The psychics I visited in my 20s and early 30s were often socially awkward. I would find them tucked away in semi-deserted shopping arcades shuffling their cards in small, darkened rooms with an obligatory candle or two. Sometimes they’d be working from a spare room in their home, anonymously located in a nondescript suburban street. One man did readings under his old timber house. We sat at a 1970’s Laminex table, surrounded by dusty crates, boxes and assorted junk, and an overgrown lawn.

Many of them were undoubtedly talented psychics (the man under the old house was brilliant), but there was always this air of not quite fitting in. So many of them seemed to exist on the fringes of the ‘everyday’ that most of us lived and experienced.

Of course, I didn’t appreciate that I had similar gifts until I reached my late 30s. I’d had inexplicable blips of insight before then. I would know things I couldn’t possibly know about people when they were in another city or country. But I didn’t really understand what was going on.

But in my 39th year, it felt like all my psychic lights suddenly flooded the landscape. It completely freaked me out and one of my biggest concerns was that I would have to become like those socially awkward psychics I’d met previously; the ones people always saw as ‘just a little bit strange’. Would I have to leave the old me behind? Did I have to become some kind of weird hippie chick and never wear my stilettoes again?

It’s funny the things you worry about when the Universe challenges you to think about yourself differently. Of course, as time went by, it began to make a lot more sense. I discovered there were psychics and energetically-sensitive relatives on both sides of my family. And the anxiety and tearfulness I struggled with as a teenager, and then later as an adult, made a lot more sense when you considered my heightened ability to sense the emotions of others. I just hadn’t understood what was happening. Instead I absorbed everyone else’s emotions and thought they were mine (one of the ‘perks’ of having unmanaged empathic gifts).

It’s been a few years now and I’ve learned to manage my gifts. But I won’t lie and tell you it’s been a seamless and effortless process. Unfortunately there were times when I felt like I was swimming blindfolded and might drown in the unknown. There was so much I didn’t know and for a while I didn’t have anyone to give me the guidance I needed – so my gifts frequently managed me, instead of me managing them. It wasn’t always fun.

But although there have been many weird and wacky experiences, I have realised that I don’t need to live on the fringes of society if I’m psychic. These days there are lots of people like me living very ‘normal’ lives working in corporate jobs, teaching in schools, nursing, creating art, and so on. People like me are everywhere and a lot of them aren’t weird hippie chicks (although yes, some of them are).

I’ve also realised that, like most psychics, I have my gifts for particular reasons that align with my skills and strengths. One of those reasons is so I can help young people to understand and manage their gifts so they don’t have to suffer like I did. After all, if I’d met someone when I was a teenager and they’d helped me to understand I was picking up other people’s stuff and there were ways to buffer that, well, that would have made my life a whole lot easier.

Our souls chose to be psychic or energetically sensitive or highly empathic before we were born in this lifetime. We chose to have these gifts so we could create beautiful lives, help others and make a positive impact on the planet.

And we don’t need to live on the fringes of society to do it.