Recultured Team
This is where you'll find the blog posts that the team has contributed to collectively! What team? Wildcats! -Nope, wrong team. Recultured!

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