When someone asks, “Who are you?” what is the first thing that comes to your mind? In most cases, we answer this question with what we do for a living. I am a doctor, a teacher, a journalist… etc. But, is that really who you are? Do we place too much value on our careers and lose our souls in the process?
A couple of weeks ago, there was a story trending on Twitter about a lady who got denied a job opportunity because of her dressing. She was out for lunch with a friend, lamenting about her joblessness, when her friend sought to help her out. She called a guy friend of hers who had connections and was willing to meet them immediately to discuss the way forward. When he got there, he apparently told the lady that since she was ‘indecently’ dressed, even on a weekend, she was not a viable candidate for the job.
Society is so tainted nowadays that we almost do not realise that there should be a big separation between life and work. In my view, we must learn to enjoy life without being imprisoned by our careers. This is, of course, with the caveat that we are not harming anyone with this so called ‘enjoyment’.
I have a cousin who works every single day, including weekends. He hardly ever has time for any leisure. Any time you call him or invite him out, he’s busy with work. Meeting him is a miracle. He is almost always buried in his work, save for one month’s holiday per year. I have a million reservations about this. What’s the point of working so hard if you never have time to enjoy your money?
Life is extremely short. The average life expectancy in Kenya is currently 66.70 years. So, how are we going to willingly accept to spend most of this time working?
I am not here to belittle the value of diligence and hard work. Not at all. But all I’m saying is that there is much more to life than your career and work. We will not be here for too long, and it is best to enjoy it while we still can.
There have been stories of people who are extremely reserved about what they put out on social media. The reason? It may come between them and their careers. Of course, in some instances, this is true. But, as long as you are not insulting or bashing anyone on the internet, you should stick to your word. Employers should understand that you have a life outside your career, and they should accept this gracefully.
While it is true that some of us derive our worth and purpose from work, it is necessary to look for a breather outside the capitalist environment. You are not your job, and it is necessary that you make a clear distinction between the two.
Now who of us cannot say that we have experienced at least a taste of being consumed by work, by our employers, by the general oppression, by clients, by the pressures or the need to rely and depend on others? So even if work gives you a sense of fulfilment, you still deserve a life outside of that environment.
Work is an inevitability in society. We need to work, not just for the money, but also for personal fulfilment. But there are far much more things that are important in life. There’s family, mental health, passions, hobbies, travel, friends… We do not live to work. We work so that we can live.