Growing up, folks tended to think that I was younger than I was. I was tiny, in part due to a back brace, so this kind of made sense. When I was a senior in high school, a parent mistook me for a middle schooler. That's a four year gap, ladies and gentlemen.
Today, the four year gap hit me again. A visiting postdoc thought I was a senior. When I told her that I was a first year grad student, she didn't realize how far off she was, since I didn't bother to explain that I took three years off to work/play in between college and grad school.
I used to be flattered by this kind of mistake, but today it kind of irked me. I try not to think about what others think of me, but I do care about having a professional demeanor. Do I just look young or am I acting or dressing immaturely? Do I seem inexperienced? Is it a confidence issue?
At this point, I'm no longer reading into interaction I had today, but trying to determine how to assess my demeanor. There are so many factors, how does one test which ones might be problematic, let alone improve?