Homo Oeconomicus – Being a Thing

This will arguably be the most conceited post from me yet. (I’m sorry!!) But it has elements of truth in it.

We will be remembered for 2 things, the problems we solve and the problems we create. Perhaps this is why we are so cherished by our parents. We create such headaches for them as little tykes that they come to cherish us. Think about it; no sleep, constant wailing, a rather insistent appetite and complete dependence. We sure created enough problems for them in order for us to become dear to them J

Off course this principle of problem-solving translates into the workplace. Do you create or solve problems for your boss or clients? Or rather, what problems do you create and solve for your bosses and clients? I used to daydream about the day I would sit at an interview table and tell guys “I am this thing that churns out sick code at 120 lines of code per hour. I have X thousands of delivered source-code instructions under my belt. This code machine also smiles and likes a bit of music after hours. But its core functionality is to code.”

So that aside, everyone has their skill, talent, gifting. Some are musicians, artists, leaders, engineers, designers, financiers and so forth. For some people, they can sell ice to an eskimo. The question they have to answer therefore is what will they sell? Some choose to sell Dante’s Inferno! Some are political operatives, do they go left, right or balance the middle?

The point here is, the sooner you come to the realisation of exactly what your competitive advantage is, the better for all of us. Some realise this gifting after marriage, while others realise it before marriage. For some who realise it before marriage they become eligible. They operate from their area of strength and the market recognises this in them, rewarding them accordingly.

So anyway, the main slant of this article is about eligibility and its effect on certain areas of life. This is not to claim eligibility in any way by the way. Eligibility can also be a pure function of scarcity. (Sad but true in this day of the boy child.)

That being said, society has a rather mistaken view that being an eligible bachelor is fun. It is not. It means that you are different in certain, shall we say, fundamental ways. You become a thing in the one area where you would prefer to be human. You run the risk of getting your wants and needs developed on the run rather than pre-packaged. It sometimes makes you wonder what a given person-of-the-opposite-gender’s motive is in certain contexts. It makes you approach many interactions from the point of view of “I hope we can have a normal interaction.” Being a thing is not easy, but from experience on both sides of the tracks it’s better to have such problems than problems stemming from ineligibility. The problem is more pronounced if you want to do right by the people in your life. In short, eligibility changes the dating game fundamentally.

At the heart of the matter is that eligibility can change the way people around you behave. What this dynamic does is to change who he/she is to suit his/her understanding of who you are and what you want. As a result it strait-jackets your interactions together into certain very well defined pathways. Breaking out of these scripts and pathways becomes an art form. This creates a superficial and unnatural relationship in which best points are fronted while bad points are hidden. The basic premises of compatibility and inter-personal understanding may not be dealt with at all! As a result the foundation of the relationship starts off ‘broken’ so the pieces remain to be picked up after the nuptials. That is when the real work in the relationship begins. Sometimes men wonder why she changed after the wedding. What happened is that she changed before the wedding and no longer needs to keep up pretences!

One of the tenets of male spouse-searching is this concept of ‘growing together’. Past 27 either certain particular dynamics kick in or the girls just want to see the material expression of your dreams. It’s just that much harder to grow together. Either way you are at checkmate bro.

My understanding of growing together means that you can be a boy with her and the girl in her is capable of relating to that side of you. Most importantly you as the dude are simultaneously and privately working on the man who will provide for her and her family, your family together. You should kind of be like the duck that appears smooth and unruffled above water while paddling furiously beneath the water. Don’t get me wrong on this, a man plays a crucial socio-economic function in his family. Emotional support and all that stuff IMO lasts only briefly. At the end of the day the man has to bring home the bread and the bacon! Absent this a family becomes dysfunctional in rather unpleasant ways.

For this reason, cot-napping or cradle-snatching increasingly becomes a viable option. A girl at 24 years feels absolutely no pressure to settle down. As a matter of fact, if the two of you settle down at that age you as the man will be denying her the chance to see the world on her own terms and come to appreciate certain things for herself. More specifically this is the opportunity for her to learn what’s what, who’s who and what is up for herself. By the time she begins to feel the urge to merge, my friend, you are the finished product. Voila! An additional advantage is that by the time you are both ready, you have sufficient relational history to make a serious decision on whether to proceed or not.

Many people think that once you are through with campus then the next goal is to settle down and start a family. A lot of things in me scream out that this assumption is wrong. The other day I was in a deli picking at a plate of fries. At the table next to me some 2 campus students, girls, were discussing an assignment that their lecturer had given them. They were supposed to describe their philosophy of life in an essay. They didn’t know where to start. So I intruded in on the conversation and told them to relax. They would know in the next 5 years or so. It has been said in some quarters that at 25 you know what you want and then at 30 you know what you don’t want. So this is why I think that settling down immediately after campus may not be the wisest of things to do.

This has been especially true for me. Over the course of those 5 years I have learnt to operate from different angles of society. But I much prefer my current niche to mainstream alternatives. Granted it could force me to cot-nap and cradle-snatch, but at least I know my wife would respect me and would not be second guessing my thoughts and actions. This is not to say that I would not value her opinions. On the contrary, they are likely to be fresher, more lively, richer in spirit than those of mtu amekula chumvi kama mimi J It can be easier to be cynical than otherwise.

Yeah so there you have it folks, the tragedy of the commons in present day Nairobi!


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