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No Date, No Problem: Why My Prom Alone Was a Night to Remember

Members+of+the+Class+of+2017+together+at+their+senior+prom%3B+Image+courtesy+of+Anna+Clarke+Harrison+%28%2717%29
Members of the Class of 2017 together at their senior prom; Image courtesy of Anna Clarke Harrison ('17)

Members of the Class of 2017 together at their senior prom; Image courtesy of Anna Clarke Harrison ('17)

Members of the Class of 2017 together at their senior prom; Image courtesy of Anna Clarke Harrison ('17)

Caroline Daniel

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I sat on the floor of my bedroom, staring at a long, pink dress that lay silently on the floor.  The hairless shimmer that glimmered from my legs let me know that this was no ordinary day.  Yet even as Vanessa Hudgens’s and Zac Efron’s brilliant harmony whispered in my ear that this was the “night of nights,” I felt an undeniable sense of unease.

Something was off.  It was 4:20 and I was not in my car yet.  I did not have a pit of sickening butterflies swirling in my stomach.  I had not stuck my lipstick in my clutch “just in case.”  But I did have one thing—the enigmatic words of the wise Dr. Adam Wilsman echoing softly, yet strongly, in my head:

“Even if you don’t get a date to prom, you can still be good at history!”

Here I was, eighteen years young, about to do the unthinkable: attend my senior prom—GASP!—alone.

Allow me to give you a backstory.

My horrific dance saga began freshman year.  After being one of the few—and the proud—to not be asked to the tremendous event that is MBA Homecoming, I was determined to find a stellar date for Winter Formal.  So determined, in fact, that I ended up texting—yes, texting—a photo of myself to a boy.

Why did I need a photo, you ask?

Because I had never seen nor met this boy in my life.

After waiting an ungodly number of hours for him to respond, I had found myself a date.  (Looking back, that was mighty kind of that boy to say yes.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that took some strong coaxing from his mother).  I found a super-original LBD and some heels that I was somewhat capable of walking in.  I was ready to go.

The night began with me showing up at his house.  He answered the door with his mom.  Desperate to make a good first impression, I slyly complimented his cute bulldog sitting inside the door.

Just one problem.  The bulldog was a statue.

Friends, that about sums up how that night went.  From riding speechless in the back of my parents’ car to finding my date fast asleep at my after party, Winter Formal 2014 quickly became a night to remember.

Long story short, nearly all of my dance-date experiences leading up to senior Prom quickly turned into disasters.  Maybe it was the many unnecessary tears I cried desperately trying to find a man who would turn out to be the love of my life or maybe it was the fact that every single one of my dates ended up in a relationship with someone else within months of my taking them, but as senior Prom approached, going alone was sounding more and more appealing.

Eventually, I convinced my parents to let me go alone.  Which wasn’t exactly easy—I had to struggle through pity from my dad and slight disdain from my mom.  But, fortunately, being the strong and independent woman that I am, I got my point across.  So, as I stared into my mirror about to leave for Harpeth Hall on April 8, I was ready to show every one of those boys what they were missing.

And Prom 2017 didn’t disappoint.

Pictures were a hit.  I didn’t have to worry about where to put my arms while I posed with my date.  I didn’t have to keep up with him in the sea of black tuxedos.  It was me and my girlie bops chilling on Souby while the sun shone brightly—and I got more quality photos than ever before.

Dinner was a breeze.  I didn’t have to awkwardly leave the table for a “bathroom break” simply because I needed to escape the testosterone permeating throughout the air.  I didn’t have to worry about stuffing my face—so I ate that delicious food like I had run a long way that morning (which I had).

The dance—by far the best HH dance I had ever experienced.  I could move wherever I wanted in the crowd, not having to worry about letting my date off of his leash to never see him again.  I danced with any and every one, and I was not afraid to let out my not-so-coordinated moves.  I danced to every song and belted out the lyrics.  By the end of the final song, I was sweating and happier than ever.

The after party was of course a blast.  I got to eat some delicious food and watch as couples slowly broke off.  That last part might not sound like much fun, but I promise you, it’s a lot better to watch other people coupling up when you’re alone than when you have a date who seems like the last thing he wants is to express affection for you (and usually the feeling is mutual).  Or when you have a date who would rather stare at his phone than into your beautifully shadowed eyes.

And so just like that, my final Harpeth Hall dance was over.  I woke up the next morning knowing that I had saved the best for last.

Now that a solid three weeks have passed since Prom, I’ve come to realize what made that dance so great.  And while it was certainly fun because I didn’t have a date, what truly made it fun was an awesome trio I like to call me, myself, and I.

Freshman year, I never would have dared set foot out of my house without a date.  I needed that person next to me as a crutch, a social symbol, a sign that I was fifteen, flirty, and thriving.  I needed that gangly, awkward, pubescent male next to me to cover up the confidence that I lacked.

Four years later, here I am.  Despite having broken my heel this past fall, I can stand better than ever on my own two feet.  I know I don’t need to worry about how others perceive me or my date or my dress or my makeup or yada yada yada.  I just know I need to have a good time—and whatever gets that job done, I’ll do.

And—cue senti moment—that’s why I’m thankful for a place like Harpeth Hall.  I came into this school unwilling to even raise my hand in class—let alone raise my hands in the air and wave them like I didn’t care in a sea of boys.  But thanks to loving teachers, amazing mentors, and 102 phenomenal sisters, I’ve learned that dancing your heart out isn’t so hard when you know everyone is on your side.  When you know that you’re stronger together.  When you know that, when questioned, all those people surrounding you will stand firm and say “I’m with her.”

To all of my ladies who are stressing about next year’s Homecoming, Winter Formal, or Prom date—DON’T.  While you might think you’re going to be considered an outcast, or viewed as weird, or looked down upon at the time, I promise you—no one will notice.  After all, a couple of weeks later, do you ever remember who so and so took as her date?  Because I sure don’t.

Now, I’m not bashing taking a date in any way.  In fact, if you’ve got a great boyfriend or guy friend you love spending time with, go ahead—ask away and have a fantastic time doing it.  But it you’re stressing, and crying, and losing your focus on more pressing issues—just go alone.  Don’t let the stress of getting a date interfere with the amazing places you’re going.

So, ladies, let your dress flow, let your hair down, and let your hands wave in the air—you don’t need anyone else to have the best dance of your life.  And remember—when you’re standing on Capitol Hill someday taking the oath of office, no one is going to care whether or not you got a date to the Prom.

But they are going to care whether or not you’re good at history.

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No Date, No Problem: Why My Prom Alone Was a Night to Remember