People change over time, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, probably most often a combination.
Ideally, we’d have more “for the better.”
This is the thing: if you don’t own your past, it owns you.
If you did something shitty and/or stupid 20 years ago and it resurfaces (reason irrelevant), there are a few paths:
You can say, “Yes, I did that, and it was shitty/stupid, and here are examples of how I’ve changed since then.” Ideally, if possible and necessary, you’ve already found anyone you injured all that time ago and apologized, attempted to make restitution, and you can include that in your evidence. You embody when I know better, I do better.
You can say, “Yes, I did that, and I’d do it again” or “Yes, I did that, and there’s nothing wrong with it” or “Yes, I did that, because [insert typically lame excuse/reason here].” You haven’t changed, or have changed for the worse, and the fact that this is 20 years old is irrelevant, because the outcome would be the same today.
Or you can pretend you didn’t do it.
Generally, when people choose the third option, it’s because it doesn’t look good to say, “Yes, I did that, and I’d do it again,” or “Yes, I did that, and there’s nothing wrong with it,” so they just deny it happened.
If some ugliness from your past resurfaced today, which one are you? If the one that is true isn’t the one that you want to be true, what are you doing about it? Starting now.