My name is Maggie, and while the title of Paranormal Investigator is something fairly new to me, the fascination and adoration of the paranormal field is something that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
My childhood was filled with campfire ghost stories, fairytale ghouls and spooks, and a few real life specters as well. Back then, the paranormal was (mostly) something fun to me—something to fuel my endlessly starving imagination with an ever-flowing supply of games and stories. As I grew into a teen, my best friend at the time (we will call her Emma) introduced me to the world of paranormal television shows. It began with Most Haunted. Emma and I would call each other on the telephone if we couldn’t physically be together to watch the new episode every week so we could share in one another’s fright and excitement and speculation. We were both heartbroken when we found out it was all a hoax—the activity caught in every episode planned and executed by assistants off camera. It wasn’t long after, though, that we found Ghost Hunters on Syfy, and later Paranormal State on A/E.
Those two shows spoke to me on a whole new level. Paranormal State was a show full of college-aged kids not much older than myself back then, and it was the first time that I realized a life like they led could be something I could do, too. Both shows brought the human element of the paranormal up close and personal—focusing on helping individuals and families affected by the hauntings, whether or not hard evidence of the paranormal was captured during the investigations. I admired the lead investigators on those shows—their mission to help people no matter what while also trying to find and prove the truth that there IS life after death.
I longed to be like them—to help people be less afraid. I longed for equipment like those investigators had. I longed for the courage it took to step into the dark places, night vision camera in hand, and not be afraid of what might jump out at you or subtly whisper your name out of a visually empty corner. My fascination with the paranormal soon turned to pure infatuation.
Between ages 14 and 15, I was given a digital still camera and a hand-held video camera with night-vision capabilities as Christmas gifts, and I immediately began performing amateur investigations with Emma. We did this mainly in the basement of her house where we both always felt extremely creeped out. I can still vividly remember sneaking around her basement asking questions to the empty air and snapping photos in the direction of odd sounds which, in retrospect, were most likely just normal house-settling noises. It was exhilarating in a way I had never experienced before—almost addicting.
As high school progressed, I made more friends who shared similar interests. We’d spend weekends driving around our various towns to locally haunted areas—cemeteries, haunted roads, places we’d basically just get slaps on the wrist for “trespassing” in if we were ever actually caught. My friends treated those nights more like a game and were very much in it for the adrenaline rush over anything else. That was fine, but I still wanted the hard evidence. I wanted to see the balls of light, wanted to hear the disembodied voices, wanted to feel the cold spots.
College brought new faces and experiences—and I found that there just weren’t as many people open to the idea of the supernatural around me anymore. To fit in amongst a student body full of jocks and preppy girls, I had to let the paranormal part of my life fade into the background. Emma and I still had “date nights” to watch Paranormal State and Ghost Hunters, but we didn’t go on investigations anymore or fantasize about what it would be like to be real ghost hunters. There wasn’t a point, really. Not anymore. We were in college, needing to pick real life career paths for ourselves. Ghost hunting doesn’t pay the bills.
College changed us. Maybe me more than her. To this day, I’m still not sure. We grew apart in an angry, hateful way that left us barely on speaking terms.
After graduation in spring of 2011, I moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa with a Bachelor’s Degree in English in my back pocket. And my future as a soon-to-be-married, working, bill-paying adult took my entire attention.
I stopped watching the shows. They reminded me too much of Emma and our lost friendship that I was (and still am) too stubborn to try to mend. They reminded me too much of those childhood dreams of being a ghost hunter that were simply not practical. There was a hollow spot in me that I didn’t know how to fill…a restlessness that scratched at the corners of my mind. But life as a newly employed newlywed kept me busy. Being four and a half hours away from my family and friends kept me busy. Being an aunt to my sister-in-law’s beautiful baby boy kept me busy. It was easy to try to fill that empty place in me with the busyness. I lived for everyone else.
I’d go back to watching Ghost Hunters, and later Ghost Adventures, every so often—mainly when new people came into my life with whom I could share that passion. But it took a major life event in June of 2015 to kick start me on the path to following those old dreams and becoming a Paranormal Investigator.
It was a death of sorts. My own death. The death of everything I was before. I won’t go into detail at this time. It’s too personal, and still too fresh. Suffice to say that I never realized how quickly a comfortable and routine life could be turned upside down and inside out. I learned more about myself and my own inner strength and fortitude in one month than I had learned in the twenty-six years of my life prior. I was reborn. Permanently scarred, severely mistrustful, and learning how to walk on new feet, but more confident with myself, my beliefs, and my passions than I ever had been before.
And I felt the calling.