A Case of Mistaken Identity

It happened the first time during the first week of classes at my grad school. I went to an event my friend was putting on in her residence hall. I was there to keep her company and enjoy the free pizza. While I was standing in the pizza line, an eager-beaver-type came up to me and said, “I don’t think I’ve met you yet, are you from North?” referring to the hall next to the one we were currently in. I said no and told him which hall I was from. He looked surprised and said, “Oh wow, you don’t look like a sophomore at all!” He thought I was a freshman. Sigh. I was older than most first year grad students and I was being mistaken for a freshman. I let that incident slide, mainly because it was the first, but also because it was an evening event and I was wearing more casual clothes.

But the not-so-funny thing is that it kept happening. My friends would jokingly introduce me as their seventeen year old cousin on a college visit and people believed them. When going into an “age restricted venue”, I would be asked to show additional forms of ID. I had some friends of friends that were only a year younger than me tell me that I “looked good” for twenty four. What is that even supposed to mean??

Now I am at my first professional job. I’m not the intern. I’m not the student/Hall Director. I have an office with my name on the door and I wear nice clothes every day. It’s summer so there aren’t even that many students here. I’ve been introduced to tons and tons of people as the new BIG GIRL POSITION since I’ve started. And it’s still happening. It started off slow. One receptionist asked another who I would need to contact to arrange for student employment direct deposit. The next week, one of the cashiers at lunch asked if I was so dressed up because I had a presentation. And finally, there was the night I was asked if I was part of the student group that had just arrived on campus. They were a group of high schoolers. SOMEBODY THOUGHT I WAS A HIGH SCHOOLER.

I’ve reached the point where I’ve given up and usually laugh the incidents off. Usually. I’ve have a few instances where people are pushy and insist that I’m a student unable to do whatever it is I’m attempting to do. But those are few and far between.

I’m wondering at what age I will finally stop being mistaken for a student (and if I’ll miss it).

I guess it’s kind of like this.

Anybody else out there still being mistaken for a student?

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2 thoughts on “A Case of Mistaken Identity

  1. eliseblalock says:

    This past February my husband and I went back for a reunion at our alma mater. One evening we went to the old college hangout with other alums both younger and older than us. Everyone showed their ID and went on in but when I showed mine, the bouncer put it under the black light. Yep, he thought it was fake. At max, he thought I was 20 years old. I’m 30. In all honestly though, it made me feel pretty good. I think 30 is the magic number that you’ll start actually liking it.

  2. I am 23 years old and have reached the halfway point of my 2-year graduate program but even as recent as a few weeks ago, have been asked if I am a high school student or a first-year in college. Last summer, I was frequently assumed to be 14. It gets rather frustrating and when I visit bars and stores to buy “strong lemonade” I have my id out before anyone can ask. I agree with Elise that at some point, it will become something I enjoy more. Working at a college though and helping students that are older than myself (through different life paths) sometimes makes it difficult to remember that I am in a “big girl” position, like you shared!

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