By Chrissy Tolley

Photo by Paul Blair Gordon


The night I launched my business, I curled into a ball on my bed and didn’t speak for half an hour. This behavior should have alarmed my boyfriend, but he’s used to it. “I think I just need to be scared for a while,” I whispered. He nodded.

A great way to trigger your impostor syndrome is to launch a business as a psychic medium. Double points if five people email you immediately afterward asking some version of, “Can you talk to this specific dead person? Because if you can’t, I don’t believe you’re real.”

I’m not an impostor. But if the standards for proving I’m not an impostor are completely out of my control, there’s a good chance I’ll be seen as one.

The most experienced medium in Tucson charges $400 an hour, and her policy is the same as mine: we’ll see who shows up. If a medium guarantees you they can speak to a specific dead person and get the answers you need, they’re a fraud. If they claim you just have to sit back while they do all the work, they’re a performer. If they say they can make all your problems go away (for a small, recurring fee!), they’re a salesperson, and a good one.

I’m not a fraud, so I won’t lie to you: no, I can’t guarantee anything when it comes to dead people. Dead people are the least enjoyable aspect of my work for that very reason. I can help people heal trauma no problem; I’ve been doing that my entire life. I have absolutely no idea if your grandfather will show up and tell me to tell you the exact thing you want to hear, but I can almost guarantee he won’t. Your family has never given you exactly what you wanted—that’s not their karmic job. Working with me is not going to change why families exist.

Another thing clients keep doing is telling me as little information as possible so as to see if I already know it. I only know what God wants me to know, and if I knew absolutely everything about everyone, I’d end up back in the psych ward. My goal is to run a psychic medium business without going insane. It’s possible for me to know confidential information about everyone I encounter, but digging for information in a person’s psyche several times day in a performative attempt to “prove myself” so they hire me is a solid way to lose my shit.

 Don’t tempt me, people.

I get people’s hesitations. I absolutely do. But the less they trust me, the higher their energetic shields are, and the more difficult it is to collect information I need to help them. I end up having to communicate with their guides, and frankly, your spiritual guides are even weirder than you think they are. The guides are usually a team comprised of your guardian angel, a forgiveness angel, a deity figure or two, and like, four great-grandmothers. And those are just the ones I know about. I don’t have sight, which means I don’t see anything. I just feel and hear stuff, which is both a blessing (Good news: I don’t see dead people) and a curse (Bad news: Wow, a lot of people are talking right now). Sometimes what they’re telling me makes sense, and sometimes it really doesn’t. And it doesn’t help when they’re giving me conflicting information. If it sounds like I’m arguing with myself, it’s because they are. I usually end up tuning them out and speaking from the heart after politely communicating the old spiritual adage, “Y’ALL AREN’T HELPING.”  

How talking to dead people feels sometimes

How talking to dead people feels sometimes

Most professional mediums are in their fifties or sixties. They have goofy websites with fairies on them and say things like,  “Honestly, honey, you can do better.” I know a few of them in Tucson, and like them all. Every single one of them is surprised I’m starting this work so early. Most mediums don’t begin professional work until they’re well into their thirties or forties, and even then without much dedication. They're better than I am at dead people stuff because they've been doing it for thirty years longer (and are way more expensive because of it). But my generation is different. Let’s be real: I want a book deal. I want speaking gigs where only the nice dead people show up. I want Instagram followers and a long-ass email list and the ability to help as many people as possible with as little effort as possible. If that means I start when I’m twenty-seven and fuck up sometimes during the first few years, then so be it.

I suggest you see me now, because when I’m sixty, I’ll charge well over $400.

I'll be worth every penny.