Friday, May 23, 2008

Sixteen was Ten Years Ago!

"You look 16." This is a comment I heard recently on my trip to South Carolina. It is not the first and certainly not the worst thing I've heard, but it is bothersome and here's why.

How many people (myself included) look at a sixteen year old and think, now this is a mature, responsible, intelligent adult who knows who she is and what her priorities are; This is a woman who has been refined by experience, has worked hard to receive a quality education, exercises common sense, good judgment, and exudes a confident attitude?

Instead it's more like this: Oh, she's just a kid who doesn't know anything about the world or life and experience; She's probably quite naive and couldn't possibly know who she is, nor could she have any practical knowledge, but hey, she looks cute.

Perhaps I'm wrong to think that 25 or 26 doesn't have the same stigma, but I certainly feel and know completely that I'm extraordinarily different from my 16 year old self.

I've also recently (in the past two months) heard this comment directed toward me: "She's just a kid." Obviously this is more irritating than being told you look like a teenager because it's already blatantly hinting at the stigma.

The summer after I graduated from college, a teenager working at the "drive thru" of a fast food restaurant asked me if I went to Provo High (which was right across the street.) At 21/22, this wasn't quite as much a stretch, but I certainly felt very distanced from my own high school experience over four years and two thousand miles away.

But the absolute worst experience ever happened when Hylan was still working for Chase bank. He had incurred a lot of respect, had a reputable position, and also has so much natural confidence that it's not unrealistic to think he's much older than he really is. Well, I went to visit him one day at work and as I sauntered past a receptionist desk, the girl who was probably in her twenties as well, asked me, "oh, are you here with your father?" I was completely dumbfounded. "You mean Hylan?" I asked questioningly. "Yes." Awkward pause. "Um, no he's my husband."

You tell me, do I really look like a 5 year old? Or a 10 year old? Or maybe 13? And maybe Hylan looks like he's 35? I'm still perplexed by this one, which by the way happened about a year and a half ago.

And not to mention the people at the chiropractor's office several months ago who said to Hylan, "That's a cute young wife you have." They were obviously implying something like, you're sure robbing the cradle, aren't you? wink wink, nudge nudge.

For the record, Hylan is 17 months older than me. He graduated from high school one year before me. I graduated from college one and a half years before him. But somewhere along the way, in perception, he has gained ten years and I've lost ten.

Ah well, what can I do? Perhaps it won't be so bad if in another ten years when I turn 36, people will still think I look 26. In fact, instead of turning 26 in July this year, I think I'll just stay 25 for the rest of my life because it is the perfect age!

Here is a picture of me in June 2000, a couple years older than sixteen at high school graduation. And then a picture of me in December 2007, age 25. A little extra eye make up, cleaner brows, some bangs, pierced ears, and a few extra lines in my face (of course it is an awkward camera angle), but all in all, I guess I look the same but different!


Carrie Lynn said...

Don't feel bad. Last year I chaperoned my sister's fieldtrip to Hersheypark and the girls in my group wanted me to do the age game…where the guy has to guess your age. I hid my wedding rings and smiled and he smiled and said, "14?". Needless to say, he was 11 years off and I won a huge stuffed animal!

David & Emily said...

Wow, I can't believe that girl thought Hylan was your dad... she's nuts. I get everything ranging from 16 to 27... I'm pushing 22... And at BYU during the summers I've been confused for an EFY kid, several times (kid, not counselor!) Oh well!

Emily said...

Good to know I'm not the only one. My mom also reminded me during Christmas break of my Freshman year in college, a waitress in Baltimore at ESPNZone gave me a kids menu and crayons. Now that's just sad!