For most high school kids, formal or prom is the absolute highlight of a high school career. I missed my year 10 formal, instead opting to go to Homecoming Prom when I was on student exchange. The experience was great, but I think that if it wasn’t a novelty, I would barely remember anything about it.
When I was in year 12, my Dad paid me $300 not to go to the formal (probably a bargain for him, if you added it all up). I went and got pictures with my friends even though they were all dressed up and I wasn’t, I helped my friends get ready and saw them all off. Then, I went home, watched Harry Potter with my sister and had an early night.
To a lot of people, I assume that my experience of that night seems a little sad but let me tell you, I can guarantee I had a better time at home than I ever would have had at the formal.
The problem with talking about this is that I give the impression that I’m up on a high horse, looking down on anyone who enjoys going out, partying, drinking, etc. I just really want to promise you here that this is not my intention, I am all for everyone doing what they want to do.
I hardly get asked anymore, but back in the uni days and early days of being 18, I always got asked to go out and every time (except one, regrettable instance), my answer was the same. No thank you. Then, of course, they follow with – “Ughhh you’ll have fun though, I promise” or, “Aren’t you bored, sitting at home?”
It has taken YEARS for others to realise what I already knew about myself, even when I was still young – I just don’t enjoy it. It’s not my thing. I’m not bored when I stay home because I read, I work on creative projects and I generally do things that I actually enjoy, even if they don’t line up with what everyone else enjoys.
The holiday that I’m on currently has reminded me of all this because, unlike most people my age who don a backpack overseas, the chances that you’ll find me wandering into a pub or doing some extreme sport are very slim. There are loads of people that enjoy those kinds of holidays, and I’m glad for them, but I know that there are plenty of people on my side of the fence who like to take their time seeing the historical sights, turning in early and enjoying the comfy bed in the hotel they over-paid for. And, of course, there are plenty of people who like to do both and that’s fine too.
I guess what I’m saying here, is find out what you like to do, screw what other people think and don’t be pressured into feeling like you need to do something you don’t enjoy, just to fit in. If your thing is partying all night, go for it. If you’re into reading a book all night, go for it. In the absolutely immortal words of Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You, do what you want to do.
A tiny disclaimer: If you know that your friend doesn’t like what you like, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invite them to join you – no matter the activity. You never know, maybe they’ll say yes! They might be waiting for you to ask! If they say no, don’t take that as a sign you should never ask them again.