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The opportunity cost of having friends

By Aimee Lindemuth
web posted October 5, 2020

It was 3:00am in the common room of the main building at a student leader retreat. Ten of us were bouncing on couches or rolling on the floor laughing like mad at all the inside jokes of that day. My brain had basically flatlined by this point, and now I was challenging a friend to a push-up contest. I felt as if I could stay up all night. Not everyone shared my elation though. The energy was quickly sapping from the room. Soon everyone started heading back to the dorm building. I was the last one to leave. As all the lights were being turned off, I walked into the empty gym. It was an open expanse of darkness-calming and quiet. I wished I could stay there all night, alone and at peace, but I knew Haley would be waiting in our room so I left. Even though exhaustion was clawing at us, we stayed up another hour talking, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Everything has an opportunity cost of some kind. One thing in my life I’ve noticed and started to think about is the opportunity cost of having friends.

The thing that makes people friends is their relationship to each other. For most of my quarantine time when I was unable to see my friends in person, I was a bit surprised by how happy I remained, but towards the end, I was excited to go see people again. What is the opportunity cost of having friends? As an introvert, spending time with my friends tires me out and I need to be alone to recharge. When I am tired, it is hard to focus on school and other things I have to do. Some days, for me, it is a choice between spending time with my friends or getting anything useful done. My desire to keep up with relationships often outweighs what I think I could otherwise do. The problem is that sometimes spending time with friends should be given up to get school or other work done. Putting off my school and work makes me stressed and sometimes not get it done at all. Another opportunity cost of developing relationships is not having the time to spend with other people.

As we look at the opportunity cost of having friends, we also have to look at the cost of not having friends. One cost may be loneliness that leads to not being productive because you’re too busy being depressed because you don’t have any friends. Friends can encourage us when we need it and help motivate us. Getting to spend time with friends can be the incentive we need to work more efficiently. Not having friends means we may never have anyone to pull us out of our comfort zone.

What is the best use of my time? I’ve begun to realize that there are many economic concepts that apply to my wellness. There is a lot that goes into maintaining friendships. Time is the most valuable commodity that I possess. I have to be careful when friends demand more time than I can supply. Thinking and considering carefully how I spend my time will make me both more agreeable to interact with and make me more effective completing things. ESR

Aimee Lindemuth is senior in high school and young enough to participate in push-up contests. © 2020 Aimee Lindemuth

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