This Christmas, I remembered how I used to sit at the children’s table and long to be with the grown-ups instead, where they had sophisticated adult drinks and conversations that I was too young to be privy to.

Now, at 31, and mixing with the adults, all I want is to go back to the children’s end. I want to gossip with my cousins and not deal with endless demands to know ‘When are you having a baby?’ and ‘What is your life plan?’ Adulthood feels like a VIP area you covet from the outside, only to realise once there that it’s just older men with slightly nicer booze.

That zone seemed almost like a stealth move. At 28 years old, we heard the first whispers about a virus. The pandemic has made the last few years seem like they have stood still. Everyone stopped moving. Even though there were no celebrations to mark the landmarks we all grew older. Instantly, my status has changed.

I know technically you’re an adult from age 18, but you’re not really. You’re still young and fun and testing boundaries, deciding what to do with your life. There’s a grace period for the next decade, but it feels for me and my friends that this period vanished when our freedoms were curtailed.

Flora Gill (pictured) says the pandemic stole years from everyone but she refuses to grow up and is being drawn to films and books that she loved as a teenager

Flora Gill (pictured) says the pandemic stole years from everyone but she refuses to grow up and is being drawn to films and books that she loved as a teenager

Children are the best indicator of where you’re at in your life. You’re not really an adult until there’s a generation behind you. It’s not about the individual, it’s about your peers — many of mine are pregnant or mothers.

In a charity shop buying baby clothes for a friend, I assumed everyone would think I was a teen pregnancy, only to remember I’m now older than the average pregnant woman in the UK.

A fear of clubbing is another change after lockdown. I used to love it — overpriced drinks, sweaty queues, dancing until the early hours — but I’ve not been to one since they reopened. I worry I’ve aged my way out. In my 20s, I could finally afford drinks without having to flirt with gross older men but now I worry I’ll look just as tragic as them.

My ultimate fear? Being on a dance floor as a new song comes on and the whole club breaks out into a TikTok routine I don’t know.

A 32-year-old friend recently went ‘out out’ and was asked by someone trying to flirt if she wasn’t too old for clubbing. It’s been doing the rounds of my horrified friends like a ghost story told around a campfire.

A notable shift has occurred in the visibility of the next generation. Before Covid, there still seemed a fascination with millennials — we were the ones to court, and to blame — now the world’s moved on.

Flora (pictured) said overnight her generation has become yesterday's news and there's an obsession with Gen Z

Flora (pictured) stated that Gen Z has been obsessive and her generation is now yesterday’s news. 

Today’s obsession is with Gen Z, my generation is yesterday’s news and therefore… old. Overnight, I’m no longer part of a group that says what’s cool. Instead, we’re told our eyebrows are wrong, our hair isn’t trendy and our clothes dated. Emojis? I’m a digital native yet can’t understand what half those on social media now mean.

There is a huge difference between the ages of 30 and 31. I’m not at a milestone age, I’m just ‘in my 30s’, a decade that likely holds all the expected grown-up goals: a career, partner and children.

Re-entering normal life in this new bracket, my peers and I feel like we’ve been tricked into it. We haven’t been able to lower ourselves slowly into the icy water of adulthood but have been shoved in with a belly flop.

The last time I hung out with my female friends, they were doing body shots of tequila off strangers, now they’re introducing me to their babies. My lockdown time was one of complete silence. For them, it was an extended period where they cocooned their babies and became mothers.

The world’s moved on: we’re no longer cool 

For those like me, there’s a definite feeling of denial. Rather than try to keep up, we’re regressing, finding comfort in childhood things.

My fascination is drawn to the films and books I adored as a child. Rather than the usual podcast, I’m falling asleep to Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter. I hope this will bring me back to my youth.

One of her friends noticed her first wrinkles, and immediately dyed her hair blue. Another woman got a hand tattoo. Another had a scaffold in his ear. I refused to enter that wonderful night with my pregnant and married peers.

The pandemic stole years from everyone but I refuse to grow up, I’m not ready. My friends may have done but I’d rather play pretend and rejoin the children’s table of life a while longer.