I rejoined the game after cwl was added. Was a almost max th10 back then and now I'd be fully maxed th13 if not for walls. I'm not super active sometimes 3/4 builders go free a couple of days. But I bought the gold pass every month .
So I do believe you can catch up with the updates eventually. It takes about 2 years appx to max out a account. So I guess it'd take you that much with gold pass to fully catch up with updates if you start a th1 now. As someone else mentioned patience is key.