How I Became Comfortable In My Own Skin, Even Though I Look Much Younger Than I Am

September 10, 2013  |  


I used to hate it. When I was 18 people thought I was 14. When I was 21 people still thought I was 14.

I was GROWN. I was living on my own away at college, paying my own bills (for the most part), staying out as late as I wanted. I thought makeup would do the trick so I wore more mascara and eyeliner. It was a semi-successful idea for nights out clubbin’ but in the day-to-day scheme of things, I apparently had a childlike quality to those who didn’t know me.

It was frustrating. Here I was trying to assert myself as an adult, feeling as though I was really playing the part well, but I was still coming off as a child, or better yet, a pre-teen.

There were days when I brushed it off as just my plight in life, but then there were other days. By that I mean, days when I felt as if people refused to take me seriously because I had a baby face. They looked at me as if they wanted to pinch my cheeks, pat me on the bottom and send me outside to play in the sandbox. It was frustrating, annoying, and confusing.

I was wearing suits, NICE ones too. I prepared speeches for the events that required as much, and still people acted like I stumbled in the wrong place.

But now a little older and wiser, I’ve figured some things out. When I was looking to be accepted as an adult, that’s when I suffered the most frustration because I wasn’t really one yet. And honestly, I don’t think I really ventured into real “grown-up” territory until about 24 or 25 anyway.

Someone once said, “When you stop wanting things so badly, life comes to you.”

When I started simply living my life as a 20-something, shifting my focus from how others saw me to how I saw myself, I started to embrace my younger look, and the crazy thing is, people started to embrace my adulthood. The moment I left my looks alone, started picking out the things I liked about my appearance, started counting down the perks of looking so young, that was the moment I started feeling much less self-conscious. I liked me, and I knew what I was capable of and how intelligent I was. How young or old someone looks can never dictate what’s in their mind and heart.

Once I started walking in confidence instead of self-consciousness, age and looks were no longer a factor. I realized that it had only been an issue because I saw it as one. I engaged in negative self-talk while others were simply marveling at my youth. It wasn’t a curse. It was a blessing.

I walked into the local deli back in May and the owner asked if I had just graduated from the high school in town. I laughed and said, “No sir. I’ve already graduated college.”

His eyes bugged out of his head. The lady cashier said, “Oh my gosh! Wow! I thought you were like 16!”

I smiled and said, “I know. I get that all the time but I’m actually 27.”

They both threw their hands up and shouted loudly, “No way!”

“God BLESS you, young lady,” the deli owner said in disbelief.

I cracked up, thanked him and silently praised Jesus for really awesome genes. I’m looking forward to looking 21 at 40.

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  • Suzuki35

    exactly my story as well and I can say now ive hit 42 (next month) and I STILL look much younger. last year more 18-23 year olds asked me out than ever before in my life! (and I even went out with one!) I didn’t even look past puberty though in my late 20’s .. I was same as the author… 25 looking 15 (not even 18!) as any job I tried to get they told me to get a workers permit! as if I wasn’t 16!!! many thought I had quit highschool to work and said they felt sorry for me!!! I was a bank teller and a woman exclaimed “oh is this “bring your daughter to work day?” in all seriousness! she meant it…. I was 26
    I enjoy it but at the same time my dating life has been wrecked…. I cant get either age or my same age to really be with me……..younger and its just for “fun” to them,…they are “cool” when they tell their friends they are dating a hot 40 year old who pays for stuff……. mostly I got asked out by SERIOUS MARRIAGE MINDED always 33-35 year old men who saw my clock ticking and thought damned! she cant have all my children!!!!(they said they thought I was 23) at about age 40 I started to resign myself to looking for men in their 50’s! who are divorced and have already had all their children grown.. and I can be the “younger prize” at least! and not wanted for child bearing.. what a mess..blessing and curse. harder to get respect at work too and be taken seriously…

  • If I wore a hat, t-shirt, and a pair of cargo shorts, I could pass for a 20 year old. If I wore some nice shoes, jeans, nice shirt, and a blazer, and got a hair cut, I would look my age or a little older.

    • Suzuki35

      me too. I am wondering how much longer I can pull off my young look with clothes…I am keeping an eye on it because I don’t want to look ridiculous! no wrinkles yet.. but when I do I wont be running around with my backpack and “forever 21” clothes (love that store) and having to explain myself to people too is awkward.. they may think oh you look young so you are also “trying to ” “be something youre not” but it IS ME all the way. so its uncomfortable… I am NOT ‘acting” its only me…all me! 42 next month… asked out by 20 year olds …. they say they thought I was 23….oldest I got was 30….. some say the age “catches up to you” and gap gets closed faster and that’s hard to deal with… if I looked 23 just 2 years ago and look old next year it will be hard to face people I feel like I JUST saw…hard to explain but yeah.. hearing I look 30 when a short time ago it never went past 23 means change is fast… think about it even with celebrities,even with all their millions… they can look awesome and young at 42… but 46..seems to be a turning point and that’s just 4 years away for me… the 22 year old I dated last year might see me a short time from now about town and think wtf… I know its vain but when its been a PART of your life your WHOLE life so far……

  • Girly

    I know exactly how you feel. I am 32 but look way younger, and I run my own business. All of my employees are 40+.

    I’ll appoint an employee to go talk to a new client if I feel it will make them take the business more seriously. The client always assume that the employee running the show… Until it’s decision making time, when they say, “I don’t know, you have to ask her. She’s the boss.” (meaning me)

    The other night, a client remarked how cute it was that he had referred to me as the boss. My employee corrected her and said…um she really is…


  • Trueblue711

    As someone who is still coping with this on a daily basis, this article was a refreshing thing to find. I’ve accepted my youthful looks and am happy with myself, but it still can be difficult to deal with at times. At the end of the day though, there’s nothing I can do and wisdom can be a great way for people to see your true age.

  • nessquick

    omg I sympathize with you. haha. I am 25 years old, and the other day this man asked me what HS I go to. I once got hit on by a senior in HS, he thought I was 16. To me I thought I looked my age, but apparently not. I’m only 5’4 and chubby cheeks (like Lucy Hale ). So maybe that’s why.

  • Samantha Steinruck

    I am 32 working on 33 I am a mom to three beautiful kids and a wife and some people have thought me to be under 18 it is really annoying but I guess it’s better then looking a lot older then my actual age I am just try to get to the point when I can just except it gracefully

  • Samantha Steinruck

    This is so my story as well I am 32 years old and I get mistaken for much younger all the time .I am a mom of three kids my oldest son is 13 yrs old and this summer I had taken him to the library to sign him up for a library card and the lady is talking to us and explaining every thing and then looks at me and says you know you have to be atleast 18 to sign up for a library card. . I was like really I am 31 yrs old and his mom , she just laughed it off and said oh big compliment of the day but to mr it was like a sock to the stomach

  • Annonymous

    Yeah its surprising how it happens like that

  • Yea I had a guy (who was probably a few years younger than me) ask me if I had taken off of school today even though I am actually 25 (will be 26 next month). I hate still looking like a kid- I don’t feel people take me seriously at all.

  • Megan

    I’m 22, and I’m told I look 16 almost on the daily. It drives me insane, but lately I’ve been trying to overlook it and take it as a compliment. Your post just made me feel better about my youthful appearance. I’m just going to accept it, be happy I don’t look aged beyond my years, and move on. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • Anna

    i have almost the same story, i look younger than 27 ( born in 1986), i AM ONLY 4″11.
    Everybody still says i dont look like 27 more like 19 sometimes 17

    • Michelle

      I am the same age as you and the same height. People tell me I look either from 12-16!

  • jenny

    Dealt with the same issue ,ppl your own age or close to it talking to u as if u were a child lol

  • acd

    I get this all the time. I’m 25 and people really do think I’m 14… sometimes even younger. I’m also petite and slim with a high voice, so it all combines to make people think I’m a child. It can be annoying because people speak to me as if I’m not in graduate school, but I’m learning to take it all in stride.

  • Melissa

    that touched me deeply bc I can relate. Im 21 but look 15 bc I’m short.

  • Kaho’olawe

    I’m 27, but people are always mistaking me as a teenager because of my youthful looking face. I hate it. People are always telling me that when I am older I will appreciate it, but that is just them projecting. Between having to deal with street harassment from pre-teen boys to old men, disrespect from customers in jobs where I have worked for looking young AND being a woman, receiving poor customer service at many places, always having people ask me, “Are you in school?”, having people treat me like a child, not being taken seriously, being referred to as a ‘girl’ and ‘young lady’ etc. I would rather not look as young as I do.

    • Kaho’olawe

      When I was working at a job at 21, a coworker who was in high school called me ‘kiddo’. I was like, “Hold up! I’m 21-years-old!”

    • Sara

      Yes, every word of this. I’m sooo sick of hearing “you’ll love it when you’re older”. I don’t WANT to be 40 and look 20, no thanks. 40 and look 30, okay, but younger than that and I think it’s just creepy. I wish I looked my age. I can’t even go to bars without nearly having a panic attack from the anticipated (inevitable) humiliation. And I enjoy drinking. It’s so depressing.

  • kb

    I am in my late 30s and get mistaken for my 20s. Runs in the Fam, I would NEVER,EVER want to change it but, it does mean I get disrespected a lot. My cuz agrees too, whether is some young girls, who want to try you or a colleague at work, who dismiss your input,etc. I look young, but the words that come out of my mouth aren’t, is always like who does she think she is, and what can she know? But it’s ok I like looking young 🙂 .

  • Caramel Empress

    Youthful looks run in my family. A few years ago a shop assistant point blank refused to sell my mother cigarettes because she was “underage” she even brought me to the shop to show she has a big daughter he STILL didn’t believe her! she was 40 years old lol! I am 28 and have struggled with this issue my entire 20’s I hated being looked upon as a “little girl” especially when I became a mother at 23, older women seemed to feel they had the right to school me on how to parent my child since I appeared barely out of “school” myself or so they assumed! Now that I am knocking on the door of the big 3-0 I have finally learnt to embrace the fountain of youth bestowed upon me. Looking young is definatley a gift n a curse!

  • Caramel Empress

    Youthful looks run in my family. A few years ago a shop assistant point blank refused to sell my mother cigarettes because she was “underage” she even brought me to the shop to show she has a big daughter he STILL didn’t believe her! she was 40 years old lol! I am 28 and have struggled with this issue my entire 20’s I hated being looked upon as a “little girl” especially when I became a mother at 23, older women seemed to feel they had the right to school me on how to parent my child since I appeared barely out of “school” myself or so they assumed! Now that I am knocking on the door of the big 3-0 I have finally learnt to embrace the fountain of youth bestowed upon me. Looking young is definatley a gift n a curse!

  • Susie

    hhhh, sometimes it is good looking younger, sometimes it isn’t ! I am 18 and ppl keep telling me I look like a 14-yo-old girl… I think its in my DNA cuz my mom is 41 and damn she looks 25 ! When we used to go for a walk people was saying “is that your big sister?” lol !

    • Suzuki35

      yep my friends hated me too…same age as me.. and one time my boyfriend said “oh is that your mom?” my friend was mortified and actually cried…

  • Jenae’

    I can totally relate to this article as well as everyone’s comments. It makes me feel good to know I am not alone. I am 32 years old and I always get mistaken for my late teens or early twenties. I have a 8 year old daughter and everyone thinks she’s my little sister. Sometimes I get so frustrated because I don’t feel like people take me seriously but then I am also blessed to look so youthful.

  • Lala

    Age is but a number. I am 40 with a 21 year old son who often gets mistaken for his sister and as nice as that is, I’m proud of being my age, whether I look it or not. And more often than not, not looking my age has caused more problems than necessary. It gets annoying to be carded everywhere I go, it gets tiring when I have to do things with my son, and automatically get immediately get treated like a clueless 20 something until they find out I’m his mom and then attitudes change, and most annoying is having children hitting on me. So we can brag about looking young, but at times, I wish I had a wrinkle or two!!

  • Titi

    I agree! I am 32 and I go through this too, Buy hey, we will be looking like we are in our 20’s and really in our 40″s. I have embraced it! I just told an 18 year old the same thing. She said People always tell her she looks like she is 14. I told her to take it as a compliment and embrace it.

  • Rokia

    I am 24 and I used to work in a school as a French assistant in London and the teachers yelled at me or looked at me. It was annoying to hear “oh sorry you like a pupil, you have a baby face it’s cute…” Once I wanted to buy Fight Club and the cashier girl asked me for my ID, she was quite embarrassed! I was 22 at that time.
    It can be a good thing but I also think that this is why men won’t talk to me LOL.

  • Guest360

    Thank you for recounting my whole lifes story lol. I ALWAYS get the “you look like a freshman in high school” remark even though I’m a senior in college. It can definitely be frustrating. Maybe once I hit 30 I’ll love the fact that I look 20 but as of now, I feel like my baby face prevents some people of thinking of me as the adult I am, namely my family.

  • currvalicious

    I’ve gotten that most my adult life as well. I’m now a first time Mom at age 40, however I don’t look a day out of my late twenties. I love it & appreciate it now, however when I was actually in my twenties not so much. I attribute it to good genes, a youthful spirit, as well as taking care of my mind, body & soul. #nocrowsfeetoverhere!

    • Suzuki35

      hope for me! I am 40 and have never had a child… and feel like that clock is ticking. its now or never soon…. I mean I will be 42 next month ,but you know when you can SENSE your own body right.. I FEEL very fertile! it goes with the whole LOOKING decades younger thing… I actually believe our wombs are younger too….

  • Sportsdoc

    WOW. I can totally relate. I am a 32 year old physician and when I walk into the room some people say “You look like a little girl!” They don’t realize that it is insulting to tell a grown woman that she looks like a child. I have to just shrug it off and continue to age gracefully. I can’t wait for the looks like 21 but actually 40 moment just like in the article!

    • Tell me about it. A pharmacist told me that she thought I was 10 even though I am almost 26. Why do people think it is ok to say something like that??

      • Aisha

        I go through the same thing. I think people either don’t know what to say or they realize they look old as hell for their age because even the most mature looking 10 year old doesn’t look 26 unless something is wrong hormonally. So I think people just run their mouths.

      • Suzuki35

        lol I know.. I had absolutely NO CHEST.. I was 25 when my mother said to me “youre starting to get breasts!” LOL I will never forget
        I wasn’t wearing a bra..she said maybe I should start to
        the only reason I was getting them then was weight gain (double AA bra size)
        now I am almost 42 and due to lots of weight gain have a chest! an awesome one hahaha
        but still never passed a B cup. they look huge to ME

    • Suzuki35

      it came for me!! it is great!!

  • NaturalJem

    i get that often, people assume i’m like 18 but i’m over 25. I just laugh it off…but as the saying goes “black don’t crack” lol

    • Suzuki35

      some whites don’t either lol

  • Di Mo

    Same thing happens to me a lot and I am 32. When I had a part time job working at a local department store my co workers who were in their teens and 20s thought I was their age. Little did they know that I not only had graduated from college, but also grad school. Appreciate it while you can!

  • NIC.ED

    soooooooo me!!! this is a good one – i LOVE looking the way i do but and not down for the way ppl look at me in astonishment when i say im 28 – its like they give a diff kind of respect after that b/c they assumed i was some child