Why I Chose Not to Go to My Senior Prom

Whenever I mention the fact that I’m not attending my senior year prom, most of my received responses are, “You’re not going to your senior prom?” or, “Why wouldn’t you want to go to prom?” and, “You’ll regret not going to your senior prom.” Given this is the second prom I’ve missed for a total of zero proms attended for my high school career, I don’t feel like I’m missing much.


Prom is something that you look forward to since the age of twelve. It is a glorious event, glamorized by Hollywood as the popular boy falls in love with the not-so-popular girl. Prom is a social tradition expected to be followed by each generation.

But since when have I followed tradition?

Prom or “The Prom” as some call it, is not at all what it used to be. A dark room filled with hot, sweaty teenagers, grinding on each other to loud dubstep music is prom. Mia, you might ask, you’ve never been to prom, so how would you know what it’s like? Because I’ve been to formal dances, I’ve seen the pictures, and I have friends.

In fact, after asking 13 people the question “Did your best prom memory actually happen at prom?” only four people said that, yes, their best memory did happen at the prom; as for the rest of the people, they agreed that, “The actual prom is the worst part.” According to them, best memories made at prom happen at dinner before or the 2 a.m. breakfast at so-and-so’s house afterwards. Some of my friends have even made a point to say that they only spend an hour to an hour and a half at prom.

So why would I pay fifty dollars for a ticket to something that I’m not going to want to stay at for the whole night?

Because it’s tradition, they tell me. Because you can never relive your senior prom, they insist. But, on my death bed, am I going to be replaying memories from my time at prom or am I going to be remembering my friends and family that have surrounded me throughout my life?

My point is, I just don’t understand why people insist that I should go to prom or, more importantly, why they feel the need to make me feel guilty for not going. Sure, it gives you a chance to play dress up, taking pictures with friends, but can’t I do that for a lot cheaper than $500 for a dress and shoes and another hundred for dinner and a dance with my friends?

What we’ve learned, I suppose, is that I’m not much of one for tradition. Tradition is great but, with the changing times, tradition also changes and–what people don’t realize–is prom isn’t at all what it used to be or is perceived as, and the society in which we live is very different as well. Prom is great, but some people aren’t meant to experience it, and they should never feel pressure to attend a social event.

Instead of going to my senior prom this year, I decided to drive to the center of the state to visit my mother and her family, celebrating my grandfather’s–my “Poppy”–birthday and, to me, that is a lot more important than playing pretty with friends.

P.S. Here are some goodies for you.

I had actually planned a very extravagant post for you all but, as writing would have it, I ended up going in a completely different direction than I had originally intended. I actually surveyed about 20 of my classmates asking them questions about their prom experiences and these are the following answers:

Average cost of a dress and shoes: $269.71

(with the highest price being a whopping $612 and the lowest being an amazing $12)

Average cost of a tux rental: $120.22

Average cost of extra activities (i.e. dinner) per person: $22.20

Why do you chose to go to prom?

Out of all the people I asked this question to, the majority of responses fell under the “social stigma” category. Many people feel like they have to go to prom. Following closely–and tied–were the “tradition” and “memories” categories. Other responses that interested me were:

-“My mom would stab me in the heart if I didn’t go.”

-“The only reason I’m going to prom is so I can drive my dad’s car.”

3 thoughts on “Why I Chose Not to Go to My Senior Prom

  1. Hmm, as the modern incarnation of John C. Calhoun, I am obviously biased against the institution of prom. However, I do realize that the outing’s origins as a coming-of-age night, one’s first ‘formal adult outing,’ do still ring true to a certain extent today. Perhaps it is not the extreme formality expected in the formals of the late nineteenth century, but the momentum of status that the night holds that governs its meaning. Although the dance itself may not be the most spectacular of spectacles, the event lends itself to an aura of ‘adult-ness’, which in my opinion is ironic when compared to the childish spending that takes place in preparation for the event. The events beside the dance perhaps allow young men and women to experience the ‘formalities’ of life as an adult, however anachronistic and silly the ideas of communion are in today’s fast paced and harshly individualistic society. Perhaps as you said, prom is not what one will remember on his or her deathbed; it does however, have the ability to lead to unexpected and volatile situations whose comical conclusions tend to stick with one till his end. All in all, interesting thoughts. Keep questioning, and keep writing. Best regards.

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    1. Probs worth noting that Auntie Em felt the same way-my date and I had a night in, then hosted an evening of our closest after-prommers…

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