How the prom I never had made me the woman I am today

When I was 14, I refused to attend school. After years of bullying, I couldn’t face it any longer. I decided that my future wouldn’t have anything more to do with education.

The school and I came to a compromise, I would attend isolated lessons where I would teach myself, so I didn’t have to suffer through classes. I had no motivation, I didn’t care, and I had no intentions of passing my exams.

But when I was 16 years old, something changed in me, and this is why…

Every girl in the 21st century dreams of their prom. Whether you’re the girl with the Slipknot T-shirt or the girl with a bow in her hair… I was that girl in the Slipknot T-shirt.

Feeling like I couldn’t because of what I looked like, I would secretly google pictures of red carpet dresses that I’d dream of wearing to my prom.

I was never one for the huge puffy skirts that I could only imagine getting wedged in-between a door. I pictured every girl who made my life hell wearing them and feeling fabulous, confident and having the best night of their lives. Boyfriends buying them a corsage and wearing a tie that matched their date’s dress. Going to parties in a limo, underage drinking until the early hours, it all sounded so appealing back then.

As an adult, I cringe at the idea of 16-year-olds doing this. But the reality is, when you’re one of them, it’s all you want. You believe your five years in high school have all been leading to this moment.

After countless searches, I found a dress that just blew me away. I stared at it for hours, I saved it on my phone and I’d examine each detail of the dress that Scarlett Johansson wore. It was elegant, it was feminine and I loved it. It was everything I didn’t think I was.

She wore an Elie Saab champagne blush dress with a V-neck, an empire waist and cap sleeves. It had beautiful embellishment throughout the whole thing and a train all the way to the floor. I saw nothing but a confident woman gracing the Golden Globes in the dress of my dreams.

I showed my Mam this dress and she was overwhelmed. Her daughter who lived in men’s baggy T-shirts for their teenage youth actually wanted to wear a pretty pink dress. She promised we’d find a replica and I’d have the prom I always wanted.

I fantasized of turning up at my prom, wearing the dress that Scarlett Johansson wore and showing everyone the young woman I had transformed into. But the fear soon settled in that I would be turning up alone, and after my entrance, I would be just that; alone.

I knew in my heart I would never attend my prom. It was nothing but a fantasy.

The night of my prom passed, and as much as I pretended I didn’t care about not going, I did. I wanted to feel empowered and beautiful, a way I had never felt before.

After my prom, I gained a completely different outlook, almost an epiphany. I realised that my five years in high school weren’t leading to one night, but the rest of my life. Why should I let four years define the rest of my life? This one night was over in a flash, but I had everything else left to come.

I put all of my energy and focus into getting good grades so I could begin the life I wanted to live, starting with my GCSE’s. I had six weeks left when I decided I’d do my exams. Six weeks to study and complete them. It was hard, but nothing could’ve stopped me. I even got an A.

Fast forward to the glorious age of 21. For someone who didn’t know if they would be completing high school, I am proud to say I am now in the second year of my Fashion Journalism degree.

I have a wonderful group of friends and someone special in my life, who I know will give me the chance to wear the dress of my dreams one day.

And call me a planner, but I have already picked out my dress, or at least the style I want. My Mam has also promised to get me this dress, in New York. As much as I would really love to share this with you, it really is bad luck… so you’ll have to wait.

I now know that even though I never wore the dress that I thought would make me feel all of those things, I am.

I am empowered. I am beautiful.


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