I was born in Canada, but grew up on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago during the late 1970s and early 80s. At that time there were only two television stations available on the island.  One of them was completely dedicated to the news and only went on air from 6pm to 9pm. The other station however, broadcasted syndicated episodes of Star Trek (the original series). This was how the unlikely case arose wherein a little girl, living in a developing country, with parents who didn’t share a love of science fiction, became a life-long Trekkie.

"Pure Logic" Limited Edition Spock art giclee print

My old high school friend, Sandy, at home with her  “Pure Logic” (no. 1/200) print.

The day after I officially entered teenage-hood, my family and I boarded a plane back to Canada. This was 1989, and by this time Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) had been launched and found its audience. Now in high-school, I quickly made friends and found a select few (such as Sandy), who also shared a deep love of Star Trek. As part of our bonding, my friends and I held small Star Trek parties with each other, dressed up as the characters for Halloween, and talked excitedly about one day attending an actual Star Trek Convention.

Attending a convention was to remain only a dream for me while growing up.  Being from an immigrant family came with the experience of having no money to spend on things deemed non-essential. But even if that were not the case, my parents were not supportive of my love of Trek; in fact, they were actively against it. To this day, I’m unsure as to “why” specifically, but it actually angered my parents when I expressed any overt excitement related to the show.

As a child, this created a conflict and an uncomfortable story in my mind: it appeared that to be who I was, that is, to be lit-up in a way that was a genuine expression of ‘self’, was also to be unlovable in the eyes of those who were to care for me. This story was one that was hard to shake as the years went on, and I dealt with it by simply becoming self-sufficient, both emotionally and physically.  But the truth always was that this self-sufficiency was based upon a sense that I couldn’t rely on being loved, so I had to get by without it.

This story began to change 19 years ago, when I met my husband, Daniel. I’ve honestly never met another person who puts his relationship first the way he does. Over the time we’ve been together he has convinced me that his love isn’t conditional and that he’s in it for the long-haul, even in the face of my quirks and intrinsic fierceness. That is what helped that little Trekkie to find her way back to the surface… no… helped her to EXPLODE to the surface!  Being with someone who didn’t withdraw love allowed me to fully commit to being “who I am”. And simply being “who I am” resulted in an explosion of personal creativity and opportunity in this world!

Kavita Maharaj on The CBS All Access Stage at the STLV Convention

On The CBS All Access Stage at STLV

This year, I’m happy to say, I attended the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention. Never mind that it took 30 years to get here. But my first time wasn’t what I thought it would be… no, it was better! Not only did I attend my first Star Trek convention as a fan, but also as an officially licensed Trek artist, appearing on the CBS All Access stage to be interviewed about my work at the request of CBS. At STLV, I had the honour of lending my ‘Trek Celebrity’ status to two worthy causes (Project Wish Upon A Star and Night of Diversity), allowing me to help support others in the community. I had inspiring conversations with Trek alumni like Rich Sternbach, James Frain, and Nichele Nichols.  And of course, I made new friends, while spending quality time with incredible ‘old’ ones whose love and support I am eternally grateful for (Michele Specht, Chris Doohan, Matt Boardman, and Benny Hall, I’m talking to you!).

But here’s the thing… my story isn’t unique. I have come across so many other people who have been discouraged from being themselves because, for whatever reason, it didn’t serve the desires of others around them. But the funny truth of it is, you can’t get away from who you are – you’re always going to collide with yourself. And when you do, if you’re willing let go and just be ‘you’, the world opens up and you’ll find exactly where you were always supposed to be, not matter where you started. So mark my words, you’re already on your own collision course… brace for impact!

Kavita Maharaj