Prom 2012: Expectations Vs. Reality

Prom always seemed like a night filled with awkward dancing, weird hook-ups (and break-ups) and built-up expectations of a magical night shattered. This year I went to my senior prom and it was, surprisingly, not horrible!

I never cared about prom during most of my high school career. I always rolled my eyes at nearly every single seemingly iconic high school event (like pep rallies, the homecoming football game, etc.) and prom was no exception.

But last week I actually went to my prom — and it turned out to be pretty fun. So here are seven ways in which prom exceeded, challenged, or met my expectations.

1. Totally Expected: Prom is not a magical, life-changing night.

Twilight’s prom.

Prom will not change your life! I repeat: prom will NOT change your life! Movies and TV shows have filled the precious heads of teenagers with this idea that prom is the night “Where It All Happens.” Do not expect anything amazing to happen except a chicken finger buffet* and some dancing, trust me. I expected prom to be a dance where my friends and I had a good time. Some of my peers expected prom to be a night where their date magically falls in love with them and they slow dance to Adele under the stars and maybe a unicorn is DJing. Guess whose expectations were right? Here’s a clue: mine.

2. Did Not Expect: My classmates are really good-looking!

Not Another Teen Movie — a parody, but a good-looking one.

No offense to my classmates, but they aren’t exactly the most stylish kids in the world. Most of my classmates do not dress up for school so when I saw them at prom they looked, GASP, really good! Who would have thought a bunch of smelly teenagers by day could look so elegant by night? Not me! I think they all had fairy godmothers. I also overestimated the number of tacky dresses and hairstyles I would find at prom. Snooki orange tans were also a rarity, which is strange for a South Jersey prom. I don’t even remember seeing even ONE glitzy tiara, which is a real bummer if you ask me.

3. Totally Expected, Sort Of: The dancing was mostly blasphemous but I survived!

Save the Last Dance.

Grinding, grinding, grinding. Teenagers LOVE having sex on the dance floor with their clothes on. It does not even matter what the DJ is playing either. They could be playing Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” and kids will STILL make a grind train. I wish I had pictures but I was too busy terrified by it all. I expected the dancing to be bad, but maybe not THAT bad. The important thing is that I survived. It took a group of really awesome dance floor buddies, a couple of glow sticks, and “Call Me Maybe” to come on but lord almighty I survived the prom dance floor. Where’s my medal?

4. Did Not Expect: Putting blood, sweat, and tears into your prom look is fun!

Me and my friends before prom (I’m on the far left).

Right off the bat I was going into prom with an “IDGAF” attitude and the same mindset applied to my look for prom. I only tried on one dress, a BCBG floor-length pleated gown, and I bought it immediately because I knew I would be happy wearing it. Most girls stress and plan for months about what they are wearing and how they will look but I was chill about it all…at first. Although I didn’t stress about it I did plan my look a lot. I knew exactly how I wanted my hair, what make-up I was going to wear, and what my jewelry would be. I thought girls who obsessed over their prom outfits were annoying, but then I realized how fun it was to really plan and coordinate a prom look!

5. Totally Expected: Drama happened.

Carrie.

Here is one way in which my prom was actually kind of like a movie: the Queen nomination was apparently rigged as a joke, but she didn’t know it. As well, people went with dates who were “just friends” but they really weren’t JUST friends and then hearts were broken. When there is so much pressure on a night like prom to be perfect, people get upset when it does not go exactly as they have planned. I expected this, unfortunately.

6. Did Not Expect: Nobody actually cares about prom…at prom.

Footloose’s totally ’80s prom.

The weeks leading up to prom are like “OMG PROM!!!” but that actually ends literally as soon as you get there. Prom is all about the hype and the preparation, which can either be really fun or really nauseating depending on how seriously you take it. Girls and guys will both act like prom is the biggest deal ever (see #1) but honestly, nobody cares that much about prom. Nobody cares that you don’t have a date, nobody cares what your dress looks like, and nobody cares if you cannot dance for your life. So all those things that people, and myself, worried about (the limo, the flowers, the lipstick, etc.) were not even worth worrying about!

7. Definitely Did Not Expect: Prom IS worth going to.

The Pretty in Pink prom model: Go with no date, leave with two.

For many teens an important question is whether or not to go to prom. For most of my time in high school I would have laughed at anyone who suggested I even think about attending. Now, looking back on my prom experience, I strongly recommend going! If it’s miserable, you will most likely laugh about it in the future. Though if you have a great group of friends, find your place on the dance floor, and steer clear of any high school drama, you will definitely have a good time. I never expected Prom 2012 could be so fun!

*Chicken fingers can definitely be amazing. Don’t even try to argue with me.

Hazel Cills is a writer for Rookie Mag and a blogger for the universe. Call her maybe.

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