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Dakota Fanning, NYLON Magazine, EMBARGO 5:05 a.m. PT 04/17/15

Harper Smith/NYLON

Dakota Fanning is all grown up.

Nearly two decades after she starred opposite Sean Penn in I Am Sam, the actress opens up to NYLON's May issue about how it feels to be seen as a child star, even though she's an adult. "I've made my peace with the fact that there will be some people who, for the rest of my life, will believe I'm, like, 9 years old. I have this joke that I'm literally going to be 35, married, and pregnant and people are still going to say, 'Oh my god, you grew up so fast! I can't believe it!' And yeah, sometimes when you're 21 years old and people are still saying that, you just want to rip your hair out. But I'm OK with it," she says. "I know who I am."

While some child stars went off the rails as they got older, Fanning seemed to stay above the fray. "Sure, I handled myself the best that I could and was professional, but I was also a kid. I think that people who knew me then knew I was also exactly how kids are supposed to be," the actress says. "I've found that anybody who takes what they're doing seriously or seems to be a caring person gets called an old soul."

Dakota Fanning, NYLON Magazine, EMBARGO 5:05 a.m. PT 04/17/15

Harper Smith/NYLON

So, is she really a good girl? "It's not a negative thing to say, but it's also not 100 percent accurate. I might not be running around being insane, but I'm also a 21-year-old who likes to be silly," the actress says. "Just because I don't flaunt those parts of my life doesn't mean I don't do some of that privately."

She may paint the town red at times, but the Franny actress is mostly focused on her career. "I've done a lot of independent studies in school on old Hollywood, because I think there was something really special then that can never be replicated because of the time that we live in, and technology," says the star, who currently studies Women in Film at New York University. "I kind of long for when there was more mystery to how movies were made. Now everyone's goal is to know everything about everything."

Dakota Fanning, NYLON Magazine, EMBARGO 5:05 a.m. PT 04/17/15

Harper Smith/NYLON

Though many of her classmates are on social media, Fanning is not.

"I feel like if I did it, I'd start to measure my experiences by how good of an Instagram it's going to turn into," she says. "And I don't want to be living my life trying to see it all in a square, trying to get a photo."

For more from Fanning, pick up NYLON's Young Hollywood issue.