Why I’m Happy I Never Went to My High School Prom

Prom was on my radar well before high school began. The first time it hit me that this event was on the horizon was in the eighth grade when my Dad brought home a copy of the local paper the Riverfront Times and threw it in my lap as I sat reading one day after school. “There’s an article about your future high school in there,” he said, “They’re a little worried about their prom.”

I read the article and immediately started laughing. A lot. I chased my Dad around the house and would tell anyone within earshot about the woes of a bunch of 18-year-old Catholic high schoolers terrified that this year’s prom wouldn’t have a sufficient enough budget for streamers. Lots of close up photos of the pensive looking students were included.

At the time, I thought it was the funniest thing I had read in my entire life. And it was in that moment I knew I would never attend my high school prom.

I have a lot of issues with prom because I hate the hype that surrounds it. It’s like a starter marriage for high school kids. At my high school, this was especially true because in your junior year you bought your ‘junior ring’ (which was basically your class ring) and went to a dance themed off of that ring. Senior year was all about the prom in May and all of the magic leading up to that most holy of high school events. On your prom, you’d get all dressed up and get your nails and hair done. At some point, glitter would be involved. You’d wind up ditching the heels midway through the night to dance and then get dirty feet on the floor. You’d pose for a semi-awkward and maybe-it’s-love photo with your date together showing off your class ring and you’d order 50 million prints because Instagram and Hipstamatic didn’t exist yet. The DJ would definitely make you dance to that “to the left now, y’all! Slide to the left!” song and you’d see some faculty members dancing together that maybe you didn’t want to see there and if you had been drinking, you’d obviously pre-gamed beforehand because these dances were armed with Breathalyzers. And maybe you’d like it when it was over and you’d be happy. Or maybe it would suck and your date would abandon you for someone else and you’d sit at a table quietly upset that you spent $200 on a ticket and had a crappy night.

My theory on prom is pretty much the same as my theory on how I want my own marriage to go down: unless there’s an open bar with Girl Talk as the DJ and I can control who I want to have attend, I’m not interested.  My decision in not attending prom didn’t change as the years went on in high school. Instead of an engraved Jostens class ring, I went with a vintage pearl cluster ring from my Grandma. I didn’t buy a senior class t-shirt and wore my full-on uniform on that dress down day. I also fake-cried a bunch to get out of attending some senior chapel assembly at a school, like, 20 miles away but that’s a story for another time. Basically, I didn’t do a damn thing during this time that made me behave like a red-blooded teenage girl in prom season. I worked a lot at my two restaurant jobs. I didn’t care what the season’s best perfect dresses were or the best places in the city to get a mani/pedi at. It surprised quite a few people. I know they expected me to blow a paycheck on a Jessica McClintock dress, but it just wasn’t happening. I genuinely cared about a lot of things in high school, but prom wasn’t on that list. Not even close.

I know you’re dying to know if anyone asked me to prom and yes, I did get asked. The guy who asked me I had never spoken more than 5 words to in my entire life either. He came up to me at my locker one morning when I got to homeroom early and asked me there and I remember blushing horribly as I hastily tried to be nice in saying no and explaining why I didn’t like prom. It all came out of my mouth like this, “I don’t want to go with you – I mean, I’m not going. I don’t like prom. I hate it actually.”

It’s as awkward as it sounds, I promise.

And yes, I was also truly pissed off that the cute guy who sat directly across from me in my trig class that I was friends with went with this junior girl instead of me. Clearly I slipped in the cracks as being “just friends” with that one. But even if he had asked me, I would have probably said no still. I think. Lemme take a moment to remember the hatred of splitting a limo with 13 other people and not even being anywhere close to that prom queen nomination list – yep, that’s still a no!

On the night of my prom, I was cleaning out the clogged up sink at Subway and for whatever reason, my coworker found out that it was my prom night and I was at work. “What are you still doing here?” He asked me, “It’s prom night! You have to go!”

Like a fairy godmother would magically appear in the lobby with a Hummer and a hair straightener. “It’s okay,” I told him, “I didn’t want to go.”

“Why?” He asked.

I just shrugged, “I just don’t. I never wanted to go.”

To this day, rejecting prom was a personal triumph in my book. It was so unlike me and my personality that I embraced it even more. A lot of people will make you believe that prom is the most important dance/outing that you can attend but that’s definitely not how it worked out for me. I salute any young lady or gentleman who decides to skip the prom in favor of something else, be it work or a different outing that strikes more of their fancy. Or even staying in to watch a marathon of Arrested Development episodes – um, can I join you on that one? Do what your gut tells you, not your graduating high school class and senior class advisors.

There will be plenty of time in life left to enjoy dancing to old BSB and Usher songs. This is a fact.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jess.bender Jess Bender

    I didn’t feel like spending hundreds of dollars on a night that I wasn’t really looking forward to anyway. Instead, me and two of my best gal pals headed to NYC, hit up the Museum of Modern Art for free and ate the fanciest pizza we could find. It was one of the best nights of my high school career.

  • http://www.facebook.com/abarrios24 Andrea Barrios

    I didn’t go to my high school prom either, though I can’t really remember what I did instead. During high school I hardly attended any school dances. It wasn’t really my scene. I tried it a few times at the behest of a few “friends” and hated it. Then I figured it was stupid to spend money to go to dances that played music I hated and hang with people I didn’t really like or have much in common with. My sentiments about school dances become common knowledge among friends and acquaintances by the middle of sophomore year, so by the time Prom came around no one had bugged me about school dances for quite some time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amanda.milke Amanda Milke

    I didn’t go to prom either. I also didn’t have much school spirit. I went to homecoming a couple times, and I figured prom was just going to be a slightly fancier version of that. It didn’t seem worth all the effort to me so I just didn’t feel like going.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2200297 Angie Marie

    I never wanted to go to my prom either. Someone who peaked in high school told me, “You’ll regret it your whole life!” I told her if missing my senior prom is my biggest,or one of my biggest regrets in life, I have more problems than that I need to work out. At almost 27, I’m still waiting for that guaranteed regret…wait, maybe…? Nope, still don’t regret it. Great article!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.g.nevin Joseph Nevin

    I didn’t go to my prom because I went to another prom on the same night with a girl from a different high school. That was bad enough…she had no interest in me whatsoever, and it was my birthday too…one of my worst. My only regret is actually going to any prom. I just recently sold my (Jostens) class ring, which was collecting dust in a drawer for about 15 years, to a cash for gold place: $300! Way better than prom!

  • http://www.facebook.com/beereelee Abbie Currie Lee

    I never went to prom either because I left my high school and almost didn’t graduate. To be honest, even if I had been at school I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway. But I still have prom dreams and I usually can’t find a dress. One of my dreams had Julie Andrews helping me pick out a dress. We ended up making it out of curtains and everyone was jealous as to how awesome it was.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melissaraeb Melissa Rae Brown

    I also skipped prom, and it was one of the best nights ever! I spent the day at the beach with some of my best friends taking pictures and drinking giant cherry slushies! we went to the theatre to see a horrible movie, and we pigged out on french bread and grapes, pretending we were fancy.

    however, sometimes i am sad i was such a scrooge about prom. a boy i really liked asked me, and i had never gotten a chance to dress up for anything before. but if i went back in time and told my teenage self i would later wish i had gone, i would laugh in my own face.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1481827050 Crystal Sawyer

    I did not go either. My 2 best friends & I took the money for hair, nails, & dreses etc, & went to Busch Gardens (a theme park here in VA) & we splurged on lunch, & other various theme park necessities. & we got to wear shorts & flip flops!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessica.dreyer Jessica Dreyer

    I respect your point of view, and your taking interest in other things besides prom while in the insular world of high school. But it really seems like the tone of your article is disparaging anyone who actually did take the slightest interest in their high school prom. I did want to go, and I did go – not with my ideal date, not in a limo with people I disliked, but with my best friends in my friend’s mom’s minivan. And we did dance barefoot, and I definitely ripped my dress doing so. But I enjoyed it, and I don’t regret for a second deciding to go. No need to mock everyone else for buying into the “hype” if they just want to have a good time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ChefBrownie3488 Erin Elizabeth Davis

    I went to my prom, but it sucked! I did skip out on my homecoming dance to have a double date at home watching movies and vegging out. Never cared to get the class ring or spend my money on anything that I really didn’t care about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hilary.a.holden Hilary Holden

    Thank you for your article! I went to my senior prom and it was an awful experience! First, I didn’t have a date. I had gotten up the nerve to ask the guy I’d had a crush on all year and after telling me he’d “think about it”, he turned me down because he didn’t want to shell out the cash. So I went with my BFF/Adopted sis instead. Second, I was getting over an awful cold and still couldn’t really exert myself without getting totally winded. So dancing a lot was out. Third, I’d had a falling out with the group of girls I had hung out with for almost all of my high school tenure (still don’t know what that was about), so me and the BFF were basically by ourselves for the evening. So, after an hour, we cut out of there and went downtown to see a movie in our prom dresses. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one that thinks it’s an over-hyped waste of time!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JacquelynJoan Jacquelyn Joan

    Love this! I didn’t go either. People kept telling me I’d regret it, but it’s been 6 years and that’s just never gonna happen. Prom is a huge waste of money. I don’t even like the same music as my peers and the food always stinks at those kinds of things. No thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000072752345 Megan Scott

    I’m not planning to go to mine, after seeing how much effort and money my sister put in, and how stressed she got leading up to it put me off. Though it does look like fun, I don’t think its my kind of thing 😀

  • http://www.facebook.com/pinkgrapefruits87 Lauren Nespoli

    I was very hesitant to go to my prom. Then someone told me that years later I might regret not going, but I probably wouldn’t regret going (although, it’s possible that I would during the prom! haha). So I listened to that advice and went, and I actually had a good time. I didn’t go to my junior prom, so I figured I should go to one and give it a try! I didn’t go overboard with stuff though. i had a gift certificate to get my hair done and I did my makeup and nails myself. I got a nice dress and shoes, and chipped in for the limo, but we didn’t go out afterwards or anything. I don’t think prom is for everyone though, so if you didn’t go and you had just as much fun then that’s great too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/holtz42 Trudy Holtz

    hey, i had fun at mine. but i helped with the decorating (it was vegas themed) and our prom was all about interesting arrivals. my friends and i build and rode in a pvc pipe and silver foil UFO. we didn’t even have prom king or queen. all told, the dinner and show thing was crap, the music was uninspired, but man, building that UFO and an MGM lion people could walk under was some kinda fun.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1564429374 Alexandra Cuzzo

    I had a ton of fun at my prom! One of my best friends won prom queen, we took pictures on a bridge lit with fairy lights, I danced like a bafoon and a huge group of people stayed at my friend’s cabin that weekend and we par-tayed. It was one of my favorite weekends in high school.

    Also, prom was the reason I got properly fitted for bras. So. Thanks, prom!

  • http://www.facebook.com/acabeyta Angela Abeyta

    Same here. Too expensive, I only had a few close friends in high school, didn’t like dancing, and hated the popular music at the time. So my friends and I planned an “alterna-prom” instead in which we dressed up, went out to a restaurant, and to a friend’s house afterwards to play Apples to Apples and Taboo. Saved so much money and had a much better time than if I had gone to the real thing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1219299157 Kaylee Roemer

    I never went to my prom. I never planned on going, but everyone would tell me how I would regret it for the rest of my life. While I do have a fear of regret I was pretty sure I’d be fine. There was no way I was going to spend that much money to spend the night dancing with a bunch of people I spent almost everyday with and didn’t even like. I’m now 24 and still if prom gets mentioned and I say I didn’t go I get a shocked looked and a “How could you not go?”. Yet I continue to live prom regret free.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberlynappi Kimberly Nappi

    At my school, prom was a big deal, but after-prom was even bigger. Every year, everyone would drive off to Seaside Heights, NJ (yes, the Jersey Shore city) and rent a few houses for the weekend. They’d get super drunk/high/dead/whatever, and it took THE ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR for them to plan it all. And they were obsessed with it! Who was staying in which house, who was buying what, whose parents were going to help rent the houses, it was insane.
    So yeah, I went to two proms and had fun, but instead of spending a weekend in what was exactly like the Jersey Shore house, I went to Manhattan with my friends and we spent the day having whatever fun adventures came up. Definitely more fun than puking onto a beer pong table.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shannah.goss Shannah Goss

    I kind of regret that I went both junior and senior year. Neither year was very fun. But my school also didn’t charge $200 per ticket either! Small town.

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