I've gone from a party girl to over the hill ... at 31

I’ve gone from a party girl to over the hill… at 31, says FLORA GILL

  • Flora Gill says pandemic stole years from everyone but she refuses to grow up 
  • 31-year-old claims others like her are finding comfort in childhood things
  • Says fascination with millennials has been replaced with obsessing about Gen Z
  • 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.

    I seemed to move into that zone almost by stealth. When we first heard whispers of a virus, I was 28. Thanks to the pandemic, the past few years have felt like time has stood still. We all stopped moving. Yet despite the lack of parties to celebrate the landmarks, we kept getting older. Suddenly, I have grown-up status.

    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

    The biggest marker of your stage in life, for me, is children. 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.

    Another post-lockdown change is a fear of clubbing. 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.

    The visibility of the generation below has been a most notable change. 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) said overnight her generation has become yesterday’s news and there’s an obsession with Gen Z 

    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.

    The difference between 30 and 31 is immense. 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. For me, lockdown was a period of nothing, for them they cocooned and evolved, emerging as 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.

    I am drawn to films and books I loved as a teenager. Rather than the usual podcast, I’m falling asleep to Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter. Perhaps a part of me hopes this will make me younger.

    A friend spotted her first wrinkles and instantly dyed her hair blue. Another got a hand tattoo. And I had a scaffold piercing in my ear, refusing to go gently into that good night with my married and pregnant 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.

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