I skipped prom for a few different reasons: I’d been to two homecoming dances before, and while I’d had an okay time, it didn’t feel the need to repeat it with a much-pricier ticket (another reason I skipped). My friends were all going with dates, and I was dateless; the few boys I would have liked to go with already had plans, and same-gender prom dates were not a thing in my small, conservative hometown. I would have gone with a group of friends that included other single people, but I didn’t want to be a third-, fifth-, or eleventh-wheel. And finally, while I had a handful of amazing friends, I didn’t love my high school experience overall and didn’t feel the need to celebrate as a class.
Instead, I hung out with another friend who skipped prom: we went to Chili’s, watched the Nightmare Before Christmas at her place, and met up with a few friends for a bonfire later on. It was a pretty good night — and ten years later, I don’t regret skipping.
Earlier this week, I put out a call via Twitter and Facebook, saying I wanted to talk to other prom-skippers. I was overwhelmed with responses, from an 18-year-old who skipped prom in 2018 to a few people in their 50s — not to mention all the people who did go to prom but wished they’d skipped it. Some people I talked to regretted skipping prom, especially if they’d skipped because they were struggling with self-esteem issues or were insecure about going without a date. But the majority of prom-skippers had no regrets.
Whether they were glad they skipped or wished they’d gone, most people I talked to had similar advice for current high school students: If prom sounds fun and you think you’ll have a good time, then go for it! But if you’re already dreading all things prom, you don’t have to go — especially if you know you’ll have a better time doing something else, whether spending a low-key evening in watching a movie with a friend, or creating iconic plans like Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction author Gabrielle Moss, who told me, “I skipped my prom and went to a concert instead because I had read that Carrie Brownstein had skipped her prom to go to a concert.”