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Prom night. The party of all parties. The most important dance of your life. Well, not quite. Most of the hype and huge expectations eventually end up as a big disappointment. You will put in so much effort and money to make this night something out of your dreams, but it rarely turns out to be anything you’ve planned.
That’s why more and more high school graduates choose to skip prom. People say that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you’ll regret not going. But, the truth is, there will be parties that will cost less, and you’ll enjoy yourself more. I’m not saying prom can’t be great, but if you expect a fairy tale, you’re likely heading for a big letdown.
I chalked up a list of eight reasons not to attend prom, from the financial factor to the fact that it’s a social construct requesting you to enjoy things you usually probably hate. If you don’t want to go to prom but think you’ll regret it, keep reading to see there is nothing colossal you’ll be missing, even though you might be led to believe there is.
1. Prom is expensive
I placed the financial angle as the number one reason not to attend prom because, well – it is brutally expensive. Of course, you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money, but even if you cut all the expenses to the minimum, it will still end up being a lot of money.
First of all, the “prom ticket” per person usually costs between $50 and $100, depending on how luxurious your school plans it out to be. If you are bringing a date along, that’s another ticket you have to pay, making that price double.
The reason why tickets tend to be so expensive is that there are so many things you have to pay for. The most considerable expense is the venue you have to rent out. There’s also the food, drinks, the decorations, the band, the staff (cooks, waiters, etc.), the gifts for your professors… So many things you collectively have to pay for. The more stuff you want, the higher the price.
But that’s just the icing on the cake of expenses. Some surveys suggest that an average teen spends around $1000 on prom night, which is a staggering number. Even if you don’t buy a dress but only rent it for the night, it will still cost you between $50 and $150, depending on the dress. The same thing goes for tuxedos. And, if you plan on buying one, get ready to cash out at least $300 or more.
I haven’t even mentioned the shoes, jewelry, hair, makeup, flowers, limos, and all the unnecessary glamour that every prom night possesses nowadays. Finally, there’s a new trend among teens that raises the expenses even more – the famous “promposals”.
If you ask your parents how they found their prom date, they’ve probably just asked somebody to come with them in the school hallway. But now, social media constructed yet another silly trend – the promposals.
Kids are spending an average of $300 on the promposals, making them extravagant, and of course, social media-worthy. There are usually bands involved, costumes, confetti… Basically, these became more complex than real proposals. If you’re not that keen on being famous on social media and don’t want to spend a fortune on something so trivial, just ask someone if they’re going to be your date in a standard, traditional way.
2. Most proms are underwhelming
Even though people look at prom night as something that you can experience only once; a magical evening that you’ll remember for a lifetime – you will probably just end up underwhelmed and bored. There is a lot of hype, but in the end, it’s just a dance, where most people probably won’t even be dancing.
Yes, there will be more glam and money involved, but nothing about it makes it magical, as society wants you to believe.
The real truth is, you’ll be surrounded by a lot of people you probably don’t like or don’t even know, throwing fake smiles all around. Things usually get awkward quite fast, and you will end up asking yourself, “what was all the fuss about?”.
Moreover, there is a strong possibility you won’t even enjoy the music they are playing. Usually, there will be a local band playing all those cheesy classics. Even if they end up playing modern tunes, that doesn’t guarantee you will like it or that they’ll be any good.
One more thing that a lot of people say was too overwhelming on their prom is the silly flashing lights. Basically, you’re in a dark room, surrounded by the people you don’t know or like, listening to music you don’t enjoy, and all the lights flashing into your eyes means that all the makeup, the new shoes, dresses, or tuxes mean nothing, because nobody will probably see them in the dark.
Yes, there are better things you can do with your time and with your money. Going to the movies with your close friends will have a much more significant impact on your mood than standing around awkwardly in a hall filled with people standing around awkwardly.
The last point I’ll make here is that it doesn’t have to be underwhelming if you don’t set your expectations too high. People saying that it’ll be the best night of your life or the most important party you’ll ever attend – couldn’t be more wrong.
There will be many more awesome parties you’ll be able to attend after high school. Everybody that ever went to college can confirm that. And, if huge parties like prom or homecomings aren’t your cup of tea, you shouldn’t feel obliged to fake and attend just because society says it’s essential.
If somebody tells you that you will regret not attending prom, they should reconsider their life priorities because prom is nothing but a glorified school dance.
3. You don’t know how to dance
If you’ve ever been to any school dances, you know that things get awkward pretty quickly. Why? Because almost nobody even knows how to dance. If you one of those people, there’s no reason for you to go out there and feel embarrassed about your dance moves.
Of course, prom isn’t all about dancing – you’re there hanging out, having drinks, eating some food, etc. But, it is primarily a dance party, so you should have at least some moves if you don’t want to look like a complete tool out there. That’s why many people pay for dance lessons before prom – which is yet another expense on the prom bill.
In the end, what if you just don’t like to dance? Not everybody feels comfortable expressing themselves through body movement, and yet, it’s expected from you if you go to prom. Hence, many proms end up with an empty dance floor and people standing on the sides, nodding their heads to the music.
Therefore, if you’re not a good dancer, and don’t really care for learning how to dance just for prom, don’t do it just because you feel obligated to do so. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t attend. Even if you do, but just don’t like dancing, you shouldn’t have to do it just because it’s customary.
4. Finding a date
We can thank Hollywood teenage romantic comedies for this one – everybody feels the most pressure about finding their date for prom. Before, it was customary to just show up on your own and have fun. But now, everybody looks at you awkwardly if you don’t have a date for prom.
It’s just added stress to an event that is stressful for most as it is, and it shouldn’t be like that. It should be a magical evening you will remember for a lifetime, right? Let’s face it; you most likely won’t marry your prom date, so why should you make such a big deal out of it?
Additionally, most schools don’t allow prom dates that aren’t attending that particular school. So, if you want to bring along a date that’s not from your class or school, you can’t, which limits your date choice pretty much.
The biggest part of finding a date is the before-mentioned promposals. As I said, it’s become more of a social media-driven custom than something meaningful and sweet like it was before.
The guys are stressing about how they’re going to ask the girl to prom with them. Girls are worried about whether somebody will ask them out to prom or not. Isn’t that just putting too much significance into something that, in reality, plays no significant role in the rest of your life?
If you feel comfortable showing up on your own, make sure you’re the type of person that doesn’t get affected by other people’s opinions. It should be your magical day, after all, and you should be able just to be yourself and enjoy. In reality, being yourself is quite limited in situations that are as constructed and as uniformed as prom.
You have to have a date, you have to adhere to the dress code, you have to dance, and you have to do what everybody else is doing. If you don’t feel like acting as if you are something that you aren’t, stop stressing about finding a prom date and merely doing something that has more meaning for you.
5. It’s too much stress
There are many reasons why prom causes so much stress not only for you but also for your parents. It causes more stress than excitement and joy, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to endure something so stressful in your teen days.
The first thing you will stress about is whether you will find a date to go with you. It shouldn’t be awkward to attend prom on your own because, after all, it is your celebration, not somebody else’s. However, the social standard practically obligates you to find a date, and if you can’t find one, you’ll feel embarrassed.
Asking somebody to come with you is a stress factor of its own. I stressed about asking somebody I liked to prom so much that, when I finally found the courage to do it, somebody else already asked them to go with them. There’s too much meaning put into something that is trivial and has no real impact on the rest of your life.
Secondly, there is a particular dress code you have to adhere to – you have to be your best self. Rent out a tux or a dress, buy new shoes, do your makeup. When you finally decide what to wear, you will still stress out about what other people are wearing and if somebody will have the same outfit as you.
It’s great to dress up for a special occasion such as prom, but if you lack the funds or simply don’t enjoy being in something that makes you uncomfortable, you shouldn’t feel the pressure to do so.
The financial factor also plays a massive role in the amount of stress a prom can cause. Not everybody is in a financial situation to spend $600 or more for a single night out. Spend that money on something that you want or need. Even better, save that money for something that will be a lot more important than looking good at a party.
Many teens are worried that all these factors will lead to them feeling embarrassed or ashamed. Not finding a date, not having money for expensive outfits, or even not knowing how to dance can expose you to unwanted embarrassment. If this stuff isn’t something you genuinely enjoy, don’t force yourself into it just because everyone else is doing it.
6. You will feel exhausted
On my prom night, I felt exhausted even before the evening began. So much so, I didn’t even feel like partying anymore when the time came. There’s so much you have to do before and during prom day to make it a perfect night, you will end up drained.
Before prom day, there’s finding a date, learning how to dance, trying out clothes, getting a haircut, etc. You have to do so many things if you want to satisfy the social standard on how to look and behave on your prom night.
But, the real exhaustion comes on the night of the dace. As soon as you wake up, you need to plan where to pick up your date, put on makeup, get your hair done, etc.
Once you arrive, a whole evening of smiling, taking photos, dancing, and socializing with random people awaits. Many people have a habit of going to bed early. Well, on prom night, it won’t happen. You can’t be the first one to leave, right?
All that exhaustion and effort you put into making your prom perfect, in reality, means nothing. The world won’t stop spinning if you just don’t put yourself through so much trouble for a single night out that’s almost always underwhelming.
7. It never lives up to the expectations
There is so much hype revolving around prom; you probably think it has to be the best party of your life. The truth is, it can never live up to the expectations you might have. Dressing up expensively and acting as celebrities doesn’t change what prom is – it’s just a glorified school dance.
Most people prefer spending their time with their nearest and dearest and don’t care about fake glamour. Even if you do expect prom to be something unique and special, you will just end up feeling disappointed when it doesn’t turn out to be what you imagined.
8. Don’t feel pressured to do something you don’t enjoy
You probably feel obligated to go to prom because everybody else is going. It’s a social construct you are obliged to adhere to, even if you don’t actually want to. But the truth is, not everybody enjoys huge social gatherings and parties, especially when they come with so many rules you have to follow – the date, the dress code, etc.
If you are one of the people that enjoy the company of a small, selected group of people, spend your time as you see fit, not as society demands. Of course, if you enjoy dressing up nicely and showing up in public where there’s a lot of people, then prom is probably the best place you can be.
In the end, it all depends on how you enjoy spending your time the most. If you like the glam and the custom that a prom represents, you should go for it regardless of these reasons.
But, if you don’t feel like spending a ton of money, energy, and effort to hang out with people whose company you don’t enjoy, you should feel comfortable with skipping prom and doing something more productive with your time and money.
You might believe that you will be missing out or putting yourself at a disadvantage compared to your peers. But, ultimately, nothing will change in your life, whether you choose to go to prom or not.