It’s not about the shrimp sandwich

In the famous words of the Spice Girls, “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.” If I do tell you, I’d probably stay here forever and never stop typing because I want a smackload of things, just like any other human being who has no plan whatsoever to trek the path of sainthood. (In the deepest darkest recesses of our minds, we all want something that we would never have the balls to talk about, let alone be caught thinking about.)

In preschool and the early years of grade school, I remember teachers telling my unassuming classmates and I to “Be content of what you have.” I kept that in mind but as I was growing up, it just seemed wrong. Being content of what you have will take you nowhere. You’ll be stuck in a rut, slowly growing tired of every minute, every hour, and every day of your life. The truth is, what people really want in life is to be somewhere.

It’s not wrong to want. What’s wrong is to want too much. Maybe what my teachers should have told us is “Don’t be greedy,” plain and simple. We would have understood.

So what do I really, really want (as of this moment anyway)?  I won’t reveal any deep dark secret desire; I choose to be safe today and tell you a story first.

Yesterday my plan was to go to school, take my exam, stop by the mall, eat a shrimp sandwich, run errands, and go straight home. I ended up doing everything except eat a shrimp sandwich because I decided not to when I was leaving Taft. I rode the bus home thinking about how happy that shrimp sandwich might have made me after taking an exam.

The point of the story isn’t about hating myself for not eating a shrimp sandwich. The point is about wanting what could have been and constantly wondering about what-ifs because my day could have gone a different, less crappier way if I chose to do this instead of doing that.

As young and as un-experienced (ha ha) as I am, I’ve had a lot of what-could-have-beens that I wish were had-beens instead. Some were as serious as “What if I went to a smart-kid high school, would I have been happier?” and as mundane as “What if I wore a skirt today, would I feel better about myself?”

Life is too short for regrets, a cliche goes. I read somewhere that no matter how tacky and dumb cliches may seem, they always hold a kernel of truth.

Life is full of choices, another cliche goes. The guys who wrote the Econ textbook we use for class used that cliche to explain the concept of opportunity cost–the opportunity cost of a decision is the value of the good or service foregone.

What-could-have-beens are regrets, and vice-versa. So wanting what could have been is practically a waste of my stay Here. So the time I spend thinking about the opportunity cost of a what-could-have-been, i.e. regretting a decision, is a big fat waste of time.

And this takes me back to what I really, really want. I want to stop wanting what-could-have-beens if I want to be somewhere.

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PS: What I’m trying to say isn’t new. There are people who even made films about it. See this and this.

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