07/17/2012 06:58 pm ET Updated Sep 16, 2012

Quarter-Life Crisis: Benjamin Button Style

Flickr: Shahed Salehian

My quarter-life crisis might as well be called a "teenage meltdown" -- not because I'm particularly dramatic, nor because I'm a Belieber losing my cool (sorry Justin).

The complexity of my issue is this: I'm a college graduate, I vote, I pay my own rent and I feed myself (rather delicious food -- thank you, New York City). Still, due to my rather youthful look -- at 5' 5" with a petite frame and fair skin -- I appear younger than I actually am.

Oh, this poor girl -- complaining about her lack of wrinkles, age spots and bags under the eyes! Boo hoo.

I get it. It's clearly not the end of the world, but hear me out: people think I was born in the '90s. I know who New Kids On The Block are! I remember a time before the Spice Girls.

When I was 22 and visiting New Orleans, the owner of a souvenir shop asked me with a concerned look, why a young girl -- me -- was without her parents. Umm... what?

Stunned, but skeptical of potential sarcasm, I calmly questioned, "How old do you think I am?"
The NOLA shop woman (in all seriousness) replied, "14." What the... what?
One year or two years, I understand, but eight?!

Apparently, Benjamin Button and I are at stiff competition in this town.

I've been told older individuals commonly misjudge the ages of the Gen-Y group, simply because they do not interact with us on a regular basis. I'm not so convinced. Case and point: younger people -- the very age group I've been mistaken for -- are fooled too.

A few months after turning 21, I held a summer internship in New York City. One weekend, I decided a pedicure was in order. As I sat getting my toes polished and flipping through gossip magazines, the girl next to me began chatting about prom.

"Are you going too?" she asked, innocently. Me? No, no. I smiled, explaining I was not a senior in high school. I was a senior in college; four years removed from prom. I was one year away from graduation, financial independence, a real job and taxes. Joy!

Since starting my career, I've learned tricks to make myself look more like the 20-something I am and convince people of my actual age (without flashing my state ID). This includes the way I do my hair, makeup application (thank you Elizabeth Arden!) and clothing choice. No big deal.

Without these small fixes, it's not very often I am spoken to in a condescending manner due to the way I look. Though, that doesn't mean I am not approached in an immature fashion (... like getting hit on by high school students). #annoying #awkward #uncomfortable

Thankfully, once engaged in conversation, people realize I'm not celebrating the victory of R-rated movie admission, nor that I'm in the midst of planning my Sweet 16.

I've been told many, many times I'll be grateful for this trait later in life, and perhaps I will. If not -- in 25 years -- look out for part two of this column; Mid-life crisis: Benjamin Button Style.