7 Things Prom Taught Me About The Real World

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We’re all a version of a preconceived stereotype in high school: jock, nerd, goth, cheerleader, etc., and the pinnacle of this stereotype is prom. Personally, I was the girl who hated everyone and just wanted to graduate, but even that character can be embodied at prom.

While it’s happening, it seems like the furthest thing from reality. Dressing up in ball gowns and tuxes and taking a limo your parents paid for to some venue to twirl around with a bunch of teenagers all night?

Believe it or not, prom does have some application to how the real world works, and here it is broken down for you.


 

1. You can’t let your period get in the way of your life.

I got made fun of a lot in high school because of the never-failing horrible timing of my periods. It popped up the morning of my birthday, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, homecoming, you name it. So when I got my period on the day of my prom, I didn’t even bat an eyelash.

Instead of sitting at home whining about it and eating chocolate while crying about how bloated I was, I stuffed my water retaining ass in my big ball gown and danced through the cramps. Luckily, the pain from my high heels was enough to distract my brain from my stomach. Moral of the story: Life still goes on when you have you period, and you just need to deal.

 

2. If you’re only going to wear something once, you should buy something cheap, rent something, or sell it after.

What girl hasn’t started a “So-and-So’s Closet” Instagram at some point in her life? And the thing that gives most women the inspiration to start selling their old clothing is the prom dress: the dress that you wear literally once and can never, ever wear again. No matter what the sales lady tries to convince you of.

 

3. Acting like you’re “too cool” for things isn’t actually cool at all.

There’s always those students in high school who show up at prom wasted, spend the whole night making out with their boyfriend and never even see the dance floor, or opt out of going entirely because it’s lame.

While you may think high school is the end of this, it really isn’t. Just last week I went to a club with my friends and one of us stayed glued to the wall with a drink in her hand the whole time.

The rest of us were dancing and it’s possible that we looked like idiots, but we didn’t care. She’s the one who spent the car ride home bitching about how tired or bored she was.

 

4. You don’t always need to have a significant other in your life.

I went to two proms: my junior prom and my senior prom. Senior year I went with my boyfriend, and I had a terrible time. He was too embarrassed to dance so we sat down for most of the night, and afterwards he just wanted to be alone with me so I didn’t get to have fun with my friends.

Junior year, I went with my best friend Millie. We got each other corsages, slow danced together, and took a bunch of ridiculous photos at the park beforehand. I’ve never had such a great night. I didn’t stress about my boyfriend, or having a boyfriend, or getting laid at the end of the night. I just enjoyed myself with my favorite person. And whispered “I have cramps” in her ear all night because, well, I had my period.

We feel pressure to have a boyfriend even more in our twenties, when family members harass us about starting a family every chance they get. When I start to get the inevitable anxieties (I’ll be alone forever, I won’t even have any friends, my cats will eat my corpse), I remember those prom nights and remind myself that guys definitely aren’t that important and yes, I still have plenty of time.

 

5. You will always have bad hair days, and that’s okay.

Every girl goes through that mini-crisis before prom where she gets her hair done and it’s all wrong. Cue melodramatic meltdown. Or, tie it up in a ponytail and laugh it off. My life after prom has taught me that my prom hair catastrophe wasn’t an isolated event. I’ve had many bad hair days, but I’ve rarely cared.

 

6. No one really knows what they’re doing in life, so just worry about yourself.

Whether it’s the girl desperately attempting to hold it together in her brand new heels that she looks like a baby giraffe in or the guy berating the playlist to cover up the fact that he’s a terrible dancer, people just aren’t as together as they seem at prom. This holds true forever, so the best thing to do is to let go of insecurities and just be. Or maybe look up old pictures of classmates at prom to remind yourself how funny they looked, whatever works.

 

7. People who peak in high school usually just peak in high school.

Maybe you go to prom and don’t get invited to any after-parties, or no hot guys try to look up your skirt. Although I had fun with my best friend when I went with her, I remember feeling a little weird that I didn’t have an actual “date.” But having a “date” or not having a “date” at prom doesn’t mean anything one way or another about you as a person, and neither do a lot of things in life.

Taylor Engle

Fashion and culture writer/editor at Forever Twenty Somethings. Judging your outfit. Let me write about it.

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