The NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation has been off the air for a little while now, but that’s no reason to forget about it. With the advent of Netflix, the show is readily available for viewers to watch at all hours of the day (literally, all hours), providing the perfect opportunity to put a splash of Leslie Knope in your day whenever you are feeling down.
While the show is rarely serious, the main character and dedicated Pawnee City employee Leslie Knope serves as a role model to women everywhere. In almost every wise crack and disastrous situation that occurs on the show, there is a lesson to be learned from Leslie, whether it is the benefits of being passionate about your work or the importance of forming strong, meaningful friendships. I’ve compiled a list of 12 important lessons that every woman can learn by watching her.
1. Women are more than capable of success in male-dominated careers.
When Leslie goes on a mission to fight gender inequality in the workplace, she spends the day working as a garbage collector. She is told repeatedly that women are not able to do the job because they lack the necessary physical strength, but Leslie ends up making better time on her route than all of her male counterparts. Her efforts prove that stereotypes surrounding male-dominated careers are often completely false, and that women are capable of far more than they are given credit for.
2. It is totally okay to celebrate yourself.
Women are often discouraged from celebrating their success for fear that they will come across as conceited and snobby. Leslie pays no mind to this and proudly displays her picture among her wall of inspiration women, which includes the likes of Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. She sends the message that women should be proud of their accomplishments and allowed to celebrate them in any way that they see fit.
3. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself.
Sometimes it seems like people are constantly asking more and more of us without paying mind to our own responsibilities and needs. Leslie recognizes the importance of standing up for yourself with a strong, resounding “no” when people are not being respectful of your time. There’s no need for an “I’m sorry but…” because you don’t need to apologize or make excuses for focusing on your needs first.
4. Remember your priorities.
Leslie absolutely adores her job at the Parks Department, and she is completely dedicated and passionate about her work. However, she acknowledges that work is not the most important thing in your life. You have to remember that relationships and your own wellbeing (re: waffles) always come before your career.
5. There is always room for improvement.
Leslie isn’t ashamed to admit that she is good at what she does. You shouldn’t be either. If you are confident that you can make improvements on a peer’s work, you are totally entitled to add your constructive criticisms.
6. We’re incredibly lucky to live in the United States of America.
This very well may be my favorite Leslie Knope quote of all time. Her love for her friends and for Pawnee is rivaled only by her love for the United States of America, as displayed in her trip to Washington D.C. It is a refreshing reminder that even when things aren’t looking so great, there is so much to celebrate about our country.
7. Boys may come and go but your girlfriends are forever.
One of Leslie’s defining characteristics is her intense devotion to all of her friends, especially to her best friend Ann. She sets a best friend standard that we all should live by that includes always being prepared with thoughtful gifts and celebrating the wonderful women in your life with Galentine’s Day.
8. Be your own biggest cheerleader.
You can’t always rely on other people to cheer you on. This could be because they have their own ulterior motives or simply because they are not you and don’t always know when you need a pick-me-up. Leslie teaches us that sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader because only you truly know what you need to hear and when you need to hear it.
9. Don’t waste your time on people who mistake passionate for annoying.
This is something women deal with all of the time. People equate someone who is passionate and determined with someone who is annoying. Of course, as Leslie notes, this is absolutely not true, and you shouldn’t change your actions for fear that some may find you annoying.
10. Your actions today affect your success tomorrow. (Also, you don’t need drugs to have a good time. You just need a really, really good brownie.)
Leslie knows that if you really want to be successful one day, you have to constantly be aware of the choices you make and how they might affect you in the future. This by no means you can’t have a good time. There are plenty of ways to be fun and exciting that won’t cause a scandal when you’re running the country one day (side note: your definition of what is acceptable and unacceptable is the only definition you should be basing your decisions on).
11. People are intimidated by strong, successful women, but that doesn’t mean you should change to please them.
This is similar to the lesson about being mistaken for being annoying. There are people in this world who for some unfathomable reason fiercely hate successful women. Don’t get down on yourself because some loser decides to criticize your body or your intelligence or whatever else about you they can attack simply because they can’t deal with the idea that a woman is more successful than they are.
12. Appreciate the present and all of the wonderful aspects of your life.
When Ben got down on one knee to propose to Leslie, she didn’t immediately start planning her dream wedding or start thinking about all of the men from her past that she could have married instead. She took the time to appreciate the amazing moment that was occurring before her. This is a lesson for all of us to stop constantly obsessing over the past or the future and enjoy what is staring us in the face in the present.
Here’s to you Leslie and here’s to a life full of waffles, strong women, miniature horses, cute butts and Galentine’s Days. Thank you for giving us so many laughs throughout the years and thank you for teaching us such valuable lessons along the way.
Cover image courtesy of Pop Fundraising.