How much of your identity is revolved around the paranormal?
This topic came to me as a surprise. As I was browsing different paranormal-related news stories on the web, I ran into this curious story about John Francis of Juneau, Alaska. Francis is currently in the running to join a compensation board for crime victims in his community. He was hand-picked by Governor Mike Dunleavy. But of course, just because you’re the Governor’s choice, there is still a process that has to take place before anyone is confirmed. During a House hearing, Francis voluntarily brought up ghosts when he told a story of a ghost going through his body and how it was a life-changing experience. Francis also brought up his criminal past, which included insurance fraud and burglary.
But apparently, people weren’t concerned about his criminal past, they were more concerned about the fact that he is a ghost hunter. Eagle River Republican Sen. Lora Reinbold brought up concerns about his ghost hunting activity and it looks like she questioned him aggressively about the manner. She asked him what his spiritual beliefs were and concluded that she would not support his nomination.
Of course, being a ghost hunter and a working woman, I found this to be rather interesting. What happened to Francis is not rare. In fact, when I was on my latest job hunt, I purposely used my full legal name instead of what you would call my “pen name” or “stage name.” Granted, I’ve used the simpler version of my name for most of my life. It’s the name that my oldest friends know me as. In the last decade, my name has become tied with the paranormal. And yes, it is of my own doing. 🙂
It’s not that I’m ashamed of my ghost hunting experience or the work that I do. I’m not ashamed of the books I’ve written. But I do know that the topic of ghost hunting can make people feel very uncomfortable. It can change the way people perceive you. With my luck, someone who doesn’t know me might be really nervous about the topic of ghost hunting, and I could find out that they’re interviewing me for a job, a loan, an adoption, etc. I could be “on the wrong side of the table” you could say. I usually try not to reveal my ghost hunting interests right away, but I let people get to know me first. I don’t want to put my paranormal interests on full blast because it is something that not everyone is comfortable with. I don’t want to risk opportunities because I was too aggressive with my paranormal interests.
But what eventually happens is that someone will google me, and they will find my books, APS, and my website, which doesn’t shy away from the paranormal. I want to say that 90% of the time, people are always cordial and cool. I have, however, lost friends because of it. To some, an interest in the paranormal equals to delving in devil worship and other occult practices that are perceived as “evil.” While I do neither of those activities, the reputation of the paranormal precedes me, and I hope to be part of the solution to dispelling the novelty of ghost hunting.
I could also be “loud and proud” about my ghost hunting endeavors. I know folks who have their paranormal expertise listed on LinkedIn. As much as I would like to do that, I also have bills to pay and four kitties to take care of. Perhaps one day I could be in that place where I can be loud and proud, but for now, I’ll keep my paranormal “secret identity” in the wings. It will eventually be revealed, usually through a late night conversation or when someone approaches me about the topic.
There are countless working professionals who are interested in the paranormal. I’m talking high-powered business people, lawyers, doctors, teachers, SCIENTISTS, and other people from well-respected professions who have a good head on their shoulders. There will always be a peanut gallery of people who take the paranormal too far and let it consume them, but they are truly a small percentage of this massive pool. While I am proud to be a paranormal investigator and researcher, I’m also a daughter, a niece, a teacher, a partner, a friend, a writer, a community volunteer, book smart, I hold a Masters degree, and I’m an actress, singer, roller skater, former beach bum, the list goes on.
In closing, if you’re someone who hasn’t gotten involved in the paranormal community because you don’t want it to consume you, take up too much time, etc. don’t let that stop you! Having an interest in the paranormal is enough to participate in this amazing community we have. If anything, being a ghost hunter shouldn’t disqualify anyone from getting a job, a date, a house, a child, etc.
There are too many facets of me to give the paranormal full credit to my identity.