This is in response to your advice to “Teen Girl Worries About Being At Prom By Herself.” First, her letter:
I’m a high school junior, and my school’s prom is coming up. I don’t have a date. I completely understand that I don’t need a date for prom to have fun. However, within my group of friends, we are organizing who will sit at our 18-person table, which means I’m the odd one out (eight couples plus me for a total of 17 seats filled).
I know I should try to have fun even if I’m the only one by myself, but the situation makes me feel so alone. I asked two different guys to go with me: One ended up going with a different girl and will be sitting at our table. The other didn’t want to go with me.
How should I handle this situation and be able to have fun at prom, even though I’ll be sticking out as the only person in our entire group who couldn’t manage to find someone to go with – even as a friend?
Anonymous in Pennsylvania
Then you, Abby, offered this useless pie-in-the-sky advice:
I understand why you would feel alone under these circumstances, but the truth is you WON’T be alone. You will be attending the prom with 16 friends.
If you concentrate on that, you CAN have a good time hearing music you enjoy, surrounded by friends who are supportive and dancing if you wish to.
Abby, you are wrong, wrong, WRONG.
Did you try for even just one minute to put yourself in Anonymous’ shoes? In her overpriced, stiletto-heeled CFM prom shoes?
Prom is a big deal. It’s not like a casual after-football-game gathering where people go with dates or don’t, and dance or don’t, and hang out. The point of prom is to get all dressed up, then ooh and ahh over each other’s dresses, then dance and pretend to be grown up and sophisticated.
So Anonymous has invested in a special prom dress and God knows what else (here’s an appalling checklist I found online), and she can do the ooh-ing and ahh-ing part, but then the dancing part comes and…
The other 16 people at her table head for the dance floor and she’s left at the table, alone.
And one of those people leaving the table is the boy she invited, who rejected her.
Abby, did you try for even 10 seconds to put yourself in her chair at that table?
If you had, you’d see where Anonymous’ evening is going. Oh, maybe she’ll get up during a fast song and dance – alone – and pretend she’s having a great time. Maybe she’ll head for the bathroom and fuss with her hair, crowded around by other girls fixing their hair…and talking about their dates.
And those other girls…the ones with dates…don’t ever doubt that they’re snickering at Anonymous. Remember how catty teenage girls can be? How mean? Get two or three of them together and you have a veritable meanness feast.
The movie Mean Girls was based on fact, not fiction.
Eventually the evening will end, and she’ll go home, and take off that special dress, where it will hang in her closet, a silent reproach reminding her every time she sees it:
You went to prom ALONE.
No pictures of her date sliding a corsage onto her wrist. No pictures of the group at the table where it’s not glaringly obvious that she was ALONE. No happy prom memories to retrieve and reflect on when she looks back on her high school years, and she will look back, we all do.
Most of us never forget high school, try as we might.
So here’s my advice to Anonymous:
Remember and applaud yourself for asking not one, but two boys to the prom. Good for you. The outcome wasn’t what you wanted, but that took courage, and you have that.
Save the money you would have spent on a dress (and who knows what else) and spend it on a treat for yourself. Even better, start a savings account with it. You’ll never be sorry you started that savings account.
And finally, you’ve experienced how sometimes life sucks. Everyone deserves to go to prom and have a great time. It didn’t work out for you, and in life, that happens.
You’ve learned something important that the prom kids didn’t, and in the wisdom department, that puts you way ahead of the prom kids.