When you’re nineteen-years-old, you want to look your age. You want to appear like the mature, college-student that you are- maybe even older. You do not want to look like you’re twelve. Well, for some reason, since I was about sixteen, I have continuously been mistaken for a twelve-year-old. This phenomenon is increasingly common, and I can’t tell you why. It truly bothers me, yet it makes me laugh- after all, twelve is the same distance from five as it is from nineteen. What follows is a collection of the more interesting remarks I’ve received:


It started to bother me when I became an upperclassman in high school…


Librarian: Are you a freshman? You must be nervous coming to such a large school. Do you have any questions- I’d be happy to help!

Actually, I’m a freshmen mentor. I just wanted to ask if you could tell those youngsters in the back to be quiet! Am I carrying a map? No! Am I carrying a freshman backpack (okay, well maybe) Do I look lost, overwhelmed, or confused? I sure don’t think so!


So I thought that once I got to college, people on campus would inevitably assume I was at least a college freshman, but I was wrong…


Attractive Upperclassman in Cafeteria: “Are you a visiting high school student?”

What on earth would cause you to approach me and ask me this?!


But that’s not the only hopeless romance…


Lifeguard at My Brother’s Overnight Camp: “Umm how old are you? You have to be twelve to ride in the ski boat without a life jacket.”

I later found out he was my age (and attractive,) but I doubt your typical college guy would see a twelve-year-old as a potential partner.


There are some benefits…


Horse Racetrack Ticket Agent: “So that’s two adults and a child?”

At least I save my parents $10.


But I don’t necessarily want to be thought of as a child…


Waitress: “We do have a kids menu, you know.”

I didn’t order anything because of my allergies, not because I would’ve rather had chicken nuggets.


Nurse at Camp: “Where is your buddy? Are you okay? What cabin are you in?”

Actually, I am the intern for the American Diabetes Association, not a camper at a camp for kids ages 9-13.

I thought maybe runners naturally looked young- the lean, athletic, no-makeup look- but perhaps I’m too hopeful…


Workout Class Instructor: “Wow, look at that girl in the pink shirt. She’s really getting into this! But how old are you sweetie? This class is for fourteen and up.”

Thanks for making everyone in the class gawk at me.


And then there’s this thing about airports…


Airport Ticket Agent: “We have an unaccompanied minor!” After showing her my license- “Wow, you really look like you’ve twelve.” Then, to her coworker- “How old do you think this little girl looks? She’s actually in college! Can you believe it?!”

No, I can’t.


TSA Agent (as I begin to untie my shoes): “Excuse me, but how old are you?”

Maybe I should be taking advantage this- kids under twelve can leave on their shoes as they go through security.


Another Airport Employee: “Sweetie, do you know where you’re going?”

I am walking with a purpose, passing several people as I go, carrying my Longchamp bag on one shoulder and Vera Bradley duffle on the other, wearing knee-high leather boots, an infinity scarf, and my Kate Spade glasses- what makes her think I am a lost child in need of help?!


And I’m sure they’ll be plenty more to come….



  1. You write about infuriating situations with such humor. Even though I kept saying “oyyy” while reading this, I couldn’t help but laugh as well. You have a gift.


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