The Unexpected Way Participation Trophies Helped Millennials and the World

Millennials get a lot of flack for being the “entitled” participation trophy generation. If you’re a member of an older generation and you hate us, I’d like to first remind you that often what we hate in others is a reflection of what we don’t like about ourselves. 

Maybe you’re a Gen Xer, a Baby Boomer, or a member of the Greatest Generation, and you feel guilty because you realize we didn’t give those participation trophies to ourselves.

But you can let go of the guilt because those participation trophies actually helped us, and they are helping us make a difference in the world.

You see, we learned early on that trophies don’t mean anything. If everybody gets a trophy, the trophy means nothing. You successfully ingrained in us that our value doesn’t come from winning, being the best, or having the most shiny stuff.

So we’re not after the corner office with the view. We don’t need to one up our neighbors with a more expensive car, bigger pool, or adding on to our house. 

When you understand who you are and your intrinsic value, you are free to stop performing and start living, loving, and changing the world. (Hmm...that sounds a lot like the Gospel message weaved all throughout the Bible.)

So instead of having the fanciest designer clothes, we’d rather support businesses who use sustainable practices, treat their employees well, and pay them a living wage. 

You didn’t just teach us our worth and value, you taught us empathy. 

So when you see us crying after an election, or meeting together in a safe space, it’s not because you raised us to be weak. It’s because you raised us to care.

We took you seriously with your anti-bullying campaigns, “I’m okay, you’re okay,” “Heal the World” videos, and images of children holding hands around the world. And we’re confident that this way of living isn’t just for the playground and classroom, it’s for the way we all interact with each other in the world—on a personal, social, economic, and political scale.

We believed you when you said we can be anything we want to be, and do anything we want to do. And the thing that we, on the whole, want to do is make the world a better place. And we’re doing it.

You gave us a voice and taught us it matters. You showed us our value, and taught us to care. You can relax, you did a great job!

Maybe our lives don’t look like yours did when you were our age. But the world is a different place, and a college education doesn’t produce the same guaranteed results it once did. But that’s OK because you taught us to think critically and solve problems—like what to do about the massive student loan debt problem. 

Your generation raised our generation to change the world. And we thank you.