Welcome to this week’s installment of Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week, wherein we shine a spotlight on strong women who inspire us. Now, this not only includes fictional female characters in geeky media, but creators as well. These ladies are a prime example of female empowerment and how crucial it is for young girls to have said example to follow.
Commander Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) is a half-Human half-Betazoid. She is the daughter of an ambassador, born on Betazed. Deanna enlisted with Starfleet and served aboard the USS Enterprise under Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart). She uses her telepathic gifts, inherited from her mother’s people, in her position as the ship’s counselor and assists the captain during arbitration or meetings with others. Though she is of two races, she never feels she needs to choose between them or straddle the in-between life. Deanna loves every aspect of who she is while also living a fairly integrated life in the multi-planetary society of the 24th century. She has an on-again-off-again relationship, and eventual marriage, to a fellow Starfleet officer, and ultimately retires to a healing planet to live the quiet life to raise her daughter.
The Real Deal
Being from Betazed, Deanna should have had a stronger telepathic ability. However, being only half-Betazoid, she can only telepathically communicate with other Betazoids while simply reading the emotions of other beings. Although half-Human and half-Betazoid, she never expresses feeling less than either part of her heritage. Instead, she seems to take pride in the fact that she is of both worlds. It is this pride that she leverages in her studies and career, using her strengths to her advantage; she majors in psychology at Starfleet Academy, relying on her brain and logic to suss out the what and why behind emotions, while also honing her natural Betazoid-given empathic abilities to read the emotions of others. Combining the two talents makes her an effective counselor.
During her time aboard the Enterprise, Deanna sees regular patients and helps advise them through their lives while exploring space. Her patients come to her for everything from the mundane, like coping with workplace stress or strife with another coworker, to the quite impossible, like learning to deal with the fact that time bubbles exist and it is possible to slip through unstable matter and be fused with the ship itself. Having her empathic abilities helps her to better sense what her patients are feeling and experiencing and allows her to better diagnose and treat them. She does not rely solely on them, however, and gets consent to use her limited telepathy; some patients, however, do not want the additional tool, and she either respects the wishes to not use it or refers those uncomfortable with her to another counselor.
While serving Captain Picard, Deanna Troi steps outside the role of Counselor and takes on the mantle of his aide. She often uses her empathic abilities to “read” the intent of whoever happens to be speaking with the captain. In this capacity, Deanna sits in a prominent position on the bridge or at the table in the observation lounge. Her work in this role is vital to dispute arbitration, first contact, and predicting an enemy’s next move.
Counselor Deanna Troi is not all work, though. She regularly de-stresses in her downtime. Some of her activities include exercise, poker holodeck excursions, shuttle vacations, or some form of chocolate in Ten Forward. She also allows time for romance; throughout her time with Starfleet, especially as the Enterprise explores space and makes contact with new alien beings, Deanna finds herself involved with those that can stimulate her mind. Eventually, she settles down with Picard’s second-in-command, Commander William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes). The pair meet on Betazed long before their stint on the Enterprise. However, they don’t marry until their journey on the same ship in close proximity to each other reignites their relationship. The pair have children of their own and settle on the planet Nepenthe.
Life for Deanna is not all rainbows, however. Death and misfortune are around from the time Deanna is a baby. Though she prefers to not dwell on the despair in life. Her older sister tragically dies before Deanna is old enough to know her. Deanna’s mother all but erases Kestra from existence in an attempt to protect her from the pain. Deanna’s father passes away when she is just a child. Unlike losing the memories of her sister, she keeps the fond memories a daughter carries of her daddy. Her first-born, the product of an encounter with a new lifeform, dies at the technical age of 1-day. In her eyes, though he possesses the physical form of an 8-year old and the timelessness mental age of the alien being that chose Deanna as its mother. Years later, Deanna and Riker’s first child, Thaddeus, dies of an incurable disease. This happened even after the family settles on Nepenthe in the hope of prolonging his life. In addition to death, Deanna is the target of some unsavory characters throughout her exploration tenure, surviving physical and mental assaults that could break any person.
They say doctors make the worst patients. It could be easy to lump therapists and counselors into that same bucket. Deanna Troi recognizes this and does seek help when needed, accepting that self-help activities to relax and unwind aren’t always enough, even when chocolate is involved.
Why She Matters
Deanna Troi may be half-human and half-alien, but she is pure inspiration. She refuses to let outside forces determine her worth, instead defining herself as the best of two worlds. Deanna doesn’t take the easy way out and rely just on the mental powers provided by her mother’s side; she incorporates and nurtures the logic and brainpower of her human-side, as well. Deanna may not always be a perfect balance, but she tries to keep the level between logic and emotion. This is especially true when she is also voluntarily juggling other people’s emotions and turmoil. She expertly handles her duties as a counselor, listening when needed and offering advice when asked.
Deanna even steps up when her captain needs her to give her opinion on a situation. The commander doesn’t let life tear her down, even when shutting out the world and hiding under the blankets seems like the only option. She knows the difference between self-healing and self-help. Deanna knows when to reach out for professional aid when her own de-stress techniques aren’t enough or no longer working.
Be like Counselor Deanna Troi: Take pride in who you are, identify your strengths, and refuse to let others define you. You may be different than everyone around you, but that is because you are unique. Sometimes, you just need to figure out how you work and put that knowledge to the task to excel in life. No matter what, though, always make time to listen and try to understand others. Sometimes people need a shoulder to cry on and an ear to vent to. But sometimes, people just want to be heard. Offer comfort when needed and always advocate for what is right. And never discount your own mental health; dealing with the stresses of just surviving, let alone helping others, can take its toll on even seasoned empaths – so treat yourself right by seeing your own therapist or doctor, and don’t discount the healing effects of a replicator/refrigerator for the occasional chocolate sundae indulgence.