Earlier this year I received a lovely parcel of paperback books in the post, kindly sent by my Mum’s cousin who decided his Moomin collection was due a new home. I was read Finn Family Moomintroll as a child and loved the 90s TV series (despite my terror of the Groke) but rediscovering the stories as an adult is just lovely, not least because amid the gentle narratives – themselves a welcome reprieve from the state of the world – are little pearls of wisdom and valuable life lessons.
For starters, the Moomin family are tolerant, accepting and supremely unselfish. It seems any new friend is welcome in the Moominhouse and no acquaintance is forgotten in times of trouble. Moominmamma doesn’t bat an eyelid when Moomintroll and Sniff return from a quest to find out more about an approaching comet with four additional companions, and merely focuses on giving them all coffee and ginger nuts before they take shelter in a cave. I could actually end this post here, as open-mindedness and compassion are much needed in today’s society and I think everyone could take a lead from these fairytale creatures. However, I want to take a slightly different angle and reflect on this particular sentence that stood out to me the other day, which describes part of Moomintroll’s journey home from the aforementioned expedition:
It was a funny little path, winding here and there, dashing off in different directions, and sometimes even tying a knot in itself from sheer joy. (You don’t get tired of a path like that, and I’m not sure that it doesn’t get you home quicker in the end.)
– Tove Jansson, Comet in Moominland (1946)
Now this seems to chime very much with the twists and turns of my career path, which I tentatively stepped on to without really knowing where it might lead. When I graduated from my MA in 2011, finding work was not easy and I didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of a lot of my friends by taking a job in a bank, because I knew I would hate it. Granted, that might have been less stressful than what I actually did, which was to gradually build up a portfolio career of part-time and freelance roles over several years.
I wound my way around evening shifts in both a library and a theatre, whence I dashed from different directions including a small film production company in the city centre and my shared house in the suburbs, where I wrote poorly paid articles for a news website. I tied myself in knots of frustration at unpaid copywriting internships as well as unreeling spools of joy when I had an eBook published, navigating my way around these different experiences. I dropped hours or responsibilities in some places as more interesting opportunities appeared, and didn’t actually reflect that this was quite an unusual way to go about making a living until much later. Nevertheless, as Tove Jansson so eloquently expressed, I’m not sure it didn’t get me ‘home’ quicker: one of my part-time jobs grew, eventually becoming full-time and something I absolutely love.
Through working different jobs simultaneously I developed a range of skills (not least time management!) and started to identify what I was good at and what I really enjoyed. Sure, I could have taken something full-time sooner, and very likely earned more as a result, but I sincerely doubt I would have the same level of job satisfaction that I do now. Of course, everyone is different and has varying expectations and priorities of what a job or career should entail. I suppose I’m just trying to say don’t be scared of taking a winding path and staying true to yourself, because even if you can’t see your final destination, through embracing a few twists and turns you’ll almost certainly have some interesting experiences and meet wonderful people along the way – just as Moomintroll does.