When you Believe in Ghosts, the Struggle is Real


Madison Rojas '23

It’s almost Halloween and you know what that means, time for ghost stories! Digital drawing by Madison Rojas ’23

I’m not a superstitious person. I don’t believe in good luck charms or getting bad luck by opening an umbrella indoors. I’m practical. I think logically. But there is one part of me that falls victim to superstitions. Something so embarrassing that I can barely even admit it. I believe in ghosts. I don’t want to seem like those creepy guys on the Discovery channel who spew weird facts about ghosts but that’s actually how I came to believe in them. 

I vividly remember being around eight-years-old and sitting with my father on our couch downstairs watching Ghost Adventures, a show where a group of middle-aged men with neckbeards and dressed all in black explore haunted houses and try to capture ghosts on camera. Now if you were to ask any rational person, they would say that everything that happens on Ghost Adventures is all fake. It’s all lighting, sound editing, and creepy music. I mean who would actually believe that these guys were able to record a real ghost. Well eight-year-old me did. In fact, ever since I watched my first episode of that horrendous show, the fear of ghosts has been ingrained in my brain. 

My fear of ghosts has affected many parts of my life, I have lost relationships, job offers, and awards over my phobia. Just kidding, being afraid of ghosts has never limited me that much. But for many years, I couldn’t even fall asleep in my own bed because I was worried that Bloody Mary would creep out from underneath my bed and speak to me in a British accent (I don’t really know what that lady does if I’m being honest). 

Back when I used to be a fan of sleepovers, my affection has since changed, I would never want to be left in a room alone at my friend’s house because you never know whose house was built on a graveyard (I don’t think any of my friends live on graveyards but you have to be careful with these sort of things). As a ghost-fearer, I stay away from paranormal-themed horror movies, ghost halloween costumes, and spooky music like Monster Mash (yes, even that joyful song will send me reeling into a pit of despair). Over the years, I have tried to step out of my comfort zone and explore a little more into my paranormal fear. 

Overcoming my fear of ghosts takes baby steps but the first thing I have done is to research what ghosts are. When sitting down to write this essay, I took some time to look up information about ghosts. After about five minutes of scrolling through #ghoststories on Instagram, I got scared and decided to give up on research. 

Next, I faced my fear by watching an episode of Ghost Adventures, the root of all my problems. I couldn’t even get through one episode. Once those guys started talking to “dead orphans.” I shut the TV off without a second thought. 

Additionally, I conducted a very serious journalistic investigation into ghost activity in my house which included me going into my bathroom, staring at my closed shower curtain for a while to decide if I see a shadow behind. Opening said shower curtain to find my shower empty, and determining that my bathroom is ghost free.

Finally, I decided to spend the night in a haunted house to really immerse myself in my fear — ya know, some good ‘ol exposure therapy. Well who knew that staying at a haunted house was so expensive? It was just too much planning and moving things around so that plan fell through (oh no, I am so sad about it …).

As the leaves turn from green to green (I live in California, fall is just summer but with wind) and Halloween decorations begin to dot neighborhood front yards, I am plagued by ghosts. Everywhere I turn there’s a creepy little ghost doll hanging off someone’s tree or a ghost sticker on a classroom window, it’s like their little beady ghosts eyes are mocking me. 

“Ha ha ha, an almost eighteen-year-old legal adult is scared of ghosts, what a weakling, ha ha ha”, is what the ghosts seem to say, as well as “woman-up and stop being afraid of us!” 

I find myself asking, will I ever be free from this prison in my mind? Will I ever overcome my ghost fear? I’ve lived with this phobia for almost ten years now, maybe I should try to bury it once and for all. Or maybe I’ll just stick to avoiding all horror movies this Halloween and binge a cheesy movie musical instead.