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Space to be Different

(The 8th of September 2021 is Star Trek Day. 55 years to the day since the first episode was aired.)



 


It’s taken me a long time to embrace my nerdiness.

I think that’s what happens when you grow up neurodivergent and are used to masking all the time to fit in to a neurotypical world. Not that you have to be a nerd to love Star Trek, but I am a Trek nerd (ok, TOS films and TNG. I’m not up on the newer series yet). Admitting your nerdiness when you’re already acutely aware of your differences from your peers is HARD.

I remember when I was 15. We had to stand up in front of our form and give a short talk about ourselves…likes dislikes, hobbies etc. Exactly the sort of thing I HATED with a capital HA. At the end of our talk, our classmates could ask questions about what we’d said.

I can’t remember what I DID mention in my talk. But, I do remember some snickering from a group at the back of the class when they pointedly asked me what my favourite TV show was. Having no idea where the question came from (remember - fit in! I'm sure I haven’t said anything to give myself away...), I felt a brief feeling of doom. Here was I, standing in front of my whole class, and one of them was trying to make fun of me for being different. We’re talking worst nightmare stuff. As an anxious person, my standard tactic in this sort of situation was head-down, mumble, try to get out of there as quick as humanly possible.

For some reason, today was different. I knew exactly what they were trying to do, and I wasn’t having it. I pulled myself straight up and stared at them.

“Actually, I have two. I like Star Trek: The Next Generation and The X-Files. Any other questions?”. Cue a deflated look from them (YES!).

I thumped myself back down in my seat - I felt rubbish, but I was proud of myself. I was fed up of feeling that being different was bad. ESPECIALLY for liking something as awesome as Star Trek. A show that depicted a hopeful version of the future, where different races (largely) co-existed harmoniously (let’s not forget the history-making first on-screen interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura), knowledge could be acquired for its own sake, life wasn’t focused on acquiring wealth (well, not unless you were Ferengi…), and women were in positions of command.

Not only was it a beacon of hope for the future but it was quite the refuge for an anxious, brown, neurodivergent teen who constantly felt out of place. It was a vision of the future that was definitely needed in the 90s, and God knows it’s certainly needed today.


So, Happy Star Trek and and thank you, Star Trek, for giving us hope and space to be ourselves (pun absolutely intended), from an anxious, brown, neurodivergent Trekkie who's no longer afraid to embrace her nerdiness. Live long and prosper.



 


Image is square with a red outline and medium-blue background. In the middle of the image is a photo of a rainbow enamel pin of a hand doing a Vulcan greeting (palm facing forwards, fingers straight up with a gap between the middle and ring finger making a V-shape). Above in yellow type are the words, "Happy Star Trek Day!". Under the photo, the words, "pin by @jamiebgall" are in white font.
Happy Star Trek Day!

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