“We all change, when you think about it. We’re all different people, all through our lives. And that’s OK, that’s good, you’ve got to keep moving. So long as you remember all the people that you used to be...”
The Eleventh Doctor, “The Time of the Doctor”
When I heard this part of the Eleventh Doctor’s speech during his final scene, it got me thinking, as I knew exactly what he was referring to. He was about to change, to literally become a different person. But he was also speaking to all of us, saying that we all change over time.
Certainly, when we change, it normally isn’t anything as dramatic as what the Doctor goes through – we don’t become a completely different person in an instant. But we all do change, each and every one of us, over time.
Imagine what you were like when you were just 5 years old. Now, compare that person to who you are now. In one respect, you are the same person – I was 5-year-old-Karl, and now, nearly 28 years later, I am nearly-33-year-old-Karl, but I am still Karl. But in many ways, we are not the same person as our 5-year-old selves. As adults we’re clearly a lot more mature than when we were 5, and our interests will be a lot different than when we were 5. 5-year-old-Karl would probably find spreadsheets boring, but nearly-33-year-old-Karl makes a living out of doing very clever things with them.
But we don’t just change when we become adults. We change all through our lives. Place your 5-year-old self in a room. Then, add to the room your 15-year-old self, and then (if you’re old enough), your 25-year-old self, and your selves at each 10 year interval after that, and, finally, place yourself in the room at your current age. Now, all of the people in that room are still you, but you’ll probably find that they all seem like different people. I know that I’ve certainly changed over the years...
I look at 5-year-old Karl, who loved Sooty and Thomas the Tank Engine. I can see how innocent he was, not knowing much about the world. To keep him quiet all you have to do is sit him down in front of a cartoon. Life was simple for him...
I look at 15-year-old Karl, who certainly had his difficult teenaged moments, and see that he is completely different to 5-year-old Karl, yet still very much unlike nearly-33-year-old Karl. He wasn’t the most popular kid in school, but academically he was doing OK. But he would have his good days and his bad days – I remember once after I had left high school one of my teachers said to me that whenever I had a lesson with her she was always hoping that I was having a good day that day. Not that I ever misbehaved in class. I just had, well, certain issues going on that are beyond the scope of this blog. (But then didn’t we all have issues as teenagers that we wouldn’t like to talk about publically now?)
25-year-old-Karl was different yet again. He was much more grown up than 15-year-old-Karl was. This Karl was slowly becoming more confident in life. He has a job which he’s doing quite well at, even if he has clashed with a few people. He’s about to take his first step on the housing ladder. And he’s heard about this thing called “National Novel Writing Month”...
And nearly-33-year-old Karl is different yet again. He’s still doing well in his job, and he doesn’t clash with people so often now. He has seven Nano novels under his belt, and has made many friends through NaNoWriMo. And he feels confident in himself.
And, of course, there haven’t been just these Karl’s at these specific intervals in my life. We haven’t met College Karl here, or University Karl. Or the Karl-that-had-that-website-about-that-TV-show. And numerous other Karl’s...
And I’m sure that if you look back over your life you’ll be able to identify many different versions of yourself. They are all still you, but you will have inevitably changed over time.
Going back to what the good Doctor said, we are indeed different people all through our lives. We change as we grow up and get older, as we have to – most of us wouldn’t like someone in their thirties still acting like when they were a teenager, for example. But it’s also important that we remember who we used to be, what our past selves were like. So that we know where we’ve come from, how we’ve changed, and why we changed in the way that we did. I may not be any of those past Karl’s now, but I still remember them all, as they all helped to make me who I am now. Each past Karl had his good and bad points, although each past Karl was probably blind to them at the time. Likewise, I’m sure this present Karl has his good and bad points, and may not be aware of what they all are.
But, somewhere in the future, they’ll be yet another Karl, looking back at this present Karl. Goodness knows what he’ll be thinking of me! I daresay there’ll be a few things he’s cringing at, but hopefully there’ll also be one or two things he’s proud of as well.
So, have another look in that room with all your past selves in it. See what they were all like, and how they helped make you the person you are today. Whilst we’re not these people any more, it is important that we remember them.
And then keep moving. In the future there’s another version of us waiting for us to become them.
And we should try and make them someone who we really want to be...
Next Week: The Importance of Taking Breaks