15 life lessons learned from Leslie Knope

If I’m being honest, Leslie Knope is one of the two people who made me….me (Buddy the Elf is the other). She taught me about worth ethic, she taught me about how important a positive office culture is, and she taught me the value of friendship. Of course, she also taught me other lessons, like how to rock a patterned shirt, what shades of lipstick are office-appropriate, how to wear bangs, how much whipped cream actually constitutes “enough” whipped cream, etc….but the thing about Leslie is that she went through SO many triumphs and trials that she taught some really important life lessons along the way. I know from experience that the beginning of 2nd semester is a time where inspiration and motivation are at an all-time low, so I’ve compiled some of the Leslie Knope quotes that speak to me the most, and have gotten me to where I am. MUST read while eating waffles.

1. “I have the most valuable currency in america: the blind, stubborn belief that what I’m doing is 100% right”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that your gut instinct is always right. And while I don’t want to seem like I’m endorsing thoughtless decisions and the absence of logic (aka rash decisions), I will say that sometimes the most important decisions come from gut instinct. So, if you really feel like what you’re doing is right, I say go for it-- and remember, in America, self-assuredness is a valuable currency. Along with stubbornness, humor, the ability to cry on-command, and the paper dollar.

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2. “I am big enough to admit that I am often inspired by myself”

HONESTLY, SO IMPORTANT. I’ve found that it’s VITAL to be a person that you can be proud of. I know that many of us are raised to see this point of view as “braggy” or “conceited”....but screw that! If you’ve overcome boundaries, achieved goals, and made decisions that you’re proud of, then you should be inspired by yourself. It’s so, so SO important to be proud of yourself for getting to where you are, and to always try to push yourself to improve. Leslie has worked SO hard for everything that she has, but she’s always looking ahead to the future- and I think that’s a good way to live. And, when it comes down to it, if you aren’t living a life you’re proud of (even if it’s hard), what are you doing?

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3. “Sometimes you have to make the hardest climb to see the most beautiful sunrise”

I know, I know--- this sounds like that Hannah Montana song. But, of course, the beautiful Leslie Knope said it, too. And I think it’s important to keep in mind. Whether you go through some really rough times, or you just learn the hard way that life takes hard work, it’s important to: A) take the time to enjoy the view, and B) remember that it’s always worth it to take the difficult road in order to have the greatest payoff. Of course, after this, she said “the sun is rising over a sea of love, and waffles, and possibility.” And I think this is true for all of us...there are always waffles in your future, if you believe.

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4. “One person’s annoying is another person’s inspiring and heroic”

Ok, as a Type A, extroverted, bubbly blonde, I’m sure that at least 50% of the people I’ve met think I’m annoying. I’m sure of it. But I’ve realized that there are so many people who look up to me for my boldness, my bravery, and my “fearlessness.” Yeah, sure there are people who think it was annoying of me to write a letter to my state senator about an issue that mattered to me...but when that letter got read on the senate floor, and was televised and actually helped to influence legislation, I found that the ratio of people who were inspired by my decision to speak up for what I believed in GREATLY outweighed those who thought I was just wasting my time writing a dorky letter to the government. So do what makes you happy, and whether you know it or not, some people WILL be inspired by you. On another note: being optimistic can be seen as irritating, but lots of people find it endearing! And I don’t care if you’re an extrovert, an introvert, an optimist, a pessimist, or anything in between-- there will always be people who dislike you, but there will be far more people who love you.

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5. “How does taking risks make me feel? Amazing. Tingling sensations throughout my whole body, I feel flushed, my muscles are relaxed, yet I feel awake. Just...a wave of pleasure.”

I never used to be much of a risk-taker….I always believed in taking the safe route and avoiding conflict, whenever possible. And sure, that’s a comfortable (and safe) way to live. But I will say that I never felt quite as proud of myself when I played it safe as I did when I took risks and did the things that scared me. Whether it was choosing to study abroad, choosing to take the harder class, or even just deciding to talk to the strangers in class- who later became best friends- the risks always paid off and gave me my most memorable experiences (**note: does not apply to dangerous risks!!!! Do NOT jump off a bridge and cite this blog post as your inspiration!!!).

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6. “Hoes before bros. Uteruses before duderuses. Ovaries before brovaries”

Alright, let’s be honest. Our girlfriends are the ones who get us through the day. And of course, it you have a significant other in your life, that’s great (no, REALLY, I’m VERY happy for you, ESPECIALLY as Valentine’s Day approaches) --- but it’s so important to make sure that you keep your friends close. If you’ve ever seen a friend get totally consumed by a relationship and forget everyone around them, you know how sad, annoying, and sometimes UNHEALTHY it is for someone to choose their S/O over their besties. After all, there are two things that are forever: diamonds and girlfriends. Ok, actually 3…..dogs are the third.

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7. “We have to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, work. But work has to come third.”

WORK-LIFE-BALANCE. This is so important during college. I remember when I broke my hand my freshman year of college, and I waited two days to go to the doctor, because I thought my classwork was more important than my health. NOT TRUE. Now, I’m not trying to say that schoolwork or jobs should be pushed aside-- just that life (especially in college) is meant to be lived and enjoyed….as long as you can keep the balance up successfully. And waffles are MEANT to be eaten- that’s for sure.

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8. “I am a goddess, a glorious female warrior. Queen of all that I survey. Enemies of fairness and equality, hear my womanly roar.”

GIRLPOWER. I love the Pawnee Goddesses pledge because, not only does it pay a beautiful homage to womanhood, but it encourages equality, strength, and girl power. After all, women can do anything, as long as they remember to embrace their strength, support others, and speak up for themselves when necessary! Sometimes, you’ve gotta let that “womanly roar” out, to show your strength. If we’re being totally honest, I had this quote written on a sticky note on my desk during college.

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9. “Hey, Leslie, It’s Leslie. Hang in there. I love you. Bye.”

Self love is important. It’s absolutely vital. I’m a strong believer that, while friends and family are great, the only person you can really count on is yourself-- so you should be good to yourself! If you needed something from a friend, you’d be extra nice to them, right? So why not treat yourself with the same courtesy and love?! If you can love yourself and keep yourself going during tough times, you’ve got all you need. I know that personally, nobody pumps me up like I do, because I’m the only one who truly knows exactly what I need to hear at any given moment.

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10. "Sometimes when you make an omelet, you’ve gotta break a few eggs. What’s the alternative? No omelets at all? Who wants to live in that kind of world?”

THINK ABOUT IT!!! I know that sometimes, it seems like there’s no easy way to fix a problem or face a difficult situation without making a mess. But if you never shake things up a bit, or take a risk, you’ll never know what you can achieve. The only real way to achieve anything great is to take a risk, and sometimes that will backfire. But if you continually play it safe, you’ll never know what you’re capable of, and you’ll never be able to reap the benefit of your hard work.

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11. “You go big, or you go home.”

I think this is pretty self-explanatory. Leslie Knope NEVER did anything half-heartedly, and I believe that that’s where her success came from. No matter what I’m doing, I like to remember that if I don’t give my all, there’s no point in being there at all. And why would you choose not to take an opportunity to make a difference, prove yourself, and take on a challenge? And THEN you can go home (and take a bath and watch some Netflix) knowing you did something you can be proud of.

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12. “Now go find your team. Get to work. Whatever that work is that you find worth doing. Do it, and find some people to love who’ll do it with you.”

In all honesty, there are about 20 people I can name instantly who I would not have made it to where I am without. My dog is one of them, of course. You need to have your team around you to ensure that you’re supported, cared for, and uplifted when you need it. If you don’t love the people you work with, it’ll be hard to love what you do, and it’ll be hard to achieve anything great. Remember the three most important things in life: waffles, friends, and work. Find friends who will get to work AND eat waffles with you.

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13. “I care. I care a lot. It’s kind of my thing.”

I mean, you’ve gotta know what I’m going to say. In college, you get the opportunity to find your passion-- the thing you enjoy doing and actually care about (a lot). For a while, I was in the wrong major---which I knew, since everyone around me seemed to care, and I just didn’t. And not caring WASN’T like me. And this lesson is important to carry with you throughout your life: caring about what you do is important. This applies when choosing a major, an internship, or a job. If caring is “your thing,” and you’re doing something you love, you’ll never fall behind in your schoolwork or your career.

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14. “It’s a lesson I have learned over and over again, but it bears repeating: no one achieves anything alone.”

I guess I covered this in #12 a bit….but, as Leslie says, it bears repeating. I know from experience that it’s hard to ask for help. It can make you feel weak or incapable. But think about the people that inspire you- I guarantee that none of them got to where they are on their own, so why would you expect yourself to? And every failure is easier to get through, and every success is a little bit sweeter, when you have people to share them with.

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15. “Excuse me, one man’s ‘worst nightmare’ is another man’s ‘total package.’”

Just like her “inspiring and heroic” quote, the message here is that there will always be people who dislike you, and there will be people who love you. And from a dating standpoint, you have to find someone who loves you for you, rather than trying to change yourself to gain the affection of a prospective partner. Even if it doesn’t feel like it now, there WILL be someone one day who comes along and loves the things about you that even you don’t love yourself. So keep doing your thaaaang, and what’s meant for you WILL come. Because you’re awesome. I know it.

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