So in case you haven’t figured it out, I really like The Office. Like a lot.
A few months ago I did a post on lessons I’ve learned since graduating from college (with a little help from The Office) and before that, lessons I learned from Pam Halpert.
Now, I want to write about a few things I learned from Jim.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Jim’s pranks are definitely one of the highlights of the show. In addition to the comedic value, they are also good reminders not to take ourselves too seriously and to find humor even in our (sometimes mundane) daily lives.
Don’t let fear stop you from going after what you want.
At the center of the series, Jim and Pam’s relationship is one of my all-time fictional favorites (I know they’re not real. I know that). Of course, initially the conflict lied in Pam’s engagement to Roy while she and Jim clearly had feelings for each other. Finally, right at the end of season 2 Jim finally tells Pam how he feels about her. Confessing to a close friend and co-worker who is engaged to another person that you’re in love with them is a pretty gutsy thing to do. But as we learn from Pam breaking off her engagement to Roy, taking risks can pay off. And even when they don’t we shouldn’t allow fear of failure to prevent us from going after what we want. What if Jim had never told Pam how he felt? We have a lot more to lose from letting fear determine our decisions.
Don’t worry too much about what other people think.
Something else I very much admire about Jim is his evident lack of concern for what others think. He says pretty bluntly how he feels, stays out of the affairs of others and keeps his focus on what is really important to him. I know how easy it can be to get sidetracked by what we think we should be doing or what we think others think we should be doing but I think we have to decide what is important to us without the input of others and keep our focus on those things.
Based on how he feels about his job, you wouldn’t think of Jim as a passionate person. But if you look outside of that you see how much time and effort he puts into those things that are important to him. His pranks on Dwight (I mean, they get pretty extensive…remember Asian Jim?), his relationship with Pam and later on his new job in sports marketing. Even if your job isn’t something you wake up excited about, finding those things that do excite you and making time for them is important to our overall happiness and well-being.
I think one of the reasons The Office had so much success was because of how real it felt. It was so easy to relate to Jim’s frustration with his job or Pam’s insecurity about herself and her future. We had insight into these character’s ordinary lives and saw the beauty and value of it. Even in the ordinary moments of Jim’s (James? Jimothy?) day-to-day, we see how much he grows and all there is to learn from his seemingly average life.