We are all in the paranormal field for a variety of reasons. No one's reason is more valid than someone else's. We are all different so there is no right or wrong answer here. What motivates you to investigate the paranormal?
For me, I just find the paranormal field as a whole intriguing and I am drawn to the research side. I never had an experience as a child so this hasn't been a lifelong journey for me as it has been for a lot of others, but that doesn't mean I don't have anything to bring to the table. I feel like I can give a pretty good observational and outsider perspective to consider. I didn't always have the confidence to do so. When I first started out, I definitely felt a huge gap between myself and some of the more experienced paranormal investigators. I also felt in some ways a little outcast because I wasn't a psychic medium or sensitive to the paranormal and it felt like everyone around me was. I still remember being asked on my 3rd investigation surrounded by a group of strangers that felt they could see, hear or sense spirits "How can you investigate the paranormal when you have no ability? That must suck for you!". Obviously, all these years later that comment has still stuck with me and I am not petty about it at all (sarcasm). I find it particularly hard sometimes because even though I do believe there are things happening out there, my natural reaction is to question and explain things. If I tried to question someone, they often became defensive. To them, they took it as me telling them it was in their head or how dare I question their ability. I even remember being scolded once by a paranormal peer after an investigation who went through me for daring to tell someone who felt they picking up on a cold spot that the temperature on the mel meter wasn't picking up any change whatsoever. Apparently, I was undermining their abilities when I thought I was investigating. Eventually, I just stopped asking questions or saying things because I didn't want to upset anyone and I faded away into a silent corner during investigations. I really was just interested in answers and didn't intend to upset anyone. I wasn't ever questioning a person's ability, but if we are going to make all these claims, someone needs to at least ask a question. As it turned out, I was the annoying person that would always ask that question and I had to cop the brunt of that. I can equally understand as well that people who are psychic mediums or sensitive to the paranormal encounter this from their peers as well. They have an experience only to be told that there is no way it can be proven or it was all in their head. Sometimes you can't explain something, you just know in your gut so you are literally left with having to take a person's word for it. So where does it leave us? We need to be able to share our experiences but we also need to be open to an outside opinion that all may not be as it seems.
Lately, I have really enjoyed reading a lot of the books and work from the psychical researchers of our past. A lot of paranormal research back then was sitting down and talking to people or collecting their accounts of experiences. We are not talking a few dozen submissions. We are talking several thousand. At one point Louisa Rhine used 15000 submissions from letters (which was the final 'usable' tally) where she researched their accounts of having a supernatural experience. She went on to include her findings in scholarly journals and books. The research didn't involve telling a specific person whether or not they had experienced something or investigating their house, it was looking at the accounts as a whole and looking at the phenomenon itself. Whether it is paranormal or not, it is still considered a phenomenon. Phenomenon = a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question. I feel like this is a great approach because you are removing human emotion from the equation. You are listening to a person and their experience and looking into the actual phenomenon itself. Isn't that what it is all about? It is not who is right and who is wrong which is kind of how it can sometimes seem today. This attitude means a lot of people are scared to share their thoughts or experiences because they will just be shut down. You will notice that lately, I have been taking a lot more submissions on different experiences because again I am not here to tell someone if what they experience was paranormal, but I want to listen. Once I have the submissions to go through I can determine, is there a pattern? Are some elements of the story that are the same? Understanding the experiences can help lead to a better understanding of the phenomenon itself. Even the exercise of doing this has opened my eyes to some pre-conceived ideas I have had. For example, I expected a lot of sightings of apparitions to be out of the corner of a person's eye yet in a lot of the submissions I have received, very few actually met that criteria. It makes me approach a subject differently and has even given me a new perspective on how I research the paranormal.
While I do enjoy going out on an investigation, it no longer makes up the body of what I do. I more so love the research side in hitting the books, writing about what I find, and talking to people about their experiences. While years ago I was investigating every weekend, now it is more once a month because I needed a balance. I even burnt out for a while and had to find what it was that I wanted to do in the paranormal. That is why I stick to my blog and Black Rock House as I am content with that. Some people want to do a lot more, while others want to do less. There is no benchmark. You do what works for you. People have families, jobs, different incomes, chronic illness, and a bunch of things to consider so don't compare what you are doing with someone else as I assure you that it isn't an even playing field in that respect. Remember social media also usually only shows the good things. It doesn't necessarily reflect the blood sweat tears and hours upon hours of hard work it takes.
No matter how long you have been investigating or even if it is just an area you are interested in, you have something to offer. Don't be scared to share your views. Share your experiences. The funny thing about the paranormal is that once people know you have an interest in the area, EVERYONE has at least one weird story to share. I have had people attend their first investigation and ask me questions I couldn't answer that sparked new thought processes and led me down new paths of research. If they had not asked that question, I may never have gone down that path. Sometimes new eyes can give a new perspective so don't be scared to ask a question or share an opinion. The spoiler alert is that in the paranormal, no one actually KNOWS any answers beyond what their own experience has taught them. It is OK to think differently, believe differently, and have a different experience from your peers. Unfortunately, there is sometimes ridicule from all different areas in the paranormal field and even in real life. It is a part of the human experience, not just exclusive to the paranormal. Don't let it deter you. It is also important to acknowledge the difference between ridicule and someone trying to offer an explanation or a suggestion. Not everything is paranormal. Not everything can be also explained. We need to be open minded that we may not have experienced what we thought from both a spiritual and skeptical perspective. There are people out there willing to help and willing to listen, but in turn, you also need to listen back. Don't let anyone take away your voice, but also, don't contribute to taking away someone elses voice. All voices matter.
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