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Looking Young

It’s my fourth day vacationing in China. Twice so far I got mistaken for being younger than my biological age.

I’m not happy about it even though I know another person in my shoes might take the “Oh you look so young” comment as a compliment rather than something bad. My knee-jerk reaction was to be embarrassed that I don’t look my age.

I felt that emotion even more deeply because I’m currently in a foreign country where I’m noticing the people here are different and I’m a stranger to their cultural rules, so there is that weight of pressure to fit in. But to fit in is impossible since I’m not one of them.

The impression I had was I am obviously a tourist to locals in Beijing. I think my own perception is biased, though, since I keep associating my apparently youthful appearance with how much I stand out as a foreigner. And it really was only two people who mistook me for a younger age, so it’s not like literally every person I interacted with thus far has made the same mistake too. Also, no one actually outright said to me, “You really don’t look your age”, but I automatically assumed that is what people jumped to after realizing I was older than they expected. This one persistant thought made me self-conscious of what their ideal of what they assumed someone of my actual age is “supposed” to look like.

The first situation occurred at a tea shop where one of the sales ladies inquired about how old I was and if I already graduated from college, as I seemed to be “so young” (according to her). I found her remark to be surprising since I had been thinking she didn’t look much older than me either. The second situation was an interaction my mom had with a sales woman who asked her if I was 15 years old. When my mom recounted the story to me, I heard her wrong and thought the sales woman believed I was 25. I was relieved the woman guessed so close to my actual age but then I caught my mistake. 15 years old! Really???

Have you ever been mistaken for a younger age in another country? How did you feel about it?

P.S. – The featured photo is me lol. Personally I think I look like a jetlagged smiling zombie…That was taken hours after I got off the plane. Also my eyes seem strange since I was looking at the actual camera lens and that photographed weird on camera…


13 thoughts on “Looking Young

  1. Hope you’re enjoying your trip!
    Interestingly, I still love having my babyface when I’m with my peers or older, but sometimes I feel a little self-conscious being around my high school volleyball girls that I coach since 90% of them are taller than me and my head coach jokes about putting me in a jersey whenever we’re losing.
    Also, I think people just say fluff sometimes to make conversation. I had someone in Asia call me pretty to my mother even though I looked very unkempt that day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am having a good time in China! Of course there are some things I don’t like but I guess that happens with any vacation spot. Maybe I should write a blog post about that…

      In the long run, I think having a babyface is a good thing. Imagine being 50ish someday and you still look that young, hehe.

      I get that sense too about people saying things in conversation just for conversation’s sake.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cute picture! Age and looking your age are all very strange concepts haha. I remember we talked a bit about this in a recent comment thread. When I’m around adults I don’t feel entirely comfortable around, I instantly become youthful, very smiley like a little kid, a little nervous, quite shy. Some Asian adults, because I’m even more so around them as I’m uncomfortable with speaking Korean and the culture norms, wonder if I’m still in school. Otherwise, if I’m just wandering around minding my own business, I often get mistaken as much older. More often than not people will think I’m older than my age. It’s also because I have a bigger frame? Not a big frame, but I am just a bit bigger? So often, they think I’m the older child. Sometimes, they think I already have children or I’m actually the mom of my older sister, who looks young, so… =_= yup this topic…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep lol this is a topic we are both familiar with discussing. The same thing happens to me when I’m around adults who are much older than me. Especially in the tour group I am in now… I am the only young adult! 😱 So I haven’t really approached anyone and mostly stuck with my parents. I just find it so hard to act normal when the adults have a generational gap with me. Also the language barrier because I’m not fluent in Mandarin and am always a little afraid they’ll say something directly to me that I won’t understand or I’ll get tongue tied with not knowing how to say a certain word.

      Aww, it’s just as a downer when people think you’re older than you are. 😕 People often want to ask if I have a boyfriend or if I’m married…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah that’s awkward… Do you think it’d be more or less fun or about the same if there were more people around your age there? It’d obviously be way more fun if I were there 😀
        I went to Subway for a deal on two foot-longs once and the guy there asked if they were for my children. I guess technically I could have had kids early. But no, both sandwiches were for me 😀 JK I shared haha

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I do think it would be more fun if you were with me!! 😄 I would feel less awkward if someone could be awkward with me haha but it would also help even more so since you aren’t a stranger.

        LOL at the sandwich story. People make such weird assumptions…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I was 25 when I first started working as a nurse, and all the time people would tell me how young I looked. I hated it, because I felt like people wouldn’t take me seriously because of it. In foreign countries, I’m usually travelling alone, so the most common reaction I get if people ask my age (currently 39) is wanting to know why on earth I’m not married yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true, it does feel like people tend to overlook those who are younger and just starting out in a profession. I feel that way in every job I’ve had. :/

      Oh boy, the marriage thing. I guess in other cultures it’s normal for women to be married by a certain age? That’s pretty cool you travel alone. I hope someday I can be as confident. I want to travel on my own but a little anxious about doing everything myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. On Jasper’s 34th birthday we went out for a drink.
    He ordered a beer and was asked for his ID. So apparently he has the same “problem” as you 😉
    I love the picture! Your hair looks so healthy and teeth so straight! Did you have braces?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg, it is my worst nightmare to be asked for my i.d.! That happened to me once while I was in college… I got stopped by a police officer who thought I looked underage.

      Thanks for the hair and teeth compliment, hehe. You are correct, I did have braces. Prior to that my two front teeth made me look like a rabbit, I think, lol.


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