Beliefnet
If you are anything like me, you can relate to waking up late and reaching into your closet to make the daily decision of "sweats or jeans?" Hardly glamorous, but comfort counts when you are sitting in Calculus counting the minutes until the bell rings. When chemistry labs and research reports take hours away from sleep, the only makeup being applied before running out the door is a little something to cover the bags beneath my eyes.

It's the usual disheveled state that my classmates see me in that caused me to worry about getting even more primped last Saturday for prom. As shallow and superficial as it may seem, I wanted to look "hot." Not just "nice" or "pretty." I wanted heads to turn when they saw that the frump they passed in the halls wasn't quite so unattractive after all.

The funny thing is I wasn't even planning on going to the prom. I didn't feel like smiling and playing nice to a bunch of high-school drama queens that I didn't much care about. Rather than going through the awkward motions of prom, I was planning on a yoga class and then hitting up a concert at the vegan restaurant/folk club with a friend from another school. But, of course, nothing goes as planned.

As I was cramming books into my locker before lunch, a week before prom night, my friend Ned showed up beside me and asked, "Whit? You got a date for prom?" I stuck to the story that I had been feeding to everyone, about how I didn't want to go, and how I would rather spend the time doing something productive and worthwhile. What I didn't expect was for the response to be, "What! No way, would you pleeeaassee come as my date?" I automatically answered "No." But I was conflicted. This was coming from my good friend from Bible study-my good friend who also happened to be the star defenseman of the lacrosse team and not such a bad looker. I knew most other girls were waiting for someone to ask them, and here I was turning down a great guy. Okay, I changed my mind. However, I made sure that this date was going to be on my terms.

Before I accepted his invitation, I told him that I don't drink and that I didn't want to go with him if he was planning on drinking at all. He agreed. He also agreed to donate the money we would have spent on a corsage and boutonniere to a local homeless shelter's meal collection.

We had a wonderful evening. We were one of the only couples sober, but that's why we had so much fun and are in fact still speaking to one another.

Prom night seems to be an open invitation to drink too much. In my small town most of my classmates will take advantage of any opportunity to get smashed. While on a day-to-day basis it's easy for me to avoid getting involved in "Tipsy Tuesdays," "Wasted Wednesdays," or "Trashed Thursdays," prom night causes more of a challenge.

Because I used to wish I had someone to give me advice on how to navigate the halls of high school without drinking-including how to negotiate prom night with its license to get loaded-I want to share some of my thoughts:

The best thing you can do is be up front. I know from experience that good people do bad things. Just because you may not want to drink or do drugs doesn't mean you have to go home as soon as the dancing stops. You can still have fun and not compromise your values. But the truth is, it is easier if the temptation isn't there. The first thing to do is tell people-most importantly your date-that you are planning on not drinking. This is key. If people know you aren't drinking, they are less likely to pressure you or try to force you into something you are not comfortable with. If you need to make something up, go for it: "I have a big soccer game tomorrow" or "I am tonight's designated driver" or "alcoholism runs in my family" works well too.

Why stay dry on prom night? For starters, the police are well aware that parties are going on and are on high alert. Also, even a slight buzz may spark the nerve to hook up with your date a bit more forcefully then you were originally planning, making for an awkward Monday morning not to mention possibly going against your values.

Prom night doesn't have to be stereotypical. You don't have to follow the crowd and go sit around someone's basement after the event, getting smashed and gossiping about who went with who and who was wearing what. Get creative. Go bowling, go dancing on the beach, spend time at the park watching the stars, treat a group of friends to a fancy dinner, or hit up the 24-hour Bickford's for some coffee and pancakes. Even the most ordinary things become more fun when you're dressed up! You're only in high school once. You might as well enjoy your night! However, make sure you have things planned out beforehand. Be clear with what you're doing, and tell your parents. They will be much more relaxed and less in your face if they know what's going on.

Hope everyone has a great prom! Hey, if I enjoyed it as much as a yoga class and some funky veggie restaurant, the sky's the limit!

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