I’m going to rant a bit, but I feel I make a good point, so stick with me.
Have you ever gotten a participation trophy?
If you ever played any kind of sport as a child, you may have. I played little league tee ball one year… at least I think I did; I’m not entirely sure that little league tee ball is a thing. I’m going to assume that since it was the early 80s that it was a thing, and move on. Long story short, I got a trophy for playing a game that I honestly don’t remember playing at all. I don’t think I even went to many games, much less practices. You can probably tell that I didn’t really care about it that much. Even as a small boy, I wasn’t a person that wanted to engage in sporting activities. I wasn’t any good at sports, and that alone was enough to make me not want to get involved.
And I got a trophy for that.
Early on in life I was taught that all I had to do was show up, and I’d be rewarded. Had I not been disenfranchised at an early age, that might have gone to my head. Also, I was born just in time to catch the tail end of the Generation X membership window. I’m a young Gen-Xer and I think that the institution of rewarding children simply for being alive was just starting to really catch on as I was realizing that Super Mario Brothers was way more fun than being outside in the blazing sun using my stupid imagination. Generation Y came along and soaked up every bit of that “you’re special because you’re you” crap, and as a result, they’re probably the absolute worst generation of people the country has ever seen. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule… but for the most part, Gen Y, you suck and we all hate you.
Woody Allen is a… see, I don’t want to call him a filmmaker because I think he’s awful at everything he’s ever done. Um… Woody Allen is a person that is associated with film. Stage, too. You’re probably already familiar with him, or his name at the very least. If you’re not, this might ring a bell… one of the most famous quotes on success is attributed to him.
“80 percent of success is showing up.”
Can you imagine that? 80% of being successful at something is based on nothing more than you simply being there. Now, of course, any adult will tell you this is clearly 3.7 tons of premium horse shit. It takes hard work, dedication, and a willingness to sell out almost all of your ideals to become a success. ‘Tis the way of the world! You don’t get a participation trophy at work. When I was in grade school, you could earn a certificate for perfect attendance. Don’t miss too many days, and you get an award! You’ve done a remarkable thing just by showing up, and you will be duly recognized for it!
In real life, if you don’t miss too many days of work, your reward is that they let you keep working.
99% of the time, if you don’t win… well…
You know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a good lesson to learn. I think that as we raise our kids, they desperately need to learn that particular lesson. You’re not going to earn any points just by walking in the door. You’re not owed anything. There’s always someone that’s working a lot harder than you are for a lot less than you are. What you can do is appreciate that instead of feeling like the world should hand you something because you decided to set foot on it. It’s our job as parents to prepare kids for the real world, and after all, they don’t give out participation raises.