Why Everybody Should Shut Up About Participation Trophies
Why did it become trendy for every blogger, TV show, movie script writer, comedian and valedictorian to talk about participation trophies as the epitome of everything that's wrong with America? I love Millennials bashing as much as the next non-Millennial -- truly -- but participation trophies are awesome.
Why am I so arrogant as to believe the whole world is wrong? Because everyone often is when hating something is trendy. Remember the McDonald's coffee burn grandma? How about that meme going around now calling people who properly zipper into a traffic jam a**holes?
I am a successful, responsible adult making contributions to society and participation trophies made a hugely positive impact on my upbringing.
- They didn't teach me everyone's a winner (and therefore no one is). They taught me you're a winner for being a contender. For having the courage to compete and risking your dignity.
- They didn't give me an over-inflated self-esteem. They gave me assurance that leaders appreciated me showing up and giving 100%.
- I didn't grow up thinking I was a special snowflake. I grew up believing it was OK to fail, to look like a fool, to intend to win but end up a loser because at the end people who loved me would still say, "I'm proud of you."
- Nobody taught me losing was OK. But I did learn that in life for some people to win some people must lose. There must be losers in love, in employment, in real estate -- and therefore we must all take our turn losing. That doesn't mean we're a loser, it means we took our turn and we need to get up and get back in the contest.
- I didn't grow up feeling entitled. I grew up feeling loved and supported knowing I had a social safety net. Real failure would never defeat me because those same parents, coaches and friends had my back.
So forgive me for believing you're better off today because no one ever handed you a trophy for trying. The world is not a cruel, cold place where you must fight for everything you get. It's a village where people take care of one another and being an adult means taking risks and believing you'll be supported and rewarded for them.