So this topic has dropped on my twitter a few times recently so I wanted to get some stuff off my chest while I procrastinate other, probably more important, work. Let me say this first – this is an opinion piece, one written with a bit of a bone to pick with no one in particular rather a sentiment that I’ve seen a lot and honestly don’t agree with.
Take it as you will. If you don’t think you fulfill the niche I’m bitching about, good on you. If you’re reading this and getting pissed perhaps I hit a nerve.
I’m fucking sick of hearing about “participation trophies”. Flat out, I’m just fucking sick of it.
I had a closet full of the fuckers, ribbons, trophies, some huge ones that were nearly legitimate. Trophies were completely overblown in that day and age and apparently still are. I remember my third place pinewood derby trophy being like a foot and a half tall. Just showing up got you a six inch tall one.
It was insane.
You’d sneeze and get trophies.
Growing up I remember once not getting some sort of reward for trying. When I was in karate, like all good 90s kids, I was turned down to attempt getting my yellow belt. I remember not being in karate for much longer after that. But that was it. That was the only “real life lesson” I’d get until, essentially, I was in real life during my twenties.
The thing is I was in elementary and middle school when this was happening. I wasn’t a whiny brat. I wasn’t crying or even really wanting any of these damn things. It was the institution. They were being thrust into our faces. Whole scam award/distinction industries like Who’s Who popped up in this time frame. People were literally PAYING to have their kids rewarded.
Meanwhile our schools just churned over and over, trying to make sure we all kept together now. Again – we were kids. We didn’t go to PTA meetings. We didn’t vote for school board. We didn’t have any fucking say in any of this. These were the institutions that already exists and we were forced to cope with.
So when Millennials began growing up and moving on, suddenly the tone changed. Suddenly we were entitled little brats and those fucking trophies, those trophies that had been forced into our hands by the adults in our lives were exhibit “a” in a case closed before it was opened. I’m not sure any of us consented to the system, I mean we enjoyed it, but we were little kids, of course we loved getting stuff. But we were also smart enough to understand that we didn’t need them or even really deserved them.
When I wasn’t selected to move on to yellow belt I didn’t cry, I didn’t scream, I understood I hadn’t put the work in and didn’t deserve it. I felt like shit, because the instructor was publicly calling this shit out, but I got it. I understood. Kids are smarter than most adults give them credit for. Kids are hardier than most adults give them credit for.
They aren’t the participation trophy generation.
Their parents are.
Their parents were the one handing them out. Their parents were the ones yelling at the teachers and not the kids. Their parents were the ones who needed the gratification of raising winning kids without the effort to raise kids that win. And so it was passed on to us, unwitting and innocent, until we were old enough for the very same people handing us trophies to turn on us and complain that we were entitled, couldn’t handle ‘no’, couldn’t stand up to the challenges of real life, removed from reality.
And honestly, with facebook and the rise of parenting for likes and retweets it is only going to get worse.
But don’t blame the kids. Don’t blame the kids dragged across the stage at first grade graduation. Don’t blame the kids having trophies and awards and ribbons thrust into their little, grubby hands by the very adults who then turn around and bitch about how we’re the entitled generation.
I think I speak for a huge number of Millennials when I say “if sending you all my trophies back will shut you up; what’s the address?” I don’t want them (never did), I don’t need them (never will), and you won’t shut the fuck up about them.
And I hope Millennials did learn a lesson, on how not to treat the generation after us.
O. Wait. Before I go.
Go fuck yourself with the wide end of a rake.