The Opportunity Cost of Stagnation

It’s getting hard to keep up with the rest of the world when you’re stuck in a state of stabilization. It’s almost as if you’re in an interminable state of paranoia, not knowing how to keep up with everyone else. In high school, I desperately desired some sort of change in my life. The same monotonous daily routine was well, boring to me. I envied the ones who travelled the world, wrote books, or even got to spend a lot of time with their friends. I needed a change. You might think, well what was stopping you from doing those things? And my answer was: Time.

It was always seemed as if I didn’t have enough time for anything, and it seemed strange to me considering I was still in highschool. However, with the stress of University applications and pressure to get accepted into the program of my dreams, I thought that perhaps I needed to work hard now so that I would be able to change my life and acquire a sense of bliss and freedom in the future. By doing this, I regained a sense of control and focus; I had priorities and goals engraved in my mind. I took all necessary steps to achieve them, even if it meant giving up on other things. Yet despite getting accepted, I wasn’t satisfied.

One spontaneous afternoon, I decide to explore the Financial District in Toronto. I see business men dressed in Armani suits and business women holding Prada handbags, all rushing to their six-figure salary jobs on Bay St. They look stressed, and look as if they cannot afford to waste a single second. It really brings enforces the idea that “time is money.” Yet they’re successful for a reason, because they spent years building themselves up to the top of the corporate ladder. I imagine, “Will that be me in a few years?”

I enter Rotman Commerce at the University of Toronto in September. I’m amazed at what the people here have accomplished. I’ve met incredibly bright, ambitious individuals from all around the world, including entrepreneurs, scholars, even athletes. I absolutely admire each one of these individuals, and they have my inspiration to grow. Some of you may feel inferior to others, which is hard especially when you graduated from the top of your class and are now surrounded by people who you think have accomplished way more than you did. However, we need to realize that we’re not in a competition with others. We’re here to learn, grow, and become the best version of ourselves. We don’t know what others had to go through in their lives, so stop before you judge.

Envy is the most stupid of vices, for there is no single advantage to be gained from it.” — Honore De Balzac.

My mentor told me a month ago, “You’re smart kiddo, that’s a fact. But if you want to go places, you still have a lot to learn.” This piece of advice resonated with me, and will probably continue to do so for years. There is always room for improvement for yourself, and as hard as it may be to accept, this is also true for people who you consider to be “gods” (Yes, even Warren Buffet).

We’re about to enter 2017. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities waiting for you every single day. There is absolutely no reason for you not to grab them, even time. One of the biggest things I learned this year was that if you want to be successful, you need to be able to adapt to the needs of the workplace. Not enough skills? Acquire them. Not enough experience? Get that experience. Not enough time? Make some. If I realized this in high school, time would no longer be an excuse for me and I would have achieved more than I thought was possible at the time. Now, however, I have absolutely no excuses. And you don’t either. Stop thinking that there’s something holding you back from accomplishing your goals, because there’s not. I promise you it will not be easy, but it’s necessary to struggle — because that’s the tradeoff of getting what you want.

If you have a desire to achieve your goals, learn to adapt, reconstruct your priorities, and do not be afraid of change, because the opportunity cost of stagnation is success.