Seeing the good and bad in my high school years

By COLE DOUGLASS | October 11, 2018

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NICHOLAS SMALE/CC BY 2.0 Rewatching Doctor Who helped Douglass gain perspective on his past.


A couple of weeks ago, I started working my way through old episodes of Doctor Who to prepare myself for the upcoming season (and, more importantly, Jodie Whittaker’s role as the first female incarnation of the Doctor).  Within the first episode, I was surprised to find how nostalgic the show made me feel. 

Really, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.  I first stumbled upon the show in my freshman year of high school and was immediately obsessed: I binged through Doctors Nine, Ten and Eleven in a month or two, and quickly set about converting as many of my friends to the show as possible.  

We could talk for hours about the memorable monsters, daring adventures, confusing and wibbly-wobbly timelines. 

Looking back, it’s pretty obvious that Doctor Who was my first entrance into a fandom, and I’ve been a diehard member of that culture ever since. And yet, I was surprised by all the fond memories that came back to me as I rewatched the show.  

Part of it, I think, stems from the fact that I don’t really feel like I should be feeling so sentimental over my past yet. I’ve been 21 for barely a month now, and yet I’m already reminiscing over the good old days.

It somehow seems artificial, as if I can’t think fondly on my past because I don’t really understand what it means yet.  At this point, nostalgia feels like another one of those trappings of adulthood that I’ve somehow acquired but still have no idea what to actually do with (along with doing my taxes and using construction tools).

However, I think that the main cause of my surprise stems from my evergrowing ambivalence toward my high school years. A lot of good things happened during that period (great friends and supportive parents), but they were accompanied and balanced out by some pretty serious negatives (toxic relationships and attending a religious boarding school as a raging homosexual).  

As a result, while my time in high school certainly wasn’t dreadful, I’m definitely not interested in reliving that period.

Besides, I’ve always hated the trope of adults who insist that high school is the best years of our lives. It’s a complete and utter whitewashing of the past that overlooks all of the hardships that many kids have to overcome. 

Sure, we didn’t have a mortgage or a 9 to 5 job, but my whole high school friend group was just a big ball of untreated mental illness.  

We struggled a lot in high school, and it took a lot of work to get through it all, and it isn’t fair to disregard those negative experiences. As such, it feels a little weird to be romanticizing that time frame, especially considering that we’re only a few years out.

Of course, I’m not saying that we should only remember the bad times from our past — then we’d be the exact same situation, only this time, we’d be making ourselves miserable.  And again, I did enjoy my high school experiences, and I made a lot of friends who are very special to me to this day.  

However, I think that it is important to remember both the good and the bad when we look at our past; without both aspects, the story is incomplete.  

I’ve just about gotten to the point in Doctor Who where my original run at watching the series ended, and I definitely have a much different view on the show than I did when I was in high school. 

This time, I’ve been a slightly more critical viewer, and while the show has definitely had some great moments (the Christmas specials, “Midnight” and the first episode with the Weeping Angels), it has had some less good ones as well (most of the early special effects and literally every other episode with the Weeping Angels). 

Still, without its flaws, it wouldn’t be the show that I fell in love with during those first months of high school, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.

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