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Things I Wish I'd Known Before Prom Night

Things I Wish I'd Known Before Prom Night

“Prom isn’t about eating dry chicken and dancing to 'Livin’ On a Prayer,' it’s about best friends,” Fiona Coyne says this in the prom episode of Degrassi in 2011. Oh man, prom. That sounded amazing. Well, it sounded amazing to 2011 middle school-me. I spent the majority of my pre-teen years inebriated by high hopes for prom that later proved to be false. People, at least at my school, don’t wear long ballgowns to junior prom; instead they opt for short party dresses (perks of living in the Bay Area during spring). People don’t necessarily go to prom just to enjoy prom, but more as something to suffer through to finally be able to go to the afterparty (at mine, nearly everyone left at 9:15 when doors were reopened, though prom didn’t end at 10).

I know I probably sound very glass half-empty right now, but I promise you, there’s a flipside to this. Every time I think back to the night of April 16th, 2016, I remember all of the lessons—both happy and unhappy—that I learned between the hours of 5:30 pm to 3 am. So to the somewhat confused girl out there that is somewhat excited or nervous or scared for prom, it’s gonna be OK. Godspeed, baby.

The happiest moments are never the ones you expect to happen. The best moment of junior prom was easily right after it ended and I ran into my old friend from middle school who I hadn’t talked to in years. He suggested that we, my date, and two best friends go get Slurpees for the hell of it. We ended up just driving around for 20 minutes with all the windows down and screaming along to the radio. This is easily one of my favorite high school memories (so far), and it was completely unplanned.

Do what you want to do. If I could go back, this would be the most important thing I would tell my 16 year old self. Wanna go to that afterparty? Do it! (Be safe!) Still like that dress despite other people’s less-than-favorable opinion? Buy that dress and work it; it’s your body, choice, and your night. Yes, I was struck with these two scenarios and I still curse myself for going against what I wanted.

I didn’t have high expectations going into prom. When it ended, I branded it as “one of the worst nights of high school,” but that’s far from what I think almost a year later. There were some less than stellar moments, but also some great ones. Instead of junior prom being some memorable and amazing night, it ended up being a learning experience. I learned to love the months of finding “the perfect dress.” I learned to appreciate getting to know new people; I’m nostalgic for the happiness I felt when I hung out with my date more and realized how cool he was. I miss the beautiful sunset and warm April weather that Saturday night when my entire prom group took pictures.

Prom may not have been as glamorous as I imagined when I was 11, but it was still amazing—Splurpees and all.

By Irine Le, 17

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