Are these questions that you’ve heard before? If so, it would seem that we’re serving on the same starship (the Star Trek form of “we’re in the same boat”). I usually just respond to these queries with: “It’s just my thing.” That may seem like an oversimplified answer, but there is a truth to that simplicity. Everyone has something.
It could be a…
These are only a few of the many categories that people can classify as their “thing”. Needless to say, Star Trek is my “thing”. It may seem silly or strange to some, but as they cannot experience my personal connection with the franchise (as only I can experience that), it is a topic that must feel foreign to them.
So I’m going to do my best to explain: Why Star Trek? Why is it so meaningful to me—Aly Martinez.
As many of you know, I credit my love of Star Trek to my parents. Some of my earliest memories of the show take place while my family was watching Enterprise over the dinner table. I would have been about six years old at that time. I also have fond memories of watching reruns of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager at 1AM while my dad was asleep in the recliner.
As a family, we would talk about the episodes, characters, and ships. Being as young as I was, I had lots of questions. My parents would do their best to answer them, but as I got older I still craved the pursuit of Star Trek knowledge. I can remember my mom leaving notes for me after I returned from a day at high school saying I could only watch one episode of Star Trek before moving onto homework and chores. I’d be lying if I said I always followed that rule. *Sorry if you’re reading this, Mom. But I’m sure you knew I always watched more than one episode anyways.*
Even as an adult, Star Trek is still family time. I might not live in the house I grew up in any longer (actually, I’m living on the other side of the world now), but that hasn’t halted that connection in the least. This past summer, I stayed with my parents for about a month before transitioning to living in Japan. Each night, my dad would turn on MeTV so we could watch Star Trek together. (#AllStarTrek) I’ve been video calling with my parents each week to talk about the new Star Trek: Picard episodes as I also did when Discovery was airing.
We might not always agree about every point of Star Trek, but that’s what makes our conversations so interesting. While we all enjoy different series and episodes, we can still come together to watch and talk about the entire franchise as a whole.
Also for those of you that are wondering, I would say that my dad’s favorite series is Voyager, while my mom’s is The Next Generation.
As a 24-year-old, I’m still not quite sure what I want to be when I “grow up”. Throughout high school and college, my interests changed frequently. I was originally inspired by Star Trek to pursue a career with NASA. My shortcomings in my math and science skills proved to me that I wouldn’t make the cut to be an astronaut, so I got to work on changing my focus. Although I wouldn’t make a great diagnostic engineer or warp field theorist on a starship, I could still channel that passion through what I did excel at—writing and communications.
I realized during that time in my life that although I admired Star Trek characters for their knowledge and job proficiency, what I was truly connecting with was their humanity. While Geordi could solve every engineering problem you could think of, I connected with him because of how highly he valued his friendship with Data. While Jadzia Dax is who you want to have on your side in a crisis, I connected with her because of her openness and honesty. While T’Pol was distinguished in the Vulcan Intelligence Service, it was her struggle with handling her emotions that I connected with.
We are all human. From doctors to decorators, artists to accountants, sanitation workers to stay-at-home parents. Star Trek taught me to embrace my humanity through diverse and multi-dimensional characters. I might not be the best fit for the big chair, but there is a place for me on this starship.
The Star Trek fandom family is something that I am so thankful for. There are many levels within this family: the first being the elation of connecting with others that are just as passionate about a topic as you. No matter what Star Trek story each person has, we all have the ability to come together and bond over a franchise that we cherish. We come from different walks of life and places around the globe, but we LOVE Star Trek.
Another level of this fandom family is the support that it can provide. When I posted about getting a new job, the congratulations that I received from many was so heartwarming. When I’m having a tough day, the insight and advice that others provide helps me work through those feelings. When I’m in a creative block, I know where to go for some awesome ideas. When I have a question about something, others will do their best to answer it or refer me to someone that knows the answer. It’s about more than just Star Trek.
It goes beyond just loving the show itself. It’s about trying to embody the show’s values in real life. I’ll be the first to say that I’m not perfect in my pursuit of a Star Trek inspired life, but I wake up each day and try my best. I fall down, I make mistakes, and I fail. Life throws curve balls. I get upset, angry, and sorrowful. But that’s just the thing—all of the things I just mentioned are present in Star Trek. It is not about a perfect utopia, but a quest for that utopia. The idea that we as human beings can rise above our current climate. We can be the change. WE ARE THE CHANGE.
Each day I login in my social media platforms and I see others on that same journey. Striving to be better each day. Fully aware that it isn’t easy and we won’t always succeed. Honestly, we might fail more than we succeed. But that doesn’t mean that we should abandon hope. If we can make a difference in one person’s life, that is still making a difference. Imagine what this world would be like if everyone felt that way.
Star Trek is my “thing”. I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. It’s been with me through almost my entire life and continues to make an impact for me each day—whether I’m sitting down to watch an episode, chatting with my Star Trek family, writing a blog post, or planning a new cosplay.
My advice to you:
Keep being a die-hard football fan, a marathon runner, a website wizard, a podcast prodigy, a scrapbook master, a number-cruncher, a dungeon master.
Never hide your passion for your “thing”.