That gold and glittery class rings now sits in the dark, collecting dust since you last wore it years ago. The prom dress has succumbed to the same gloomy fate – hundreds of dollars spent on it, only to have it wrapped in a bag and put back into the closet of your childhood bedroom. You try to sell it for a little less than you bought it, but no one is willing to pay hundreds for a USED dress. Its sequined top and flashy material sit unsparkling in the dark of the closet. The flowers from prom are most likely ash in the earth now, and the jewelry worn that night most likely sits close to the class ring, unworn since its one and only debut. Outside of your room is a photo of you on the wall, all primmed and perfect, 18 years old. Hundreds were spent on your senior photos, only to be passed by day by day, sometimes without a second glance or any glance at all.
Were these high school momentos all worth the hundreds spent on them? Or do you wish you would have spent less money, and put more focus on just having fun? This is a question I asked a variety of different students and adults. These people are from varying social groups, and range from newly out of high school to the age of 25. I wanted to stay within my generation, as the high school experience may have been different for those that are older. Essentially, when I asked the question, I wanted the pool of people answering to know exactly what I was talking about.
Answers varied, and points were well made. After a while, I started to notice some patterns or trends in the way people were answering the question.
First of all, most of the people I spoke to did not get a class ring, and did not regret that choice whatsoever. Those who did get one said that it was a waste to buy, because who is going to flash around a ring for the rest of their life that represents who they were in high school? Most lost it or shoved it somewhere, no longer to be worn or seen.
As for the extravagance that is prom, this is where I noticed the biggest patterns in answers from my participants. Those who had spent a lot to look perfect on their prom night seemed to regret the extreme amount of money they spent on the objects of prom, and wished they would have focused more on the experience and just had fun at prom, rather than running to the bathroom mirror every half hour or so to make sure their hair and makeup was still top notch. Those who had opted to borrow or pay a cheap amount for a used dress, and may have had their sister do their hair, did not regret the small amount of money spent on prom. They said it was worth it, and the experience was a great one. As one participant stated, “You could get a Sioux falls hooker for a night for the price of a prom rental tux.” (Said in jest, of course.)
When asked about senior photos, again, those who had spent little on them seemed to be more satisfied now with that choice. Those who had spent a lot said that yes, they were of good quality, but for the amount of times they were looked at now years later, that the money spent wasn’t worth it. In the end, a picture is just a picture. Your grandkids are going to be more thrilled that there is even just a picture of you when you were 18. Their main focus will not be on the quality or quantity of the photos.
All in all, yes, at the time, the ring, dress, photos, etc. may have been very important at the time, but years down the road, they serve little purpose in our lives now besides as a small momento of high school memories. In the end, aren’t the experiences worth more than the objects, anyway?