As at this very moment, you have a choice to read this piece or go over your Twitter Timeline. Not both. In life, we are presented with options and it is up to us to decide what we want to keep and what we want to lose as a result of keeping what we decided to keep. That, is what economics call Opportunity Cost. If you went through the Kenyan 8 – 4 – 4 System, there is a high chance you came across the word Opportunity Cost, probably during a sunny afternoon Business Studies Class. However, for the sake of those who did not pay attention, let’s define the word.

Opportunity Cost is defined as the loss of one alternative when one alternative is chosen. Most people wonder, why do I have to lose other alternatives when I settle on one? The answer is simple. Decisions are simply choosing what not to have at the expense of what to have. Unfair, right? Well, life is unfair. I have heard this sentiment times too many that anytime someone begins a sentence with the words ‘Life is..’, I feel the urge to complete the sentence for them.

The moment you understand the concept of the cake, you will look at the situation more positively. You cannot eat your cake and still have it. This is a law of life that just cannot get broken. Just like The law of displacement, where you have to displace some water when you jump into the bathtub. Or the law of gravity which has supported most Phone – Repair businesses.

What is the Cake?

The cake are the material and luxurious things in your life. They also could mean things that take away time and resources from your life. For example, going to the club, owning a car, hanging out with friends, even having a spouse! Cakes are things that may (or may seem to) add some spice to your life.

What is Eating the Cake?

Eating the cake is the act of taking away one or more of the cake items in your life. For example, deciding to pursue a Masters Course that will eat up lots of your time thereby preventing you from hanging out with your friends as much as you used to before you began studying.

Practical Example

The most practical example to illustrate this is a Millennial Lady.

Many ladies between the ages of 20 and 26 are non – committal to a particular man in their life because they are trying to juggle between eating the cake and having it at the same time. A close friend of mine (Let’s name her Kate) once asked me what I would do if I were in her shoes. Kate was a 2nd year student at a city University. She had a 4th year student boyfriend from a different city university. Let’s name him Joe.

Kate and Joe had dated two years now and she was feeling some type of way for him. However, Joe was just a student and the only fun he could offer Kate was what his meagre pocket money could afford. You know, off – peak movie dates at Imax, Ice Cream at Cold Stone once in a while, road – trips with borrowed cars and with limited fuel. The typical average campus dates. Their sex life, according to Kate, was heavenly. She had no complains.

On the other hand, Kate’s friends are having a blast! One of them owns a car, apparently a gift from some ‘boyfriend’. Another one lives in a fully – furnished apartment at a lavish estate, again, paid for by some ‘boyfriend’. Another one always asks Kate to take notes for her in class since she is always flying from one city to another, courtesy of her ‘boyfriend’. All of a sudden, Kate feels incomplete. She feels cheated. She wants this life too but Joe is not able to provide it.

Kate’s friends introduce her to this life and Kate meets some ‘boyfriend’ too. This new boyfriend buys her a new wardrobe to start with. ‘A real princess should dress well,’ he says. He is travelling to China to purchase some stock for his business and asks Kate to join him. Kate has never been on a plane. She is thrilled! They go to China. Joe believes the lie that Kate is at her village for a family gathering ,where there is no signal, so they cannot communicate. While at China, they discover that cars are actually very cheap there. Mobile phones too. Kate gets a Mazda Demio and an iPhone 6S as an appreciation for taking him to China.

Kate comes back to school and is now confused. She cannot park her new car outside her school hostel. She cannot even stay at the hostel, lest her new iPhone gets stolen. She has to move. She has been offered a fully – furnished apartment in these member – only estates. Moving there means that is the end of her relationship with Joe. Staying there means she loses out on this new luxury life of hers. What does she do? What would you do?

‘Ken, what should I do?’ Kate asks me.

‘What would you want your daughter to do?’ I ask her back.

‘I don’t plan to have kids,’ She responds.

‘OK. What would your mum want you to do?’ I look her dead in the eye.

‘My mom would want me to be happy.’ Kate justifies herself, ‘She would want me to live well, dress well, eat well. When I’m happy, she’s happy.’

‘No. That’s just a justification for wanting something you know is wrong but do not have the balls to turn it down,’

Kate gets angry. She is angry because I have told her the truth. I am not the kind to sugarcoat.

I bumped into Joe in town one evening and he gave me some news that did not shock me. He was getting married in 3 months. To a Cate. Joe seems to love the sound of the name. Joe told me how Kate had fallen out with Mr. Money months after she had ditched Joe for him. Mr Money was now club – trotting and mall- hopping with a new young-ling, probably prettier than Kate. Joe told me how Kate had reached out to her asking whether they could get back together. Joe had actually harboured the thought for a while. Stupid Joe. Love makes one stupid. Until he met Cate and saw in her what Kate lacked.

Cate was able to decide to have her cake and not fancy the though of how it would taste if she ate it. Kate, on the other hand, wanted to eat her cake, keep it, and at the same time vomit it and eat it again.

So are you a Cate or a Kate?

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