My senior prom was a letdown, and that’s totally fine

We’ve been programmed to see prom as one of the be-all, end-alls of our high school experiences. We’re supposed to dress up, parade around the gym, and dance the night away before heading to some sort of after party that apparently lasts all weekend. TV has convinced us that prom has to be spectacular and perfect, or it just isn’t worth it.

I’m here to tell you that that’s simply not true.

In high school, I barely attended any dances. Chalk it up to being a “chubby” girl that no one really paid attention to until post-high school. Once I’d missed my third dance, I decided it didn’t really matter to me. But for some reason, when it came to prom, I became strangely worried about missing out on one of the biggest, most “important” high school experiences.

A friend of mine did end up asking me to prom, and I felt this weird weight fall off my shoulders. I looked for the perfect dress online, and my date and I joined up with another group of students, hoping for the best. It was going to be great!

Only it wasn’t.

My group was a hodge-podge of people that weren’t exactly my friends, my dress looked great on the thin 5’10 model but not on my thick 5’2 frame, and my hair looked like a bad ’90s updo.

My date wasn’t much of a dancer, and didn’t even really try to dance, so that made things super awkward. Not to mention that by the end of the night, he tried to hook up with my best friend!

I opted to head home instead of sticking around for the weekend’s events, and that’s where I took a really great nap and didn’t feel like I was missing out at all.

So my dress didn’t fit, and I didn’t like the way I looked. Welp, I’ve owned plenty of dresses that make me love my body since then. My date wasn’t great. But who cares? I didn’t party all weekend, but had lots of fun in college.

Prom is meant to be this big thing that we think about “for the rest of our lives” — but honestly, I hadn’t even thought about it until I saw an Instagram prom makeup tutorial the other day.

So, no. You might not wistfully tell your children and grandchildren about your prom one day. Sometimes, that night in high school is just a collection of mishaps and awkwardness, and you try to make the best of it.

I remember reading an essay a few years ago by a woman who relates her anxiety back to having not gone to her prom. To me, it just really isn’t that serious. If you don’t go to prom, it’s okay. It isn’t the only thing you’ll take with you once you leave high school. You’ll take the friends you made over those four years. Not all of them, mind you, but the important ones will stay with you.

Prom is one night in your life that doesn’t decide anything other than who gets to wear a crown. There will be days and nights of much more importance later on. I promise.