Me, age 19.
I’m getting ready to turn 25 next month, but I don’t look like it at all. Truth be told, I don’t feel like I’ve aged a day since my 19th birthday.
While looking 10 years younger is flattering when you’re pushing 50, it’s a downright challenge during your mid-twenties. My baby face and petite frame have caused me to look younger than I actually am throughout most of my teenage years and so far all of my young adult life.
Add in the fact that I don’t usually wear a lot of makeup (on a good day, you’ll find me wearing eyebrow pencil and mascara) and will sometimes switch out my contacts for glasses, and nothing helps my Benjamin Button (except I wasn’t born old-looking) situation.
When the waiter comes, I know to automatically take out my ID even if he breezes through everybody else’s drink orders without carding them. If I had a dime for every time someone told me that I would appreciate my girlish looks when I got older, I probably wouldn’t have to work full-time.
Although I’ve found that people have stopped asking me what grade I’m in and are now asking me what year I am in college, which I guess is an improvement, it’s still not enough. Here’s a peep into the curse and the blessing of looking younger than I really am.
It’s Hard to Be Taken Seriously
One time I was leaving work for lunch when I spotted this huge rat dying right outside of my office building. To ensure I wasn’t seeing things (I mean, I’ve never seen a rat that size in real life), I asked a guy who happened to be leaving at the same time if he had seen it too.
He appeared to be in mid-conversation on his cell phone (I didn’t care, I just wanted to make sure he could save me in case the rat decided to come back to life) and he quickly replied to whoever he was on the phone with, “Whoa, babe, this little girl just pointed out the biggest rat!”
In my mind I was like, Are you serious, man? I’m dressed in business casual attire, wearing my ID badge just like you are, so why would you refer to me as a little girl? (I’m getting angry all over again as I write this).
About 2 or 3 years ago, my mom asked me to drop something off at a friend’s house. I ended up going to the wrong house and the woman who answered the door asked me if I were a Girl Scout. I had to be either 22 or 23 at the time. A Girl Scout? Really?
I also feel like my credibility is questioned at work, especially when I first started. The fact that I’m also a Black woman can also be called into play, but I’m not going to go there. One of my colleagues (an older woman) is stuck on referring to me as “Little Jamie” or calling me a baby, thinking that it’s cute. But it’s not.
Me, age 23
Man, it is hard to get hit on by men my own age. When I was in college, it was different, because we all knew that we were around the same age. However now that I’m in the real world, I’m usually getting hit on by younger college students or older high school students.
When I tell guys my age, their eyes widen and reply with some variation of “Oh, whattt?? I thought you were (subtract 6 or 7 years).” It’s not until we have a decent conversation that they realize that I’m just as old as they are.
Either that or somebody signals the young guys, sans 21-or-over drinking bracelet, to come and spit game at me. All I’m saying is if you’re not old enough to buy me a drink, then you’re not old enough for me. Le sigh.
I Look Like I Belong with Teenagers
Now this has been going on for a while. I can’t remember how many times I’ve volunteered (as an adult) with middle school or high school students and a teacher or an older supervisor will approach me and say, “Girl, I thought you were one of the students.” And in my mind (again), I’m thinking, “No, I’m actually 10 years older than they are. I’ve graduated from high school and college. I work full-time, have my own place, and pay my own bills just like you do.”
However, the fact that I look the same age (or younger) than today’s teenagers isn’t entirely my fault. Have you seen the teenagers these days? They’re looking older and older at younger ages. I don’t remember my friends and I looking so grown at those ages. Anyways, I digress.
With my round cheeks and 5’2 height, I usually get the “cute,” “innocent” or “adorable” compliments. While that’s good and all, sometimes I just want to be fine and sexy. Is that too much to ask?
While I gripe about the setbacks that I face due to my naturally anti-aging skin, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is who I am and I’m happy with that. I love the woman that I’ve become, just as much as the little girl that I used to be. I can’t pretend to be somebody that I’m not, because it’s important for me to stay true to myself. If a person feels some type of way about my looks, then they can keep it moving.
On a positive note, there are some upsides to my internal fountain of youth. I can usually get away with spending less money by buying children’s items, such as clothes, kid’s meals and boys’ tennis shoes. I secretly hold the opportunity to surprise people with my mature and knowledgeable personality after they’ve falsely assumed that I was a woman-child. And not to be vain, but I feel like I’ll be fine as wine when I get older.