Rachel Paige
Updated April 13, 2016

The other week, I wrote a story about how I look ridiculously young for my age. I’m 28 years old, and I’m frequently mistaken for an incoming college freshman. I actually look exactly the same as I did my freshman year of college, because unfortunately I have been blessed with that Paul Rudd anti-aging voodoo. You might think it sounds awesome. It is not awesome.

Since then, many have reached out (via that awesome other-other FB inbox!) with positive feedback stating that they too, look ridiculously young — so don’t worry, if you feel the same way, you’re not alone!

Also since then, many have reached out with feedback telling me that since I struggle with looking older, I should could cut my hair, wear more makeup, ditch my glasses, start shopping somewhere new for more “adult clothes,” and in short, basically give myself an entire makeover so I don’t look like this anymore.

Listen, that’s solid feedback… if this were some ’90s teen movie and I were holding my breath for Freddie Prinze Jr. to take me to the dance.

Here’s the thing: It’s taken me 28 years to finally be truly comfortable and happy in my own skin, so I’m not about to change just so I can achieve the goal of looking “older.” If I were to chop off my hair, cake on makeup every day, and start shopping for pant suits, I might look older, sure. But I wouldn’t necessarily feel older, let alone be myself anymore. I’d be someone else trying to pretend to be someone she’s not, and listen friends, I don’t have time for that.

Like others out there, I struggled with my identity growing up. Everyone does! I knew who I wanted to be, but getting there took some time and patience. I tried out many different personas but none of them ever felt true to me. Each time I ditched a part of my personality I didn’t like, I became more and more myself — I think that’s actually what it means to grow up.

I never truly felt like myself up until the last few years, maybe two years at most. And feeling like myself actually meant quitting a job that I didn’t like that required me to dress a certain way (super business casual, with horrid stockings every day, and I could only wear nude-colored nail polish). Deep down inside, I knew that wasn’t me. This job was forcing me to look one way and I had the worst internal struggle with it, since I was projecting an image of myself that was as far from the truth as it could be. Eventually I had to shed it, and leave it behind, and finally emerge as a beautiful butterfly from my cocoon, and you know, other metamorphosis.

The beginning and end of this discussion is that I’m someone who feels most comfortable, and most like myself, wearing a t-shirt, barely any makeup, and my hair behaving however it wants to for the day. That’s me. That’s who I’m comfortable being.

This comfortable me is the most confident me. Put me in a business suit and I will be like, “What are words, where am I, what is happening, how do I get out of here??” That is not confident. I believe that lack of confidence regresses me back in age more than anything else. So why do I need to change my appearance when I already feel like I can take on the day and conquer anything RIGHT NOW and I just happen to be wearing this really awesome Force Awakens t-shirt and converse sneakers?

And yeah, it still sucks looking so young. I’ve come to deal with that, because that’s my appearance. Unless I want to once again go through the long and ridiculous process of changing my entire look just to please others looking at me, this is who I am. I’m not going to cut my hair. Okay, actually I am going to cut my hair because it’s getting too long and it’s annoying, but I’m going to cut my hair for me, how I like it, now how society has deemed I should be wearing it as a 28-year-old woman.

Besides, how is a 28-year-old supposed to look, huh? There is no diagram or owners manual that dictates how I’m supposed to look at this age. There is no decree. I’m going to keep looking, and truly being, however I want to at this age, and while I might complain about my youthful glow, know that when I look in the mirror I think I look GREAT.

If you’re one of these people who looks so so young and happens to be reading these words right now thinking, “OMG YES, I GET THIS,” don’t listen to others when they tell you how to age yourself up. Dress and look and be however you want to be (unless the place you work at is like, “Please don’t”). Even though we’ve never met, I want you to keep on being YOU. However old you are, and however old you may look.