20 Years Old And I Look Abnormally Young For My Age

I have dealt with this ever since I was a kid. Up until about the age of 3, I developed pretty normally, but as time went on, my growth slowed down a lot. By the time I was 10, I looked about 5 or 6 and by the time I was 13, I looked about 8 or 9. (perhaps even younger) I didn't actually have a growth spurt until I was about 15, and by that age, I still looked about 9, maybe 10. By the time I had graduated high school, I could've passed for a freshman in high school, perhaps even a middle schooler. By the end of high school, I had reached a height of about 5'10'', maybe 5'11''. By this point, I didn't think this whole age perception thing would be a big deal, but it's been affecting me ever since. I am 20 years old, going on 21 (this July) and if I had to take a guess, I would say I look about 15, maybe 16. (even with facial hair) However, I've actually had people tell me I look as young as 14 or even 12. Even some of the kids from my old high school look noticeably older than me and I am a second year college student. My frame is very small too for a 20 year old. And to make matters worse, my voice isn't very deep. I've gotten multiple tests done, including hormone tests and X-RAYS, but every time I've gone, they've found nothing wrong. Apparently, I am perfectly "normal." (which in my opinion is complete BS) What bothers me the most about this problem is the fact that I am not respected as an adult and more often than not, treated as a kid. I've been condescended to on several occasions and it's incredibly embarrassing. This is something I am extremely self conscious about and the comments or insinuations I receive about my appearance only make it worse. I've actually started avoiding social situations as often as I can and don't feel like leaving the house because of this issue. (I live at home and commute to college every day) I feel like a joke to people. Just the other day, I was going to pick up groceries and these two women made a comment about the jean jacket that I was wearing and muttered something about me looking like a "12 year old playing dress up." I typically wear dress shirts, polos, button down shirts and jeans and yet, I am still perceived as a kid by others. I treat others with respect and try to act my age. But I've almost given up and just don't want to try anymore. I am frankly sick of how judgmental some people can be.
ThatGuy1991 ThatGuy1991
26-30, M
9 Responses Apr 23, 2012

Just to expand on my previous response here, this issue seems to have almost vanished entirely. People generally estimate my age to be around 19-22 now (I'm 24), which isn't nearly as problematic as posted this a few years ago. Time has apparently resolved this problem to a certain extent. Having a sense of humor about the matter has helped immensely. Again, thanks guys.

I'm rather surprised this comment thread is still alive and well. I'm about to turn 25 in July. It's wild how fast time flies. A lot my fears from my early 20s, it seems, were a bit exaggerated and unfounded. I truly appreciate the responses all of you have given. While my life has been a bit chaotic and eventful since I posted this back in college, I've managed to find seem much needed stability with an extremely fulfilling job and a newfound ambition to pursue my PhD.

I'll be 58 in 3 months. My experience as a teenager was very much like yours. I was "carded" when buying alcohol CONSTANTLY when I was in my 20's & 30's and it drove me absolutely nuts. The last time anyone asked me for an ID was at a Trader Joe's, where the policy is "card if they're not obviously 40", I was 53 at the time. Made me feel FANTASTIC! I KNOW this doesn't help you right now. I KNOW this situation is maddening for you. I KNOW you hear this all the time, but NOW you're hearing it from someone who was EXACTLY where you are now, when he was your age. I'VE BEEN THERE, AND I PROMISE THAT YOU WILL APPRECIATE THIS AS TIME PASSES. You will. In addition to simply looking young, I have also taken very good care of myself through the years. I'm 6 feet tall and have a BMI of 22. I have no trouble dating women who are 20+ years my junior, and take my word for it, it AIN'T because I'm RICH! ;-) LET ME SAY IT AGAIN, I KNOW YOU HATE THIS. SO DID I. BUT YOU *ABSOLUTELY WILL* HAVE THE LAST LAUGH!

I look young' so please add me lol.

I can completely relate to you. I am a 22 year old woman. People mostly think I am a teenager and twice I've been told I look 12. I've tried so hard to act more mature than I already am, just so people can realize I am not 12 or 17. It is disgustingly depressing. I am not treated like an adult by many, even though I myself also respect others. So I know exactly how you feel don't worry. Sometimes putting my hair a certain way, or my glasses, or dressing in much more fitting clothes I can look older than my age. Heavy makeup looks bad on me, so I can't even accentuate my eyes too much without it looking bad, since my facial features are already very defined. But as a woman I guess it is not as tough, still I feel very disrespected and hate myself! Especially considering the fact that my younger sister who is 18 looks older than me and is treated much more as an adult. I really do loathe myself and why I have to look this way.

Im as well am treated as a kid, even my family members! And Im as well 20. What I do is when Im walking around I try to ignore the comments or listen to my IPod. When Im talking with someone and they comment on how young I am, I just laugh it off. Some people can be rude and not notice it. Always just think about the good part of looking young and not the bad parts. As in when you get older, as in 40, you may still look like 25! Or discounts.. Or just shoving it in the face of those who laugh at you at how young you look at your 40 and they look like grannies or grampas.

@ ayomay, yeah that might be part of it. A lot of people are trying to look younger nowadays. I just find the major lack of physical development I've had over the past few years to be strange. My body looks like the body of a kid who hasn't even hit puberty. The bone structure in my face is hardly noticeable and my jaw is small (perhaps underdeveloped, though I am not sure) My cheek bones are not even visible. I always question whether there really is something wrong with me. In terms of height, I am obviously not small. (5'10'', 5'11'' is average if not slightly above average for an adult male) But if you were to compare me to another guy my age and same height, he might still look bigger than me. I don't know if I am a late bloomer or developer, but it's really not helping me out much. And @mstafford, glad to see someone else is in the same boat as me. I am not really out to impress people or anything, but if that's what it takes in order that I might receive a bit more respect, then so be it. I still find it odd that someone would say I look as young as 12. Sometimes, I feel like that is an exaggeration. I haven't seen many 5'10''/5'11'' 12 year olds with a good amount of facial hair. (well, perhaps some, but they are uncommon) Seeing how big some of these younger kids are nowadays, I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. Maybe 5 years from now, when I am 25, I might look 20, but right now, it isn't so great to be perceived as a little kid.

they're just jealous because they look old but try to look young. we are very similar. i'll be 21 soon and in a dance group, i turned out to be the eldest but they youngest one (which is 18) looks like 25-30 yrs old. <br />
i still pass as a high school student. great things comes with a young look. i often get discounts and freebies. even turn things to my favor because of my looks so be proud of it. <br />
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they won't allow me in places for grownups because they said i'm still a kid. yeah, there are criticisms. it can't be helped but don't let it stop you.

Some people are just plain rude! I can definitely relate to being condescended to or feeling like people are not giving you the respect you deserve as an adult, because they think you are a child. In my job as a compliance auditor in the pharmaceutical industry, it is kind of funny because people don't know what to expect from me when I come in to do audits. "George, there's a little gal here to see you". I'm 31. But it can work in my favor sometimes because when I do the great job that I do (or even a mediocre job), people get REALLY impressed, perhaps because they didn't expect much. Don't shut down (avoid social situations), you just have to keep passing off the negativity around you, usually if you don't react to the rudeness people realize they are being ***** and it can send them back-pedaling.