What Would Leslie Knope Do

It is after dinner on a Saturday night when I sit down to write what will become my first blog post in over three months. I can’t say I planned to take a break, but I can understand why it happened. I have a tendency to burn myself out. After a few weeks, the novelty of keeping up with one or two weekly posts had worn off, and I was back to where I started, unsure of how to love what I do. 

I wish I could trace my return to blogging back to a single moment. But inspiration is rarely as cinematic as we would like it to be. It was really a series of little moments that lead me back here. It was lots of staring at my desk and thinking, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and lots of difficult tomorrows. It was a few tears sessions with my beloved therapist. It was an Instagram post from a friend where she talked about diving into things before we’re quite ready. And it was Leslie Knope.

My little sister is watching Parks and Rec for the first time, and I’m rewatching the whole show from top to bottom for the first time (I’ve rewatched certain episodes dozens of times, but never the whole show) along with her. Parks and Rec is one of those things that reminds me of why I miss breathing (if this sounds like gibberish to you, I’m referencing my first blog post). I first fell in love with the show when I was a very miserable high schooler, and I’ve clung to the joy it brings me for years.

When people ask me why I love Parks and Rec so much, the answer is always the same: because of Leslie. Leslie Knope is hardworking, passionate, and completely self-directed. She loves wholly and she pours herself singularly into her goals. I think my favorite thing about the show is how everyone in her life loves Leslie and would do anything for her because she has already proven that she would do the same for them. Leslie Knope is everything I aspire to be.

When I say that Leslie Knope is part of the reason I wanted to come back to Miss Breathing, it’s because I came to an odd and jarring little conclusion: I think Leslie would be disappointed in me. 

     A fellow Capricorn, Leslie is a true perfectionist. The major difference, however, is that she doesn’t allow her dreams of perfection to hold her back from trying. Meanwhile, I created a blog as a means to reacquaint myself with imperfection, and I quit it after a few weeks because I was afraid it wasn’t good enough. See the problem? 

     I’m not trying to invalidate myself and the fact that, some days, writing words is the most difficult thing on earth. I know Leslie is fictional and her problems are confined to the beautifully solvable three-act structure. It isn’t fair to compare my very real problems to Leslie Knope’s narrative ones. But still. I can’t help but think Leslie would put in at least a bit more effort than I have.

     Since starting my Parks and Rec rewatch, I find myself wondering what Leslie would do in my place. It’s hard to say what Leslie would do with clinical depression and a wounded ego, but the best I think she would definitely try. She would try to keep up with a blog, even if she failed. She would try to write the novel. She would try to keep up with the bookstagram account. She would try her best, regardless of all the ways she could fail. 

     But, because Leslie isn’t here and I am, I’ve had to reevaluate my goals and expectations for myself. Instead of expecting a flawless blog and perfect manuscript right off the bat, I’ve decided that my new goal is to write something every day. Some days it will be a blog post or a chunk of my WIP that I can be proud of. Other days it might be a book review for my bookstagram account. And some days it will be a single, hard-earned sentence that never sees the light of day. And I will do my best to be equally proud of them all.

     I don’t know why, but I feel like that’s what Leslie Knope would do in my shoes, with all my fears and insecurities and hopes and aspirations.

Yours hopefully, 

Miss Breathing