What I Learned From Being the Most Awkward Prom Date
Prom was a bit of an uncomfortable high school experience for me.
While I had fun getting all dolled up and dancing the night away with my friends, I did learn something very important about myself: I am the most awkward date.
Both years that I went to prom, I didn't have a boyfriend or any kind of love interest to rely on. So both years I ended up going with guy "friends"—put in quotes because I didn't really know them that well. Had they been my besties or even someone I talked to on the reg, all likely would have gone differently. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.
I wasn't super comfortable with these dudes and I desperately wanted to convey that going to prom together wasn't a romantic thing in the slightest. At the same time, I wanted to be kind and considerate of their feelings, so I avoided being overtly explicit about my lack of interest. Plenty of other things were bouncing around in my over-analyzing head, but the result was the same: I was just so awkward the entire night.
(Never Been Kissed via Fox 2000 Pictures)
I would sort of try to dodge my dates and avoid conversation as much as possible. Then, after a while, I felt bad, so I'd seek them out and try to start up a friendly dance. Things would get a little too cozy for my taste, so I would dip again, usually under the guise of grabbing a drink or going to the bathroom. I would keep my distance for another hour or so, and then start the entire process all over again.
In essence, both my proms were spent dodging my dates periodically and mentally freaking out about the state of the evening. I couldn't really tell you why I got so awkward—I just don't like contrived situations where I feel like there are certain expectations for my behavior. I can tell you, however, that I learned a lot of valuable lessons from being the most awkward date on the face of the planet. Keep scrolling to learn from my mistakes.
Don't Say Yes Out of Fear
For both of my unfortunate prom experiences, I pretty much said yes to the guys because I was afraid of saying no. I wasn't sure how to respectfully decline their invitations, and I really didn't want to hurt their feelings. However, by caring too much about their needs, I didn't put enough thought into my own feelings. I knew I didn't really want to go with them, but that seemed less important than preserving their ego in the moment. Plus, there was the added worry of going to prom alone, which felt like the worst option at the time.
Unfortunately, saying yes to anything because you're too afraid to say no is always the wrong move. You should do the things that you want to do, regardless of how intimidating the consequences might be. Sticking up for what you want at the beginning might result in a little bit of momentary awkwardness, but agreeing to something because you're too scared of the alternative will lead to an entire evening of uncomfortable interactions.
(Napoleon Dynamite via Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Don't Do Anything That Makes You Uncomfortable
Very closely related to refusing to do things out of fear, you also shouldn't do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Prom is a high-stress night, mostly due to the fact that TV and movies have consistently pushed the message that it's the most important evening of your high school career. It's easy to get caught up in the glitz and glam of the event and forget to take into account what you really want.
By being uncomfortable at both of my proms, I was unable to really enjoy the evening. The magic of the night was reduced a bit because I had to worry about these boys who I didn't really care about. Whether it's agreeing to dates or events before prom, or coordinating your activities the night of, don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Not only are you guaranteed to regret it down the line, it will also detract from what should be a really fun milestone in your high school career.
(Mean Girls via Paramount Pictures)
Dates Aren't That Important
What I wish I'd known all along—prom dates really aren't that important. In the moment, it seems like all your friends have their dates lined up and that you're going to be dancing alone all evening. At least, that's certainly how I felt. Everyone else's date situation seemed to fall into place so seamlessly. I didn't want to be the only single one in the group dragging my friends down.
The night of, however, dates kind of fade into the background. They're useful for pictures and that's pretty much it. When we got to the venue, people often danced with whomever they wanted, leaving their dates behind or merging into one big group. When we were finally at the dance, there wasn't one moment that would have been weird had I not had a date. And I know that for a fact because I spent most of the evening dodging my dates. It's much better to dance the night away with your girlfriends or to go solo than it is to pair up with another person just for the sake of a few meaningless pictures.
(Princess Protection Program via Disney Channel)
Don't Put Too Much Pressure On It
While there were definitely a lot of factors that went into my awkward date behavior, one undeniable element was the amount of pressure I put on the evening. I assumed that it had to be the perfect night, so the fact that I wasn't romantically interested in my dates automatically made me feel weird. I imagined a beautiful evening with someone I really cared about, and I wasn't sure how to effectively shift that expectation to mimic the reality of my situation.
Prom seems like the most important night of your life, but it's not. While you should definitely do your best to have a good time, it's also important to remember that it's just one evening. Even if it goes perfectly, it doesn't have that much of an impact on the rest of your life, or even the rest of your school year. Relaxing and taking things as they come will lead to a much more enjoyable night, rather than putting all kinds of pressure on your situation and setting yourself up for disappointment if anything goes wrong.
(Gossip Girl via The CW)
Looking for more prom advice? Click HERE for things you should never wear to prom.