Reasons why looking young sucks (a lot)

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This is a photo of me on my 8th birthday but in all honesty it could have been taken about three days ago

Hi everyone, I’m Sophie and despite being 25 years old, I look about 10. Life ain’t easy when the girls from the local secondary school could easily pass for your older sisters and the simple task of buying a 15-rated movie turns into an epic quest. Here’s why looking young isn’t fun…

1) People who come to your house genuinely think you are a small child

I rent a flat with my boyfriend, like an actual proper ADULT, but I can guarantee you that if the gas man comes to read the meter or the postman needs a signature for a parcel, I’ll be asked “Is your mum home, love?” NO SHE’S NOT, BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T LIVE HERE.

Back in August, I booked for a window cleaner to come and give some TLC to our grubby double glazing (which is possibly the least exciting thing I have ever arranged) and felt very happy when I realised he hadn’t asked the dreaded question. Until five minutes later, of course, when he instead wondered if I was “enjoying the summer holidays”. Ugh.

2) In any club or pub situation, you will ALWAYS be the only friend to get IDed

The bouncer will look at you suspiciously, as if you’re trying to smuggle in some sort of illegal substance or work out the best way to steal all their crates of Carling. You’ll start to feel guilty despite being a legal drinker since 2008 and start to wonder, panicked, if you actually ARE the age you think you are or whether – by some crazy occurence – you have developed memory loss and in fact are only 17.

At this point the self-doubt really kicks in for me, and I tend to start breathing slightly faster through nerves whilst occasionally trying to look away nonchalantly, as if looking the doorman in the eye signifies a guilty party. I also begin to feel a bit defensive and I’m not sure whether it’s of myself or of an underage me that no longer exists. Doorman, PLZ. If I was a genuine, bona-fide 17 year-old trying to get into your dumb nightclub, I’d at least have borrowed a fake ID that said I was 18-19 – I wouldn’t jump straight to 25. What kind of a moron do you think I am?

3) Bus drivers will automatically offer you a child rate but then neglect to ask why you’re not at school

Okay, bear with me on this one. I may be the only fresh-faced person this concerns but I have to ask: WHY, after giving me a child’s ticket (which suggests I am 15 or below, by the way) at 2pm on a Thursday, don’t bus drivers at least feign worry over the fact that I am quite clearly a freaking TRUANT?! Why don’t they ask if I’m okay, or whether I’m just going to the dentist or something? Where are my parents? Why don’t I have my uniform on?! I start to create a sorrowful backstory for myself as the journey continues and I exit the bus feeling pretty sad for 15 year-old Sophie, who just wanted someone to notice her truant-y situation and help out. Jeez.

4) You’ll spend ages on your make-up for nights out…but the payback is minimal

I rarely go ‘out’ out (you know, OUT out) but when I do, I spend quite a while on my make-up and hair and I usually manage to leave the house thinking “Yeah. You did well. We’ll show those bouncers who’s 17.” But guess what? The bouncers STILL hound me for ID and as photos inevitably pop up on Facebook I am stunned by the fact that I look EXACTLY THE SAME AS NORMAL.The ‘smokey eye’ look I was so happy about at 8pm is barely visible and the abundance of sticky foundation on my cheeks has done nothing other than make me look slightly more orange than usual. In short, I still look like a 14 year-old.

5) You’re tired of people at work asking if you’re doing an internship

I’VE BEEN HERE SINCE FEBRUARY, MARGARET. I am a fully-functioning member of the team and I do a lot and I get paid each month and that is the long and short of it. “Oh, I thought you were on work experience!” says Mike in the staff room. You’ll try to make a joke out of it – which gets kind of dull past the third or fourth attempt – and will end up saying something along the lines of “I do look young – but I’m sure I’ll appreciate it when I’m 40, hehe!” Hahahaha. HAAAA.

6) You worry if you will ever look like a normal human being or just a 12 year-old with wrinkles

At the moment I probably could pass for a very young teen, which would be great if I worked in Hollywood but I don’t, so it’s not. I have waited for my ‘hot twenties’ phase to come along, and it hasn’t. I remember watching movies with Cameron Diaz and Anne Hathaway in them and thinking “Wow, I wonder what I’ll look like at that age.” I pictured a mid-twenties transformation, where I woke up one morning looking a bit like Cheryl Cole. It didn’t happen. If anything, I am just a slightly more tired and ugly-looking version of my 16 year-old self. I fear that my ageing process will mostly involve going from looking like a young teen to looking a young teen with wrinkles and eye creases, which will just serve to confuse people even more than my current appearance does.

7) If you try to wear something cute or young-looking, it backfires

When I was 14, one of my friends told one of my other friends that it really embarrassed her when I wore bright green Donald Duck tees ‘ironically’ because I didn’t look old enough for it to actually seem ironic. The other friend told me and I was HURT but upon reflection several hours later I realised friend no. 1 was in fact both correct and rather observant.

“You just wait ’til I’m 18,” I thought, “I’ll be wearing Hello Kitty merchandise left, right and centre.” However, my eighteenth birthday came and went and I still didn’t quite feel I looked ‘old’ enough to pull off clothing featuring a Japanese feline. Seven years passed in more or less the same fashion and I am still very much aware that if I wear a t-shirt with Mickey Mouse on it, someone WILL mistake me for a small girl named Maisie.

8) You look 16 but act 25 and it confuses people

Between the ages of 23 and 24, I started saying “Take care!” to people, completely sincerely. “Take care!” I say, as my mum drives away. “You take care!” I smile, as I put down the phone to someone at work. “Take care” is not in the 16 year-old dictionary. It’s just not. As a result, I can always tell people are baffled when I say things like this.

If you’re old-but-look-young, other things that freak people out include: worrying about boys on bicycles who aren’t wearing helmets and wincing when they dash across the road without looking, saying things like “Ah, lovely!” to the sales assistant in Marks and Spencer when she tells you the cardigan you wanted is back in stock, and occasionally finding Strictly Come Dancing to be acceptable Saturday night entertainment.

9) Boys on the bus think you’re their peer

“Hey, er…haven’t I seen you in my media class?” No. You haven’t. Is there anything more depressing? For a good year, I worked in my local town centre, which happened to house the local sixth form college and meant my trip to work involved the same bus and the same route I’d taken daily throughout 2007 and 2008. I guess in a way it’s nice to know you’ve barely changed between then and now – but in another way it feels stagnant and dull and makes you wonder whether you should just MOVE TO CHINA and start a new life where you wear pencil skirts and have a bob and work 14-hour days.

10) Every time you drive your car, you wonder if the police will think you are a minor

Maybe they will pull you over. Maybe they will think you have stolen the car. I have actually had nightmares about this, in which I am 12, have nicked a vehicle, and am driving around hitting lamp posts and trying to avoid the police cars that are tailing me. What is wrong with me?! I do have a genuine fear that one day somebody WILL crash their car whilst trying to work out who the small child driving a Hyundai Getz is.

11) It’s hard to be taken 100% seriously

You’re kind of past the point where people call you “cute” but there’s still an element of patronising that takes place from time to time – even from yourself. I regularly have to remind myself that I am 25. I have a car and I rent a home and I live with my boyfriend and we want a cat. I am five years away from the big ’30’, AKA the age that everyone on F.R.I.E.N.D.S cried when they reached. I am older than both Kristen Stewart and Margot Robbie. I could have a five year-old child and not have been a teen mom. I don’t feel my age half the time, but I AM my age. Sometimes I can do a lot more than I give myself credit for.

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