What Michael Scott and Eleanor Oliphant Taught Me About Life

In light of recent events, (That being the Netflix announcement that it will removeThe Office from their streaming platform next year) I have decided to reflect on two fictional characters that have been teaching me a lot as I navigate my 20s (one of them being Michael Scott). In my opinion there is much to learn and pull from when we look at the characters pop culture has given us:

Call me crazy but I’ve learned a lot of life lessons from Michael Scott. Most of the time he taught me exactly what not to do in a plethora of situations- but he also taught me ideas to be valued. Maybe that makes me a little cooky but bear with me for a moment- while his actions are extreme, his ultimate longing is for human connection.

A few months ago I wrapped up an excellent book: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. It took me awhile to really enjoy this novel as the Reese Witherspoon quote on the cover is very misleading ( I cried way more than I laughed). Yet once I reached the final page I found myself moved and inspired. For those who don’t know: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a novel about a mid 30s woman navigating life and career. She comes across stand offish and rude to many but deep down really wants connection. A lot has happened in her life to make her the way she is and many who surround her do not take the time to learn about who she truly is. I believe she shares a lot in common with our dear Michael Scott.

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Where this story broke my heart was a section where Eleanor talks about hair cuts (I won’t be spoiling any major plot details but if you like to go into a book blind- come back and read this bit later) She describes what it is like to get a haircut, go to the doctor, etc. Eleanor talks about how it feels to simply have a human touch her- and how it feels so foreign, since those are the only moments she has any physical contact. Reading this broke my heart and also reminded me that I should really hug those I love a lot more.

This section of the book reminded me of the time Michael Scott vents to Kelly about all the left over guacamole he has to throw out (due to nobody showing up to his parties). Yes this part is humorous (as well as understandable as to why people don’t attend his parties) but it makes me feel for him. He wants community and connection more than anything.

So what have Michael Scott and Eleanor Oliphant taught me about life? They’ve taught me that people are so simple yet so complicated at the same time. While many of us require others to peel back many layers before we open up- at our core is a longing to be loved. We long to be seen and to be understood. The point of all this is not for me to tell you to go around being friends with everyone- because that’s impossible. The point I want to bring home is this- are we doing all we can to try and understand those around us? I encourage you to pause and reflect on this- no one is perfect but there is always more we can do to make life richer.