As an 18-year-old whom everyone mistakes for a middle schooler, I know the struggle of looking very young for my age. Most people wouldn't even believe I'm 16, let alone my actual age. Most people are very nice about it and quietly judge among themselves, but every once in a while I get boisterous, nosy people who just have to know more. Over the years, I have compiled a list of the best responses from others during many awkward encounters, usually followed by embarrassed smiles after pulling out my driver's license for proof.
1. "Would you like a kids menu?"
No, thank you. Wait... it comes with a sundae? Why yes, yes I am 12 and under. I'll take the blue, red, and green crayons.
2. "Are you sure you're 18?"
The classic. You win, society. I don't actually know my own age.
3. "Is this your older brother?"
Unfortunately, the "young gene" only hit one of us in my family, and even though my brother is five-years younger than me, people insist he is my older brother.
4. "Wow, you know how to hide your age well!"
Quickly followed by an awkward thank you and crimson face.
5. "It's OK, you didn't know any better."
Sometimes, it comes in handy. When you mess up, people give you a break because they assume you were too young to know.
6. "Should you really be driving without an adult?"
I am an adult, thank you very much. *cue fishing for license*
7. "Are you on campus visiting your sibling today?"
No... I am a college student.
8. "Did you ever like, skip a grade or something?"
This usually follows number seven. Although I wish I was a kid genius, I cannot take that kind of credit.
9. "You do know you have to be at least 18 to apply for this job, right?"
This one always makes me laugh. Don't you have my birth date on the application already?
10. "Well, you'll be thankful when you're older."
While sympathetic and kind, this remark is the classic attempt to spare feelings after an awkward conversation. I just hope they're right and someday, I'll be at a college reunion and the life of the party. Literally.
Although looking young is definitely a struggle, there are some benefits. You can get into movies, amusement parks, and other expensive places for a cheaper fee. Even when most of your friend group refers to you so affectionately as "the baby," the nickname gives you room to let loose and let your inner child show through. Also, if you've got a petite frame to match your baby face, no one will judge you when you shop in the kids section to get the discount (which is a must for shoes and jeans).
In this day and age, it really is hard to tell how old anyone truly is, especially when you have 12 year-olds that know how to contour. The best thing that works in the "real world" is to throw back your shoulders, hold your head up high, and prove to the world that behind your baby face is a mind full of smarts and creativity.