The last episode of Parks and Recreation airs tonight, and while the show was never a runaway ratings hit, it holds a special place in many people’s hearts. In no small part, this is because of its heroine, Leslie Knope, whose relentless energy and enthusiasm for even the drudge work involved in government service was an inspiration for every lady who’s ever decorated her cubicle with pictures of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Hillary Clinton. Plus, she loves waffles: “We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.” Priorities!
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)
If you’re sad to see Leslie go — or, at least, go into syndication and off our primetime screens — console yourself with these important lessons.
1. Women need to support other women.
People, in general, are not always good at looking out for each other, and in male-dominated industries, this can translate to women ignoring other women, in order to escape being accused of favoritism. (Or, even worse, to avoid losing their reputation as “one of the guys.”)
Leslie is always firmly pro-woman. From organizing Galentine’s Day — a Valentine’s Day-adjacent holiday, just for ladies! — to finding jobs for her best friend Ann, Leslie always has her sisters’ backs.
2. Friends are as important to your career as co-workers.
Need support, or unbiased advice, or a chance to vent without worrying about it getting back to the boss? Friends are where it’s at. Just because you spend most of your time at work, doesn’t mean that all of your social contacts should be in the office. (Even if Leslie is pretty good at getting her pals jobs in her actual office.)
3. Be willing to sacrifice.
Leslie isn’t exactly a paragon of realistic work-life balance. She’s not the best at sleeping, or eating salads and other disgusting foods, and she works all the time. But in an era where women are constantly either being told to “lean in” or that they can’t have it all, it’s really cool to see a positive female role model who burns the midnight oil because she loves what she does.
4. Believe in yourself.
Women negotiate salary less often than men do, and report being afraid to discuss money more often. They’re socialized to say they’re sorry even when it isn’t their fault, and they do the bulk of unpaid labor around the house. It’s refreshing to see a female character on TV who is so firmly convinced that her way is the best way — even when it occasionally causes conflict in her professional and personal life. In all the best ways, Leslie Knope lives her life without apology.
5. Be collaborative.
Sure, Leslie can be a steamroller, and she tends to think that her way is the best way. But in the end, she always adapts to include others’ ideas and perspectives. And that makes her even better at her job than she would be without input from her co-workers. (Even if they sometimes have to remind her that this is the case.)
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