I’ve always been interested in the paranormal. Ever since I can remember, I’ve gravitated towards stories that involve some sort of supernatural element. The idea of monsters and things that go bump in the night didn’t scare me; they made me want to know more.
I think I consciously knew that I was truly into the paranormal when I was seven years old and standing in a bookstore. Why do I remember being seven at the time? Because when I was seven I was in second grade and had the meanest, most childhood-scarring elementary school teacher possibly on the face of the planet. This woman was like Ms. Trunchbull from Matilda incarnate. She would yell at the class as well as individual students on a daily basis. One time, she tipped over a student’s desk with the student sitting close behind it because they didn’t do a good enough job cleaning it out. I was so traumatized by this teacher that my mom had to call the school and request that I have the Ms. Honey of third grade teachers the following year.
Second grade teacher trauma aside, I was standing in this bookstore when a book of stories caught my eye. It was a book of scary stories. I instinctively started flipping through the illustrated pages until a story caught my eye. It was about a girl who wore a red scarf wrapped around her neck every day. A boy wonders why she’s always wearing this red scarf and one day unravels it. When he does, her head falls off.
Now some seven year olds might have slammed the book shut and run screaming. I, on the other hand, thought that the story was wicked cool, enough so that many years later I still remember it.
My interest in the paranormal continued to grow as I grew up. Anything on TV involving ghosts, vampires, aliens, etc… you name it I was watching it. I grew up playing with my Little Tikes with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files on in the background. I would rush home after school to watch Goosebumps looking forward to be in for a scare.
The thing is, in elementary school the other kids looked on my fascination with the supernatural as a phase, something that I would eventually put behind me in favor of more mainstream interests. Once I hit middle school, they raised eyebrows and started to question without disguising how weirded out they thought I was becoming. By high school, it became snicker-worthy among most of the other students.
When I went to college, however, everything changed. Because in college the things that make you different, made you dubbed “weird” growing up, are not only accepted, they’re celebrated because they make you interesting and make you stand out from the crowd. People, especially professors and the true power-players, pay attention to interesting. Interesting is different. Interesting brings something new to the conversation. Interesting is untapped potential.
For example, when it came time for me to write my thesis my mentor suggested I work with vampire literature. I was beyond excited because my passion for the paranormal was being recognized as valuable. Not only was I able to write about a topic I loved, but I also received grants from my college to fund my research. This came as even more of a shock. People were willing to pay me to read about vampires and watch vampire movies! If this was The Twilight Zone then I wasn’t leaving.
As I continued my research and talked about my ideas, people didn’t think I was weird. They wanted to know more and were fascinated by what I had to say. I wasn’t weird. I was different.
So if you’re into something that other people think makes you “werid,” try not to think about it. Because in the end, the things that make you different make you awesome.