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The Glories Of Looking Young

Question on Quora:

I’m starting college soon, I don’t feel like I look old enough to be going, I’m 16 and about 5’4 but I look about 13. Is this normal?

My answer:

I’m barely 5′3. When I was 22 and was substitute teaching at a school I’d never been before, a belligerent sixth grader demanded to see my driver’s license because he didn’t believe that I was old enough to teach.

My first year of full-time teaching, four related incidents happened. I overheard a sixth grader ask a teacher if I was a teacher or a student (I was walking by myself down the hall at the time). At a PTA meeting, a disgruntled parent (not a parent of any of my students) was crabbing about all the things wrong with the school, and mentioned “a teacher who looks like a kid” (me; I wasn’t at the meeting, a colleague told me about it later). That summer, I was working in my classroom. I was the only teacher there. At one point, the custodian told me that one of the contract workers approached him with concern, telling him he thought one of the kids was roaming around the school.

You guessed it. Me again.

When I was 34, my then-fiancee and I were out to eat a restaurant, and the waiter (who couldn’t have been more than 20 years old) called him a “young man” and me a “young lady.” Amused, I asked him how old he thought we were. His best guess was early 20’s.

About five, six years ago, I was trying to purchase small canisters of propane for the small stove we had. The kid – ahem, I mean, young man – carded me.

He. Carded. Me.


He was at least mildly surprised when he saw my DOB.

Last summer, just to make myself feel good, I asked a college student who was working a cave tour how old she thought I was. She guessed maybe 32?

She about fell on the floor when I told her I was 47.

Looking much younger than my age has been normal for me all my life.

It may frustrate you now, but trust me – one day you’ll get a kick out making people’s jaws drop open.

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