10 Lessons from 10 Years of Investigation

Over the last month, I struggled to pen the words I wanted to say as a reflection of 10 years investigating the paranormal. I was going to say some really deep and inspiring shit and then I began to get annoyed with the person speaking (who also happened to be me). She was arrogant, self-righteous, and overly philosophical. Instead of reflecting on all of the crap that got me here, how that changed my life, and a lot of other squishy bullshit; I’m going to reflect on the things I’ve actually learned. 

  1. Be open to try something new. I wouldn’t be an investigator today if I hadn’t said yes to the first ghost hunt. So say yes when you are invited, say yes to trying new tech, and say yes to working with the new person. You may learn something you never would have expected.  (There are things you should say no to in life but I’m really hoping your parents and teachers have already covered these things). 
  1. Don’t eat chili, smoothies, salads, or anything else that causes your stomach to “act-out.” It really sucks to constantly have to tag your stomach noises on EVP recordings so no one thinks there is a little girl crying in the room. “Sorry guys, just my stomach.” 
  1. You are going to do something stupid. You are going to fall, sit in something gross, break something, misspeak, accidentally insult someone, or just look dumb from time to time. Don’t let your ego ruin the entire investigation over 1 mistake. Be willing to laugh at yourself and take a picture because it will likely become a fun memory. 
  1. You don’t have to wear black or the team t-shirt. It’s ok that you can’t quickly be identified as a paranormal team when you stop at a local café for dinner. Be you, be comfortable. Just don’t wear sequins and flip flops. 
  1. You are not always right. Really. Listen to everyone’s thoughts about a situation and evaluate them all equally. Someone else may have seen, heard, or experienced something that changes your perception of the “right” answer. 
  1. You won’t like everyone. Get over it. I’ve seen a lot of infighting that breaks-up teams and it isn’t pretty. Either you can put aside your negative feelings to continue your investigation journey or you will choose to leave. Don’t make a big deal of it if you do choose to leave. There is a team for everyone, find your place and keep learning. 
  1. You don’t have to be the “lead” anything to be good at investigating. Being the lead isn’t all fun and games. This person often is in charge of arranging who will be attending the investigation, client details, money, coordinating arrival/departure, managing equipment (transportation/set-up/pack-up), managing team placement at the location, making sure all paperwork is signed, dealing with problems on site, and THEN they are working to make sure everyone actually reviews their evidence in a timely manner, managing investigator egos when their evidence is refuted, and coordinates final presentation of said evidence to communicate to the client. This is stressful and time consuming. Be nice to this person and do your part. 
  1. Also, be nice to the person who brings the DVR. DVR’s are cool and REALLY useful to have on an investigation. They are also a pain to set-up, put away, and review. Imagine you set-up 8 DVR cameras during an 8 hour investigation. Your friendly DVR guy/gal will have to go home and review 64 hours of video. Now imagine that person also had a handheld camera or 2. Their weekends just became incredibly dull for the foreseeable future. They are working extra hard for your team to be successful, so be nice. 
  1. Help set-up the equipment. You should know how to set-up and use all of the equipment owned by the team. If you don’t, ask to help so you can learn how to set-up and use the equipment. There is nothing more annoying in an investigation than working your butt off to set-up 8 DVR cameras and place signal equipment throughout a building while one of your teammates scrolls through Facebook. Be helpful and knowledgeable and you will be asked to participate in far more investigations. 
  1. Don’t stop having fun. It’s ok to take parts of the investigation seriously. Likely you have real questions and you want to find answers. You can still have fun while you do it and you should have fun. When investigating becomes a “job” and you stop seeing the adventure in the experience, you will likely lose sight of why you began in the first place. Laugh with your team, don’t put others down, and remember that no one has the answers.  

Here’s to another 10 years and Happy Hunting to all! 

Me at my first investigation at Old South Pittsburg Hospital in November 2010.

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