Real Talk: Prom is Fun, But Not the Most Important Night of Your Life

Prom has turned into a business. We see depictions of “the perfect prom night” in movies and television all the time. I worry it makes teenagers feel like if they don’t have THE BEST PROM EVER they’ve missed out on a crucial moment in their young adult lives.

It’s simply not true.

Look, prom can be a fun thing. I’ve written about prom hair and prom makeup, so I’ve got nothing against prom. I want you to know though, about my prom experience — how everything that could have gone wrong, did — and why it prom isn’t worth stressing over.

I decided to go, somewhat begrudgingly, to my junior prom. I went to an all girls high school, so I didn’t know many boys. The one boy I wanted to go with was on the verge of being suspended from his school, so he couldn’t go with me. My friend Kelly was kind enough to set me up with one of her friends. I met him on prom night.

I went dress shopping and couldn’t find anything I liked, so I settled on my mom’s Elie Tahari suit with a string of pearls, a giant Carrie Bradshaw-type flower pin, and a $20 black striped bustier-style top. The night I put on my outfit, I immediately regretted not having a dress, but it was too late.

Then, my hair stylist/makeup artist showed up. Utterly devastated. She’d broken up with her fiancé the night before but didn’t want to cancel on me. So she proceeded to drink an entire bottle of wine while doing my hair and makeup, trying not to cry the entire time.

I felt for her, I did, but let’s just say, I was not too happy with my hair and makeup.

Then, my friend Kelly called. Her date couldn’t come because he landed an acting gig (classic LA problems). So this meant we had to share a date.

By the time we all piled into the limo to get to my friend’s house, I was so over the whole thing.

As for the prom itself, it was…fine. I saw my friends, we danced, we ate, and I was home by 11.

When I got the photos back, I was so disappointed. I hated how I looked, I hated that my date couldn’t be there, I hated the whole thing. Now I look back on those photos and smile.

I opted not to go to senior prom. I can’t remember what I did instead.

So it really just goes to show that prom isn’t that big of a deal. Some people don’t go to prom, and that’s just fine. If you don’t want to go to prom, don’t feel pressured to go; and if you go, don’t feel pressured to make it The Biggest Night Of Your Life. Some people are home schooled and don’t even have a prom option. And they did just fine without it.

If you go to prom, do not stress about your dress (or suit!), hair, makeup, date, anything — just go and have fun. It’s just a party. There will be so many more parties in your life. If you miss it, don’t feel bad. You’re not missing the most important night of your life. The most important night of your life is whatever you make it. Maybe it’s a random Tuesday night when you were feeling down and your friends dragged you out for a great adventure. Maybe it’s your wedding night. Maybe it’s your first night away from home, at college, meeting new people and feeling strange. It’s all wonderful and it’s all yours ahead of you.

So enjoy prom, but don’t make it everything, and don’t take it too seriously.

What was your prom experience?

Photo credit: LindsayLohan, and my mom.