Like many people, I thought prom was going to be the most important event of my life. That's because I was young and very, very stupid.
It's easy to put so much pressure on prom that you forget how silly it is, and lose sight of the fact that it's supposed to be fun. (Guys, pretty soon you'll have to wear a suit every day, so enjoy the novelty while you can.)
Here are reasons to relax leading up to the big day, and hopefully spare yourself a couple freakouts. You'll have plenty of time for those in your twenties.
Sorry, prom is not going to be the best night ever
What if I told you that you could spend an evening in a high school gym -- the day after it held a wrestling meet -- hearing the principal-approved hits of the day blasting incoherently as you wore uncomfortable clothing, all while being surrounded by sad grownups judging you and dudes hiding boners? Guess what? That's what prom is! Not that great.
You probably aren't marrying your date
Some people act like who they go to prom with defines who they are as a human being. That's very, very silly. The only thing it defines is who you sit next to that night at dinner and awkwardly slow dance with.
You have a boyfriend/girlfriend? Great, go with them. Chances are you'll be broken up in six months. Single? Find somebody you tolerate and take some pictures together. Bummed that the guy/girl you dreamed of asking you out didn't? Eat a pint of ice cream, watch a well-crafted American sitcom and go about your business. Odds are none of this matters after graduation.
Prom has nothing to do with whether you're a success or failure in life
We hear about prom for so many years beforehand, we think it has the be the most magical, amazing night of our entire lives -- and if it doesn't live up to that exactly, we're failures as high school students. You aren't. You just had a bad prom. You're only a failure if you never learned what the Pythagorean Theorem was.
Even if you embarrass yourself, nobody's going to remember
We all have moments we'd like to forget. I've had my voice crack in class, vomited in another class, and gotten enough public urination tickets to know that just because something seems like the worst thing that's ever happened, it goes away quickly and gets replaced by something even worse. (I also learned to skip chili dog day before gym class.)
About eight people will really know or care about what happened at your prom. Everyone else is too busy worrying about whether they're embarrassing themselves to care about whether you embarrassed yourself.
Didn't like your date? Didn't like your clothes? Didn't even go? Who cares! You have another five decades to make up all sorts of thrilling stories about what "really" happened. Maybe you and your date had a crazy night, broke into the aquarium? Maybe you all went to an afterparty where you bumped into Beyonce and Jay Z? Maybe you didn't just split your pants dancing to Charli XCX? Make it whatever you wanted it to be after the fact. You can always fix it in post.
If prom's as good as it gets, then that's the least of your problems
You're going to be doing a lot of other awesome things after prom. You're still very young and will have many more opportunities to dance awkwardly with people you're attracted to and wonder if you're going to get a make-out. The only people who think high school's the best years of their life are characters in movies and people cryogenically frozen at 18.
If you're reading this, you aren't either of those, so just relax and have a good time. Then start getting ready for college. Those really are the best years of your life, so don't screw them up.