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Lessons Learned from Parks and Rec

The seventh and final season of Parks and Recreation came to an end last week. Whether a day-one fan or a recent binge watcher, these fictional, beautiful musk oxen and tropical fish surely left an indelible mark. As a floundering twenty-something and with graduation right around the corner, this concept of “lasts” prompted some thoughts about all the lessons to be learned from Parks and Rec’s final season.

Caution: spoilers and cheesiness ahead.

1.Take risks and invest in yourself.

Your restaurant turned into a horrible failure, you’re broke and swaggerless, and you have no choice but to narrate a sad biopic about your life in a feigned British accent. Become a best-selling author instead. Success isn’t permanent, but neither is failure.

Taking chances—and not choosing Tyga for your funeral playlist—is what separates the Toms from the Jean-Ralphios. So go for it. Fail. Learn. Grow. Then treat yourself to some Zerts later.

2. Learn to compromise.

Whether ending Johnny Karate so April could relocate and pursue her dreams or choosing not to run for governor so Leslie could achieve hers, Andy and Ben proved that sacrifice can be a beneficial part of a mature, sustainable relationship. If these couples were a team, I’d wear their jerseys more proudly than Andy wearing Reggie Wayne’s.

Whether friends or partners, healthy duos accept each other, learn to understand each other, care for each other, and ceaselessly support each other. Even—and especially—when the going gets tough.

 

3. Distance isn’t damning.

As a soon-to-be-graduate, the idea of being separated by time zones and oceans from my closest friends is terrifying. The season’s time jumps proved that goodbyes are not forever.

So don’t dread distance; instead, look forward to reunions. And never forget where you’re from and the people who made it home. Even if you’re first in friendship and fourth in obesity. Because wherever you are, at least it’s not Eagleton.

 

4. “Anything is possible if you follow your dreams.”

When we first met Andy, his idea of a life upgrade consisted of moving from pit denizen to shoe shiner. In the course of seven seasons, we watched as his dreams transformed from famous musician to hard-hitting police officer until he became a beloved childrens’ show host.

Be patient. It takes time, effort, and the occasional running in underpants to reach your goals. Sometimes your dreams aren’t what you think they are. And sometimes it’s better that way.

 

5. Communication is key.

A mystery spat between Ron and Leslie caused quite the rift between the former friends early in the season. We later learned, catalyzed by Leslie’s inimitable butchering of “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” that its root was Ron’s reluctance to discuss his feelings.

Communication is integral to living a “very good” life.  Open up to people with your problems. Meet them on the other end of that two-way street with open ears. You never know who will be waiting eagerly with equally open arms.

6. It’s okay to not have your life together.

The surly and sassy April evolved from a staunch hater of work, fun, people, and generally everything to a woman of conviction, purpose, and even empathy. This transformation, however, happened neither smoothly nor quickly and not without April considering being a funeral home worker or even a troll.

Okay, you’re not doing what you want to do. Perhaps you don’t even know what that is.

There’s joy in the journey. So be aimless. One day you will find a Leslie to spark the flames of passion in you. Or maybe you will ignite them yourself.

 

The series finale of Parks and Rec was the saddest thing to happen since the death of Li’l Sebastian. These characters and their friendships, failures, and foibles will be missed in the saddest fashion.

So thank you, Parks and Recreation. We like you and we love you.

What did you learn from Parks and Recreation’s seventh season?

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