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Ask Dr. Norman Brown Your Own Question
Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1207
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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there, I have always looked older than my age, it could

Customer Question

Hi there,
I have always looked older than my age, it could be my features or my nose that makes me look older than I actually I am. Since I was 12-13 I was mistaken for being 18-19. When I was 16-17 I was mistaken for being 24-25 ( I even got bullied at college because of it) the odd comments such "no way you're 17" or even been called an old bag. I got comments from all the workplaces I worked in, I was even told that my mum actually looks younger than I do. I am now 25 and I kind of pushed it at the back of my mind ( I don't feel like 25 , I feel like 20 - I listen to music for that age, I want go out and do stuff 20 year olds would do ) in the last 3 days I've had again some random comments from my colleagues at work - said in a joke or not ( I have never showed that it bothers me in the slightest the fact that I look older) but comments such as when I'm being asked my age "no way she's 25, 35 more like" really is messing with my head again and making me depressed. I am confused of how I should behave ? How I look or how I feel or my actual age? It even makes me questions as I go out with friends that are in the (19-22 age group) whether I should go with them ( but they are my only friends) , it makes me feel so unsexy thinking I might look 35, it makes me question my relationship with this man I'm dating that is 25 also ( do I look ridiculous when I behave my age or younger but actually look 35?) it's making me so depressed I feel like I don't even want to leave the home. I find find it so unfair that I never had that youth, that I always looked so much older, it also makes me worry about getting older - how am I supposed to behave ?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 3 years ago.
It sounds like you may be pinning many of the normal anxieties that women feel on a series of comments that make you imagine that EVERYBODY thinks you're much older than you are. It's a misinterpretation of your own body image, sometimes called "Body Dysmorphic Disorder" meaning a misshapen view of your own body. It might even be related to a competitive attitude your mother may have had (or still have) about wanting to be prettier than you and not wanting to accept that you would naturally outshine her from your teens onward. (That might have nothing to do with your attitude, and nothing to do with those others who have made offhand or joking comments either. But does your mother TRY to look as young as she can? and perhaps use makeup to help with that?)
This is only a first guess at what might be getting at your anxieties. You end up asking how you are supposed to behave, as if it's up to other people to tell you how you should behave--and that expectation might have grown up with you if your mother or other family members have been very concerned with making sure you behave like a proper young lady for many years already, since before you had any chance to start making up your own mind: For now you're old enough to find out how your own mind wants to behave; so you want to hear advice from someone who's NOT affected by this widely shared myth among people you've grown up with, that you look much older than you are.
Please give YOUR OWN REACTIONS to my ideas expressed here: For it's YOUR own thoughts and feelings that are most important for both you and me to honor, if you're going to outgrow this body-looks cage that you experience as enclosing you so that the real you cannot find and express herself.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your reply, when I say I don't know how to behave , I mean how I am being perceived by other people as I feel like a 21 year old but I whenever I behave like it , I get the odd looks or comment to "calm down" or "you're not 20 anymore " and it hurts ... And of course it gives me this complex and anxiety and as I said before - it bothers me because I've always looked older , I feel like I never had that youth , that was my right but I never had it, it makes me angry and upset !
And even when I am alone at home, take off my make up off and the clothes , I can see how old i actually look, the wrinkles and everything !
I never stay in the sun, I eat well, I even gave up juices, only drinking water, I never smoked or drinked so it makes me even more mad for not looking my age !!! How can I cope with this ?