The question that gets asked more at social events than any other is probably “So what do you do?” Don’t quote me on this though, I have no empirical evidence that suggests it is so. It just feels that way to me. The minute you give an answer to this, the asker immediately decides on the kind of person you are off the basis of whatever stereotypes or thoughts they have of people in the same profession.

Other than a stint as a magazine editor, when I had a clear answer to this question, I have been generally been left at a loss for words when asked. Amongst the different jobs I have had, there has been poet, booker at an actor’s agency, project manager for a public franchising project, information officer for a small record label, event director for a fashion brand, founder of an IT company and television researcher and producer.

Too many people define themselves by what they do for a living which is why, when you take that away, it can create chaos. We are now living in a time when we have to come to terms with our lives beyond work. When cooped up indoors, you can’t just do work. You are then faced with you. What do you actually enjoy doing? Do you bake, or knit, or paint, or read, or draw, or build puzzles …?

If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do with your time? Would you continue to work? Would you pursue something else?

Life has to be about more than work, I think. How we define ourselves has to be about more than just what puts food on the table and keeps the roof over our head. Even when you enjoy what you do for a living, it can’t be the only thing that defines you. I don’t think any one of us fits perfectly into a single box. Now is the time to embrace all dimensions of who we are.

4 Comments

  1. Reboneng Makoa

    Truth is the work-to-live nature of life today has also defined personality and even comes to influence human interaction. Reminds me of the first question uncles and aunties would ask on first meeting you as a child; “what do you want to be when you grow up”. Expectations were only recognised and stereotyped professions like medicine, teaching, government officials etc. You would not dare mention ‘houseband’ which is becoming common lately with rise of gig economy.

    Maybe I will start saying I am a great farther who likes watching cartoons and good laugh.

  2. Palesa Etsane

    Hi Kojo. I enjoyed this article. Since the lockdown I have definitely challenged myself I am taking classes online and have started coaching clients online as well. It will be great to keep up this conversation and share how it’s going.

  3. Kojo Baffoe

    Thanks for the comment Palesa. Do keep in touch and share how it is going. Our new normal is still to come.

  4. Kojo Baffoe

    We have to start taking ownership of the narrative and changing the questions we ask, now that we are the uncles and aunties.

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About Kojo Baffoe

Of Ghanaian/German heritage, raised in Lesotho and currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kojo is the proverbial slashie, the professional ‘jack of all trades.’ He is an entrepreneur, writer, facilitator, content architect, former men’s magazine editor and speaker. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (1994) with majors in Economics, Marketing and Business Administration from the former the University of Natal (Durban), now University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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