It’s Raining On Prom Night

Going+to+prom+shouldn%E2%80%99t+be+stressful%2C+but+whatever+choice+you+make%2C+make+sure+you+know+you%E2%80%99re+doing+the+right+thing+for+you.+Spot+the+difference%3A+my+freshman+prom%2C+2014%3B+my+mother%E2%80%99s+freshman+prom%2C+Shenandoah+High+School%2C+Albany%2C+New+York%2C+1973.+

Alexa Geidel

Going to prom shouldn’t be stressful, but whatever choice you make, make sure you know you’re doing the right thing for you. Spot the difference: my freshman prom, 2014; my mother’s freshman prom, Shenandoah High School, Albany, New York, 1973.

Alexa Geidel , Columnist

It’s that time of year again.  Yep, prom season. All your favorite magazines hopelessly devote page after page with ‘prettiest prom ever’ and ‘hairstyles for the prom queen’ and stores pack their windows with bedazzled nightmares. One thing I can say I enjoy about prom season, other than watching two girls show up in the same run-of-the-mill dress (see “The Anatomy Of The Perfect Homecoming Outfit” on how to avoid that one), is that it is a season of decision making, a time to experiment with governing the importance of ideas like these. So, sit back, relax, and let’s discuss why the milestone idea of prom doesn’t have to hold true to you.

Freshman year was the year I had to grow up. My personal life was in shambles and it was an entire year of self-discovery. I am glad I endured it so young because now I can make better decisions as a result. That year, however, I did go to prom, and I did have the time of my life. It wasn’t romance-filled, Beauty and the Beast type cavorting about the dance floor, but I was surrounded by some of the best friends I’ve ever had, even if it was bittersweet because they were seniors and leaving soon. We went to the nines; we’re talking town car and limo reservation, dinner that the men valiantly covered, new dresses and heels, hair done by my mom, and one girl in the group even won prom queen. I count that night as my quintessential prom outing and knowing that, I was able to make a better decision about this year.

Sophomore year prom season started off the same way. I had no intention of going, seeing as I was still an underclassman, but we all know how well that state of mind worked the year before. Anyway, I got a promposal, as Instagram has so thoughtfully coined it, and my personal seamstress (my mom) went to work on a dress she wore to a wedding in the 80s. I guess you could say I got cold feet, but something made me realize I wasn’t going for the right reasons. I elegantly backed out of the date and apologized a couple hundred times. There I go again, making responsible decisions without even realizing it; but in all seriousness, this too helped me weigh my options for this year and make a more educated decision.

And finally – a year I am actually supposed to go to prom – junior year, I’m not going. It’s surprisingly empowering. I’m saving hundreds of dollars, making better plans, and avoiding the epicenter of drama. I’m stoked to chill in my sweats with the only two men I need in my life:  Ben and Jerry. Not much can entice me away from ice cream so that was the end of it. I decided to stop caring. Why does it have to be so stressful? Nothing like prom should be this dramatic, so I decided to do away with it. I reached out to some new friendships I’d like to further explore and decided to call it a night there. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that prom is kind of like the first day of school. Some people have friends and finding a seat is as easy as one-two-three. Yet for others, getting assigned seats alleviates some of the awkwardness, that ‘I don’t know where to sit’ or ‘I don’t know if these people still like me after a summer apart’ or ‘my goodness, I didn’t realize how dry my friendship well has run’ – I feel like choosing not to go to prom is kind of like getting assigned seats. It’s daring not to go to prom. I’m proud I am able to admit that I don’t need prom to define my junior year.

I don’t feel like I’ll be missing out on anything – and even if I was, that’s why they invented social media, right? I’m unwilling to invest all that money and time into a night like that for it not to be perfect. I’m going to get cozied up with my new friends and watch chick-flicks all night to keep my mind off things. Even though I am consciously making the decision for myself, it is possible I’ll still get a little sad when the night arrives. I’m going to make the night about me, because although I usually am all for dressing like you’re meeting your worst enemy, prom really isn’t about you. Prom is about impressing others. The word ‘prom’ is shortened from the word ‘promenade,’ an age-old tradition where couples marched – or promenaded – around the perimeter of the ballroom to display their gowns and status. I think the word ‘prom’ when taken from the word ‘promenade’ is too romanticized. The word ‘prom’ is feckless now.

That probably isn’t a reason why Sloan-Taylor Rabinor skipped her senior prom to audition for So You Think You Can Dance but the decision paid off and so began her whirlwind career starring in Lady GaGa’s “Telephone” short film and going on tour with the singer as well. She found strength in not attending. I am finding strength in not attending, and you should find the strength in yourself to decide if this night is for you. High school isn’t just about making junior/senior prom a ‘night to remember,’ it’s also about realizing that your life doesn’t have to revolve around what everyone else is doing. Be your own person and schedule some rain, because you’re staying in this prom night.