Have you ever heard of the pituitary gland?
Because here is the time to get familiar.
The pituitary gland is a small, bean-shaped gland at the base of your brain that is responsible for telling the other parts of the brain and body to release hormones. It is often called the "master" gland for that function.
So what happens when your "master" gland gets frozen in time?
That is a complex question that very few can answer, but one such person—22-year-old Shauna Rae, is living that reality.
Shauna Rae, who was born in 1999, is of legal drinking age.
She can purchase a lottery ticket, pornography, cigarettes and alcohol. She can vote.
However, looking at her, you'd never know it.
Rae's unfortunate journey began at 6 months old when a cancerous mass was found on her head. It took 3 years of chemotherapy and constant struggle to get the cancer to recede and for Rae to be able to live.
However, doctors later found her pituitary gland was functioning at an extremely low level, causing Rae's body to age very slowly.
"I got on growth hormones but, unfortunately, the doctor told me I was done growing," she said.
"My bones were fused at 16. So I didn't have this realization that I wasn't gonna be normal until I was 16. That moment was almost, like, the world shattered."
At 22 years old and at 3 feet 10 inches and 50 lbs, Rae certainly is not what society would consider average. It has presented a unique challenge for her.
"I want to live my life like my friends and my sisters do, but I need my mother, my father, and the rest of the world to realize that I'm an adult," she said.
This includes Rae's dating life, which presents more than a few logistical questions for the family.
Since Shauna looks so young, can any person who met her online be trusted?
And Shauna is under no delusion about who she attracts.
"I think I've dated, like, seven people. I attract creeps, a**holes. You know? Like, the typical quote-unquote bad boy picture kinda situation."
"And idiots! My last relationship had ended specifically because he didn't wanna go out to a restaurant with me or just go out and take a walk with me. And those are the kind of things that I look for as red flags,"
But, Rae says, her dating life is between a rock and a hard place, because if they DO want to be seen in public with her, that's a bigger red flag.
"The attraction to younger people, children exactly, is an issue. And there have been times that I've attracted that. And they haven't been, like, super old creepy guys all the time, but sometimes they are, sometimes they're younger, and it's just creepy."
And though Shauna wants all of the things a normal adult wants, alongside that, she so desperately wants to be thought of as an autonomous adult who can take care of herself.
"The things that are holding me back really are the finances, the fact that I can't drive yet. And my parents need to learn to loosen the reins, and I don't know if my mom will ever do that," she said.
We wish the best for her and her family going forward.