Saturday, February 23, 2013

why leslie knope is the perfect career role model

I will openly admit that my eyes got a little moist when Leslie and Ben got married last week on Parks and Rec. I will also freely say that I love Leslie Knope. If there is one fictional character who I would want to be my crack spirit guide, it would be her. Mostly because she would tell me that crack is a terrible idea and I should throw that stupid junk away and go for a run instead, which is great advice. But I also think that as a young person just starting my career, I want to look to characters like her to emulate professionally.

(1) She is incredibly respected and loved BECAUSE of her all-consuming neuroticism.
Uptight characters in TV shows always kind of get a bad rap—I’m thinking of Paris from Gilmore Girls, Angela from The Office, and Monica from Friends. Sure, people love these characters and they always ultimately reveal that they have this heart of gold or whatever, but people love them IN SPITE of their neuroticism. People love Leslie BECAUSE she smothers her friends, family, and enemies with exactly the same amount of pathological energy, and she never apologizes for it. 

(2) Similarly, she found love despite the fact that she is not laid back.
Laid back people are always the ones who find love, because they’re so open to new experiences and so unconcerned about how things will pan out. (This is how I’m told laid back people handle things. I am entirely un-laid back so I can’t speak from first person experience.) But Leslie found Ben, who is just as neurotic in his own right, and they’re going to have delightful, worry-ridden children who are smothered with care and affection. I think that is beautiful.

(3) She is super enthusiastic about every task she tackles.
If there is one thing I learned as an intern, it is that nothing will get you further than tackling any task you are given with an unnecessary energy and pizzazz. Filing? I love filing. Updating spreadsheets? Bring it. Leslie pays attention to every detail, and this is why she is great at what she does.

(4) She doesn’t need to put others down to get ahead.
Leslie has a lot of co-workers, but she chooses to cherish them rather than compete with them, and at the same time is not a pushover by any stretch of the imagination. This works to her benefit because she gets promotions with the support her colleagues instead of by stepping on their toes. If she ever did step on their toes, it would be by accident and she would immediately apologize.

(5) She is both feminine and a feminist.
This is a dichotomy that angers me. I consider myself a feminist, because I am a woman and I like women’s rights. I also like pink and wearing dresses and cute baby animals. I hate that in modern society, these things often cannot coexist. Leslie is fiercely pro-women, and she fights her battles with well coiffed hair and ironed clothes. Ten points.

(6) She’s nice even when she’s mad.
This is a hard thing to do, but she’s a classy broad. She gets mad for logical, loyal reasons, or when people hurt her friends. She is never irrational and never unjustified, and the anger is always rooted in love for something.

(7) She likes waffles.
This doesn’t really relate to her career, but I just like a woman who has a sweet tooth and isn’t ashamed to admit it. I love French fries, you mad?

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