The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
My class graduated high school in 2020 during the pandemic, so a lot of us around that age missed out on quintessential high school experiences. We’d grown up seeing movies and tv shows where the characters obsess over prom, trying to curate the perfect night with the perfect date and perfect friends. And most of the time they succeeded—maybe not in the way they expected, but still with a style that ended in fireworks, kissing the right person, and a roll-credits screen to any classic upbeat teen movie song.
When the pandemic hit and it became clear prom just wasn’t going to be possible, people around me started to say how sorry they were I’d be missing out. They would share their own experiences with prom, reminiscing about some of their favourite memories and smiling over people they hadn’t talked to in years.
With all this messaging from the media and my circle of friends and family, I felt like I must be missing out on something huge. I was sorry I wouldn’t magically find the perfect outfit, evade high-strung chaperones, and dance the night away as I’d seen so many characters do on screen. But the more I look back on it now, the more I realize that I’m not that sorry about missing prom. I don’t feel disappointed or cheated out of it. Instead, I’m actually glad I missed it.
Part of the reason for that is because events like prom are put so high up on a pedestal that they seem like the most crucial part of your high school career. Everything is so built up that it becomes extremely stressful, and if everything doesn’t go exactly right, those sky-high expectations are in for a rock-bottom disappointment. With all those hopes pinned on a single night, it seems inevitable that it wouldn’t live up to the hype.
Another reason is that I’d switched high schools in grade 11 and hadn’t made any close friends in my new school. All of my friends were provinces away, and honestly, I was intimidated by the idea of having to jam myself into a new group of people. So, I did what was easiest for me and I focused on schoolwork instead. That meant that I just wasn’t in the right place to be able to enjoy prom—I didn’t have people around me that I could look forward to celebrating it with. Now I’m in my third year of university and I have friends that I love to hang out with; people who share my interests and can offer support when we’re struggling through our classes together.
I’m glad I missed prom because now, instead of looking back on disappointed hopes and loneliness, I get to look forward to graduating university with friends I love.
All this to say that if not everything goes as planned—if you feel like you’re missing out on a big life experience or you’re falling behind at making friends—it’s okay. You’ll live your life and you’ll find your people. You may not get the fireworks or first kisses with a cheesy soundtrack, but you’ll get there in your own time.