Sunday, October 14, 2018

Someday, when I'm a grown-up - an open letter to Wil Wheaton

Project #canidothisin10days on my instagram @Tortoisefly
I spent the last 11 days building this. Instagram @Tortoisefly
I grew up in a geek-friendly home, long before that was considered to be cool.

When I was 8, my mom and I read The Hobbit together, and I thought "someday, when I'm a grown-up, I'll go on epic adventures like Bilbo, Gandalf, and their friends."

I watched Star Trek reruns with my dad and I saw Spock find peaceful solutions using reason, science, and logic, and I thought "someday, when I'm a grown-up, I'm going to be like him."

I saw Star Wars and found a role model in Princess Leia, who proved that you didn't need a man to rescue you, you could save yourself, be the hero of your own story, and maybe rescue a couple of well-intentioned men along the way. I saw this, and I thought "someday, when I'm a grown-up, I'm going to be just like her!"

Then when I was an awkward 8-year old girl who loved Sci-Fi, but struggled to picture myself as I was, being a part of the narrative, Star Trek TNG came on TV. I saw Wesley Crusher, a boy (unlike me), who like me was smart, and sometimes awkward, struggling to find a place in a universe full of grown-ups. Like me, he had important things that he wanted to say, but the grown-ups often didn't seem to listen, because they thought he was just a kid.

I saw Wesley, and the narrative changed. I was no longer thinking about "someday, when I'm a grown-up." Instead, I found myself thinking "there are kids on the Enterprise who are just like me!" Wesley changed the way that I saw Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Finally, I could see myself in a character, and that allowed me to feel like I was a part of the narrative.

Because of this smart, awkward, geeky kid that I saw on TV, I no longer felt like an outsider, too young to be a part of the narrative of the stories that I loved. Suddenly, this genre that I had always been immersed in was something that I could picture myself being a part of. Not "someday," but "now."

Because of Wesley, "someday" had become "today" and I no longer felt like I had to wait until I was a grown-up to be important.

So Wil, thank-you for the important role you played in my childhood, and thank you for turning into a grown-up that other kids will aspire to be like.

You're awesome!

~ Jeanie @Tortoisefly

ETA: I had a feeling that I wouldn't be able to vocalize this to Wil when meeting him at FanExpo Vancouver today, so I wrote it out and while he was extremely gracious and kind about my lantern (which he signed - another of those surreal moments) I handed him a card with the above written in a letter. I think I may have managed somewhere between 5-10 words to him, so good call on the writing it out, sleep-deprived past Jeanie!


  1. Jeanie, How freaking awesome to 1) grow up in such a nurturing home and 2) get to meet Wil Wheaton! Good planning on writing your letter out to him! BTW, I just found you via my blog, which you were gracious enough to comment on. I enjoyed this and can't wait to read more of your writing! M.L.James aka Mona

  2. Thanks! I enjoyed your writing too. :)

    A few days after I gave Wil the letter he posted about someone being a jerk on the internet and I commented with reference to the awesome card I stuck the letter in (it say's "You are a freaking magical unicorn" on the cover) and he responded that it meant a lot to him. He was having a really bad week, so the fact that he took the effort to let me know that meant everything. I took a screen shot of the convo so that the next time I feel like something I say/do/write is making no impact on the world, I can look at it and say "see, you may not always realize it, but you do make a difference, so keep trying."