I got a tattoo today.
My fourth one, actually. So yes, to all the people who questioned if I was going to be addicted or if this whole “getting tattoos” was going to be a “legit thing” after I got my first one when I was 18, it is a real thing. It is the art form in which I have chosen to express myself, from my truest believes to my most sincere passions. Some may not realize that I have entire sleeve planned out (well, quarter-sleeve, but knowing me, it’ll make it the whole way). I admit, that wasn’t always the case. My first tattoo was on my right shoulder; my second, wrapped around my left ankle; my third, inside my right foot. Each tattoo was planned, thought out and I waited at least a year between each one. I always wanted to be sure of what I wanted to do and place it somewhere that I could cover up easy; still wanted to be marketable and get a good job and all that jazz.
Moving out on my own has taught me a lot, but it has also solidified quite a bit for me. And one of those things was my passion for tattoos. I truly believe they are an art form. They are conversation starters. They are silent messages of intrigue. They are untold stories awaiting for an audience. Each of mine has a ten-minute explanation behind them. From the significance of that particular tattoo to why it is styled to a certain way to the specific colors I chose, all of them have a detailed story that no one in their right mind would stand there and listen to as I rambled on. But each one is important to me. And all of my future ones are going to be just as important.
Some of the reasons I was hesitant to get my most recent one (still merely hours old) was due to societal expectations/judgement that have stuck with me since I got my first one four years ago. I’m a woman who majored in Creative Writing and English. My job options after I graduate are already slim. Why make it slimmer by getting tatted up and alienating myself from jobs? Other interesting arguments I’ve heard: Tattoos make you butch, unclean. You really want to spoil a wedding dress with a sleeve? Wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves — you do realize a lot of guys won’t date you now because you have obvious tattoos? (On that last point, I’m doing a great job not finding a guy without the tattoos factoring in, so might as well be happy with my own skin. Plus, my dog will love me no matter how much body art I have, so I still win).
Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of different arguments against tattoos. Some of my responses: 1. On the job front, I used to be really nervous about being a woman and planning a sleeve, and how I would be perceived in the job market world. But I slowly realized that I wouldn’t want to work for a boss who was so judgemental that (s)he wouldn’t hire me simply because of my tattoos. All my tattoos are classy and don’t offend the general public. And not to toot my own horn, but I’m a damn hard worker. If I’m working for you, I’m putting 100% into it and I make sure the job is done right. If I don’t know, I learn how. If I mess up, I fess up and fix it. Good qualities to have in a worker, I think. Having body art doesn’t change that. 2. On the appearance front, my tattoos are one of the only things I actually like about my body. They aren’t trashy to me. They are beautiful. They are my soul exposed to the world. The most honest version of me is portrayed through my ink. How can that not be beautiful?
Body modifications are a personal choice. All of mine are choices I could never regret. And I’m very happy to see that society is slowly coming to be more accepting towards tattoos and piercings. And I’m even more thankful that I come from a family and have friends that accept this choice that I have made. But I’m even happier that I’ve stopped letting the few parts of society that made me fearful to be myself to continue controlling me. This “first” tattoo in the grander vision of my sleeve was a symbol of that: of self-acceptance and societal rejection.
You’re probably wondering what that tattoo even is. To be honest, that was what the entire point of this blog was going to be, describing my new tattoo and the meaning behind it. But somehow it turned into a social commentary on societal acceptance of tattoos…my bad on that front. On my left bicep, I got a quill, in black. Underneath the quill is a quote — a lyric, actually, from my favorite band, Memphis May Fire’s song, “Miles Away.”
“God give me the strength to do what You created me to do.”
When I first heard this song a couple of years ago, it really stuck with me. Throughout high school and my undergrad, I struggled with my faith, something that was so foundational to me when I was younger. And I’ve slowly grown closer to God and my personal relationship with Him. I’m not at the level I once was, but I am working on it. I will always work on it. And I truly believe that God blessed me with…not a talent, necessarily, but with a insane desire, to write. When I write, I am happier than any other time. Working on my books is an amazing feeling, a euphoria that is only experienced when working on them. I recognize the power of words and I am so happy that I occasionally can figure out how to bend and twist those words to my will. But not even my will; not really. It’s His. I wouldn’t write so often if He didn’t want me to. I wouldn’t turn to writing as a form of release, as my medication, as my joy, without Him instilling those emotions within me. I wouldn’t go after this “Starving Artist” degree and constantly fight to be an author if I didn’t believe that was part of His plan for me. So when I heard that line from Memphis May Fire’s song — “God give me the strength to do what You created me to do” — it has stuck with me ever since. That simple prayer for guidance and support from the One who put this fire within me in the first place…it was one of the most powerful things I have come across. And I wanted to always be reminded of that prayer and couldn’t think of a better “center piece” for my sleeve than that.
Today, I finally had the courage to make it a reality. I’m stoked to share this story with you and continue to expose my passions and my beliefs on this blog. Thanks for taking the time to read — I admit it — a rather odd blog. It definitely wasn’t planned to come out like it did, but that’s writing for you. Until next time, I hope you have an awesome weekend and that your arm isn’t nearly as swollen and sore as mine is. 😉