How Doctor Who inspired me to let go of the past

Guest post by GothVikingChick
Illustration from the Ripple Junction's Doctor Who Doctor Outfits T-shirt
Illustration from the Ripple Junction’s Doctor Who Doctor Outfits T-shirt

It might sound odd that The Doctor — a character from a TV show who travels freely in space and time — has inspired me to let go of the past. But hear me out…

As a huge science fiction fan, I often found myself daydreaming about being able to go back in time and re-experience events as my younger self — most often my university years. I spent a lot of time missing those years and missing who I was back then. I looked at old photographs and thought about all the different hair colours and hair lengths I had, the clothes I wore, the clubs I went to.

We can probably all, at one time or another, be guilty of this wish to turn back the clock and recapture a time in the past. Maybe we’re looking at it with rose-tinted glasses and comparing it to now, which may seem drab and dull in comparison.

Then one day I was thinking about the Doctor and had an epiphany.

We are all different people throughout our lives. It isn’t usually as dramatic as the Doctor regenerating, but if we look back at our lives, we can see a constant, gradual shifting from one version of ourselves to another. Indeed, if you want to be scientific about it, our cells are constantly renewing, and every seven years we are in a sense a completely different person.

The Doctor does sometimes miss old versions of himself. Or he might want to stay as his current incarnation and resist change (Tenth Doctor, I’m looking at you). In the same way, we can miss old versions of ourselves or try to hang on to who we were rather than moving forwards.

On the whole, the Doctor embraces regeneration and explores who he is now and what has changed or stayed the same. And apart from very special circumstances, he can’t very often cross his own timeline and meet other incarnations of himself — when he does, he’s usually less than complimentary about his other incarnations, whether older or younger.

The Eleventh Doctor sums this up very well in his last speech before regenerating into the Twelfth Doctor:

We all change, when you think about it, we’re all different people; all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.

So now, whenever I feel nostalgia threatening to become a wish to turn the clock back, I remind myself that that was a different version of me. I have regenerated and moved on. And I will continue to change and regenerate throughout my life.

I look forward to finding out who I will become. I will keep moving, and I will remember all the people I used to be, without trying to be them again.

Comments on How Doctor Who inspired me to let go of the past

  1. That is definitely one of my favorite Eleventh Doctor quotes, and I completely feel you on the impact that has in regard to analyzing my own life.
    Great post…as a fellow Whovian, it warms my heart to see the Doctor helping people irl. Allons-y! πŸ™‚

  2. Thank you – as someone who has a degenerative condition this is a very helpful paradigm – the past me was a different version of me (e.g. one that could walk without thinking about it) – this doesn’t make me any less today or more yesterday – just a different incarnation – thanks again – Katherine

  3. I love this, it really hit home for me, but almost in an opposite way – for me, instead of being nostalgic about the past I tend to think about the past and certain times in my life very negatively. For example, I went through a really difficult time in high school and was very depressed, and I hate thinking about my time in college, because even though there were good times, I just feel lots of regret. But my life now is much better and I have many reasons to be happy, so for me I think it is helpful to move forward by telling myself those past “incarnations” of me are not the same as me now, and though I have learned from them I don’t have to wallow in them. If that makes sense πŸ˜›
    Anyhow, thank you for your article! I love when my favorite TV shows or movies have an impact on real life πŸ˜€

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