[Editor’s note: This article is an example of how a fictional character can help someone in real life.]
by Samantha Bell
All my life, I’ve had trouble relating to people. Social skills never came easily to me (and still don’t). As one could probably guess, this was frustrating, and left me many times in a state of helplessness – or worse yet, hopelessness. By my doctors, teachers, coaches and especially my peers, my differences were always perceived as something negative, something to be ashamed of, an ailment I needed to overcome before I could start my “real” life. For a while, they had me convinced. I was mad at myself and the world, and in my moments of despair, I was left wondering what I should, or even could, do.
Turns out, it was not a matter of what to do, but who could help. Despite all my efforts to fit in, I found myself drawn to Star Trek, which set me apart even more. I never imagined it would end up giving me the encouragement I needed to change my life. Star Trek is inspirational for many reasons: a utopian future, the advancement of science. But in my case, it was a single character who really moved me – everyone’s favorite android, Data.
At first, I saw him as just another alien life-form that I would watch,