As many of you know, I have tattoos.
Whether you are for them or against them, whether you want some or regret some, I thought I would share my position on them. To me, a tattoo is not about looking cool. It is a permanent way to memorialize something that is very near and dear to you. It's not about showing it off, or looking cool. I would never get anything that didn't mean something to me. I find it to be an art form, using the body as a canvas. It takes perfect precision, and its permanence makes it mean that much more. It's pretty amazing that everyday people are willing to let tattoo artists permanently mark their bodies.
I have never had a bad experience with them; I take care of them while they heal and the artist I go to is such a nice guy; I would never go to anyone else. He'll work with you to make sure you're getting what you want, the way you want it.
If anyone ever tells you that people aren't going to judge you for having them, they're lying. I was one of those people that used to say, 'oh, it doesn't matter. Once they talk to me they'll realize I'm fine.' Problem is, it is a deterrent for people to talk to you. Growing up always watching my back and not saying more than a few words to people I don't know, this isn't a big issue for me. But you definitely get some looks here and there. Some are interest, but the majority are condescending, and sometimes even a look of disgust. I ignore it; they don't know me, and judging by their actions, most likely never will. My tattoos are things that will never be separated from me by my own choice. It's their loss if they choose to look down upon me.
I currently have 4 tattoos total... and planning to get 7 or 8 more (for now). So if you were ever wondering what they meant, or where my mindset and justification is for having each one, here you are:
1. Jesus with wings
This was the first one I ever got. It was the day before I left for college. I have been raised as a Catholic, and being that college brings about many new experiences and challenges, I knew that through it all I did not want to let my religion be affected with all of those changes. My mother begged me to wait a year to think it over. But I knew then and reaffirm now that I was right in my decision to get it then. It almost gives me a visible guardian angel to look over me every second of every day in my life. Everytime I see it in the mirror, it is a reminder that I chose this religion, and I intend fully to keep it.
2. brothers forever
Location: left bicep
If you know me well, you know I'm not big on my family. We've had a lot of issues and I don't talk to them much. I just feel like we don't get along. Despite that fact, my brother and I are especially close. We agree on a lot of things and get each other through a lot. Not sure where we'd be without each other. I can't promise that we'll always be able to easily see each other -- but one thing will always remain true: The fact that we are brothers forever. The design is ambigramic in nature to represent the reciprocation of help we give each other, as well as the reciprocation of love.
3 & 4. courage/inner strength
Location: inner forearms
On the left forearm is the chinese characters for courage. On the right in the same place, lies inner strength. Why Chinese characters? I wanted something symbolic, not necessarily just words. Something that I would know what it meant, but most others wouldn't. The whole reason is as follows. If I approach a fork in the road in life, and don't know which way to turn, I want to have the courage to take the road less traveled. However, on the other hand, if I know that path is the wrong one for me, and represents temptation, I want to be able to have the inner strength from God to make sure that is not the path I choose. Their juxtaposition is the reason why they are on opposite arms.
The next part is a list of future tattoos I plan to get, and the reasons why.
5. phoenix bird
Location: left side of ribs
This was supposed to happen early on, but I couldn't make it happen due to lack of time and money. The inspiration was from the movement from high school and that living style to the completely different style of virtually living on your own at school. In a sense, it was a sort of rebirth, in the same way that the phoenix turns to ashes and begins anew. It was a new point in my life, and there will continue to be those milestones in my life that are a big deal.
6 & 7. Hail Mary & Our Father
Location: left inner arm and right inner arm
This one should be pretty obvious. These prayers, though seemingly monotonous when said every week at mass, mean a lot to me. One venerates the virgin mother Mary and the other to our heavenly Lord. They'll be written in script on my inner arms, right beside the inner strength and courage tattoos, a constant reminder that no matter how it may seem, I am never alone. All I have to do is pray. At some point I think I'd probably want to eventually get the Nicene creed on me as well -- for that is what Catholicism is all about. Some people have asked me what Catholicism is and the best way to explain it is through the Creed. That is our profession of faith, that is what we believe as Catholics.
8. in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti
Location: collar bone
This one is "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Another religious tattoo, though that's pretty obvious. This one thing is so simple, but it means a lot to me. Making the sign of the cross is one thing a lot of people do without much thought. But one of the things that's special about it is that it is so simple. It can be done anywhere at any time as a little self blessing to get you through a hard spot. The Holy Trinity is exercised (perhaps not the best word choice there) through this, and having it on me would make me think in a more profound way when I make the sign of the cross.
Location: over my heart
9.11 was one of the most devastating days for our country, but for me it really hit home. I was only in 5th grade, and I can remember that day to a T with vivid clarity. There isn't a single detail that I have forgotten, despite how long ago it was. I knew kids' parents who worked there and died there, or were declared missing for weeks as they eventually were erased from existence as more and more that were missing were proclaimed dead, erasing them from existence. It was all horrifying, and I remember one of my favorite places in NJ, Sandy Hook, you can actually see downtown Manhattan. That day, though I wasn't there, I knew that all you could see was smoke. I can't stand when people say that it was a plot that the government did behind the public's back. How ignorant can you possibly be; try telling that to the families that lost their kids or the kids that lost a parent or a friend or a loved one. It makes me want to punch them in the face. It's the one thing thus far in my life that I have no idea how I will explain to my kids, and even if I manage to get something out, I know I'll have tears streaming down my face. It really hit home, is all I can say. And thus I feel the need to memorialize it, and never forget what happened that day.
10. "Happiness is only real when it is shared"
Location: right ribcage
I plan to have this written down my side in script. The quote is from the movie Into the Wild, which I strongly recommend if you haven't already seen it. Basically a boy decides to leave everything behind, with no way of finding or contacting the rest of the world, and just live life. In the end he realizes that there is no point to all the greatness around him and all of the natural wonders, without someone to share it with. This quote also embodies my longing desire to have someone to eventually permanently share my life with. I don't know when or where it will happen, but I really hope it does. I simply can't see myself being truly and completely happy without having that one particular significant other in my life. I hope you're out there, whoever you are.
11. Cross sleeve
Location: entire right arm
Filling in the extra space of my right arm I want to get a sleeve of crosses; I haven't yet decided if I want them to be all different styles or all the same style. But it's one of the simplest symbols in Christianity, yet such an important one. Each one would drive home the point of how much Christ endured to save all of us from our sins. That means so much, and words can't really express how amazing that is to me.
12. My world.
This one is still in the works -- but I'm in the process of designing some stuff in photoshop. Basically the concept is that there is a globe, but all the continents are things that make up me; distinct things that are specific to me, that are things that truly represent who I am. It can be anything -- and it's definitely a work in progress for now. My thought is to put it sort of behind / underneath the tattoo I currently have on my back. I like that because then it would sort of show that Christ is in the forefront of my world, and is the biggest part, or at least should be. However I don't want to taint the purity of that one image on such a clean slate of skin with another tattoo. If you have an opinion or comment on this, feel free to share. I certainly would love to hear responses.
Well, that's all I have planned for now. There's definitely some work to be done. Everything I get has a story, has a meaning, has some sort of special quality to it. And I love that about tattoos. It's a great way to remember things and memorialize them, if that's your fancy and you're willing to deal with the pain. A close friend once told me that he respected me for "taking the 'body is a temple' concept to a whole new level." That's really a good way to put it. I'm sure there will always be people who look down upon me for them, think I look trashy, or think I'm defacing my body with crap. But, it's my body, and my temple, and I intend to celebrate the one body I've got that God made me. If you want to talk about tattoos at all, from discussing an idea to me going with you to get one or anything else about the process, just ask. I'd love to hear from you.
I hope that this post, despite its length, has maybe opened your eyes to why I love tattoos so much, and why I've chosen the ones that I have. The ink truly runs deeper than the skin -- it goes straight to the soul.
**sorry this post is late, I know I wanted to post everyday, but I'll have another up later today I promise.