A story about tattoos

How to decide on a tattoo

I got my first tattoo almost 2 years ago. A fairly large affair that sits on my left shoulder and upper back. It took about 5 hours and enduring the discomfort was part of how empowering the whole situation was for me. I got another one less than a year later, on my upper arm and it was surprisingly more painful. I might get a 3rd but I’m still mulling that over. I really do love my tattoos, I love that I have tattoos, they make me feel liberated and carefree. People’s reactions to them have been resoundingly positive. I live in a city where “having ink” is not that uncommon, take a stroll through the park on a sunny day and it feels like every other person has a little or a not so little personal adornment. Friends and colleagues who aren’t themselves tattooed are usually the most interested and ask the most questions about the process. “I could never do that, I’m scared of needles”, “Did it hurt much?” or most common “I could never decide on what to get, how did you?” It’s a fair point as to state the obvious this is a permanent decision, mess it up and you are stuck with the sad results forever. When I was making my decision about my first tattoo I came at it a little backwards. I knew I wanted one as I felt like I was the kind of person who would, that I was living the life of someone who should have a tattoo, but coming up with a design was really hard. I tried to make my brain come up with something desperately meaningful and clever for probably a few years and nothing materialized. It reminded me of the awful question you get as a kid about what you want to be when you grow up. I am fully adulting right now but hell if I know what I want to finally be, like you get one singular choice and have to stick with it. My life has generally meandered in the direction of what interested me at the time, or what options were open to me and it’s worked out pretty great. I’m on maybe my 3rd or 4th “career” all somewhat interlinked and moving in an upwards direction, but in no ways a nice sensible and crafted pathway between them. So I decided that if my strategy for making life decisions was kinda laissez-faire then maybe I was over thinking the whole tattoo thing. The day I let go of the need for formulating the most me-significant design ever I got my inspiration. A simple depiction of something from nature that I see in my yard almost daily and delights me every single time. A hummingbird feeding from a sprawling bougainvillea vine. I’ve captured on my body something that will always bring me back to this contented time in my life, moving to the house where we now live from our cramped apartment and discovering the pleasures of having an outdoor space and being able to interact with nature. So yeah, I am pretty confident that I got it right and that this design will stand the test of time. If you are struggling yourself with a similar decision, unable to find a design that truly defines you, take a step back and start with the small things that make you happy and see if that sparks something.

person carrying a kitten
Photo by Guy Kawasaki on Pexels.com

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