Everywhere you look, especially on social media, you can find anyone and everyone whining about our “entitled, selfish, safe space loving, immature, etc.” millennial generation. Especially Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers. Everyone has something to say about how my generation is trash. Well, I beg to differ. Completely. But I am not here to address all your comments, I am here to address one specifically: Participation Trophies.
Ah yes, the source of all Millennial entitlement. We were never taught about winners and losers because everyone got a ribbon. We never had to earn anything so now we feel entitled to absolutely everything. All because of the participation trophies. Yep, you solved it. This generation is fucked. Guess you better hope the next one is better.
W R O N G.
Let’s break this down, starting with the trophies themselves. Let’s assume that we are speaking about Millennials in college. That means that they were born in the nineties. Totally rad. Now, that means that Boomers and Gen X’ers raised them. Last time I checked, children weren’t raising children. I grew up with participation trophies. I have ribbons from soccer and baseball tournaments that weren’t really tournaments. Personally, I hated them. Once I figured out what a participation ribbon was, I absolutely dreaded it. It meant “Better luck next year, kid! You lost.” But the thing is, I never asked for one. Now, do kids have fragile egos and need some explanation as to why they didn’t get the shiny little round thing? Yeah, sometimes. But maybe, have you thought about actually parenting your child rather than handing them a meaningless strip of cloth to placate them? Whoa. What a magical thought! The point is, participation trophies stem from the fact that Boomers and Gen X’ers couldn’t be bothered to explain to their five year olds what competition was. You were too busy trying to avoid conflict that you tried to take the easy way out. Guess that one bit you on the ass, now didn’t it?
Now, let’s talk about the entitlement factor. How did these little pieces of cloth that our parents gave us lead to us being lazy and entitled? Show me that timeline please. Was it instant? The second you handed me my ribbon on the soccer field I thought to myself “I shouldn’t have to work for anything ever again. I should just be a millionaire overnight!”? I think not. If anything, participation trophies made me more competitive and hardworking. I, and many many many more Millennials, am an incredibly hardworking person. Since I turned sixteen I have held at least one steady job. Most of the time holding two or three while being a full-time student. In short, I bust my ass. In fact, to quote Eli Pope from Scandal, I work “twice as hard for half as much.” If your definition of entitlement is me expecting to pay for college without drowning myself or my family in debt, well I guess I’m entitled. If your definition of entitlement is the fact that I expect to have a job after I finish getting my degrees, well I guess I’m entitled. If your definition of entitlement is me expecting to be able to buy food after I work 40+ hours a week, then I guess I am freaking entitled. I see this ethic in more Millennials than not. You sit there and judge us by our material items or the way we document our lives on social media, but you forget that we bust our ass for the decent car we drive or we are using our media platforms to share things with friends we don’t get to see because we are too busy working.
If you want to talk about entitlement, then let’s talk about some of the exception to the previous statement. There are Millennials, just like every previous generation, that feel entitled to having everything while putting in zero effort. Those people piss me off just like they piss you off. But that’s still on your generation more than mine. You raised those kids. You want to be pissed about people like them? Then call out your own generation.
Let’s talk about what Millennials are. Millennials are: hard working, involved, resilient, socially and politically involved, and they are passionate. Stop projecting your fear of change and your fear of failure onto us. Every time you put us down is a time that we will fight back. Don’t forget that in just a few short years our generation will running for office and making the decisions. So, if you still think that Millennials are entitled, needy, and whiny, well, I know somewhere where you can shove that participation trophy.