Before I dive into this post, I’d like to do the age-old “Wow, life happened and that’s why I haven’t posted in a while” spiel. So thank you in advance for indulging me.
Oh hello there 2020! It feels like I stumbled into the new decade carrying the clutter of my mind that I was hoping to leave in 2019. I’ve had a whirlwind of a start to the year and somehow I’ve arrived at the tail-end of February 2020 (as I’m writing this). It sort of feels like I’m on a treadmill, months behind, trying to catch up to the marathon that is this new decade. But here I am, trudging through as always. I’m more grateful than ever to be healthy, to have chosen and be a part of a support system that has carried me through more than they even know, and to be here to embark on this new year.
Speaking of running metaphors, I’ve started running again. Why you ask? Well, since you asked so nicely, I’ll tell you. The simple answer is that I signed up for a half marathon in April. Consequently, out of sheer fear of being unprepared for what will be my second half marathon, I’m training. The complicated answer, yet still pretty simple in my opinion, is that I think I needed a literal kick in the ass. To say the least, I’ve had a ROUGH past six months mentally and emotionally, but I think I needed a physical manifestation of pain and therefore growth. Oh…you thought that masochistic Melissa was left in 2019? Nope, she’s still here, alive and well. But let me explain so I don’t come off as a complete psychopath.
After running my first half marathon back in 2017, I remember telling myself, “Cool. That’s over, that was kind of horrible, I don’t think I’ll do that again.” But on a whim back in November, I decided to sign up for a half marathon to force myself out of a comfort zone that I’ve made for myself. I don’t consider myself a runner because frankly, I’m not really good at it. I’m slow, I somehow end up in pain most times and I wouldn’t say I have great endurance. Did I mention I’m slow? Anyways, thus far, I have definitely been reminded of how humbling navigating physical pain is, how encouraging it feels to work on overcoming it and how empowering it is to notice growth. So that’s why I’m doing it. I also felt like I needed to be outside more. S.A.D. got me good this winter.
Anyways, that was my not-so-short update on life since my last post. Now onto the real reason why I’m here. I got my first tattoo! Hence the cheesy post title *shrugs*. I wanted to document the origin of the idea and why it means so much to me. I originally meant to write and publish this post before the end of December, but like I mentioned, life happened, I took time to let myself process and I’m glad I waited to be in a lighter headspace. I’m hoping it’s helped me better articulate what you are about to read.
I grew up in a culture and environment that considers tattoos taboo. It’s never been addressed directly, but the implication is there. The reaction I received (or lack there of) from my parents upon showing them my tattoo reinforces the taboo. There is a misunderstanding as to why I would even want a tattoo and no desire to want to know more about it. But it’s alright though, I’ve long since accepted my place as the family black sheep and this little tattoo is just buying into the branding. LOL. I know they still love me. Plus, if they really wanted to know what the tattoo means to me, this post will be here for them.
I wanted a tattoo for a number of years and always seemed to find an excuse as to why I shouldn’t get one. All throughout college I wanted one, played with some design ideas, but never followed through. I thought that maybe I was just going through a delayed rebellious phase. LOL. I was scared that it would hurt. Well, it did hurt. But honestly, I’ve gone through emotional and mental strife worse than the physical pain of getting a tattoo…TMI? Sorry not sorry. I will also add that this is a pretty small and fine-lined tattoo. So I feel like I was spared a lot of pain.
A lot of my hesitation was also based on what others thought or may think about me. What would my parents think? What would future me think? I was told by some to really think about what I wanted and if in two years I still wanted it, then get it. Others questioned: How would I know I’ll like that (referring to the intended artwork) later in life? Well, I let a lot of time pass and here I was, heading towards 2020, a chameleon to what others thought on the matter. Why did I care so much about the hypothetical opinions about something as inconsequential as a freakin’ tattoo?! It was insanity. So that was the catalyst. The idea that I allowed myself to be a bystander in my own life scared me more than the potential thoughts my parents (or anyone really) would have, the pain I would “endure” to get the tattoo and the potential that my future-self would loathe my present-self for getting it. HOW INSANE IS THAT?? I’m trying to live my life in reality, not in hypotheticals people.
I’ve always feared and admired the commitment required when getting a tattoo. People decide to get tattoos for a plethora of reasons. Whether it’s to commemorate a loved one or important date in one’s life, or purely out of love of the craft and art. I love that a tattoo can be so many things for people. My body’s a temple right? Why not place some really beautiful pieces of art in that temple 🙂
This first tattoo means so many different things to me. So let’s break it down:
- The symbol – An ampersand. I’ve always loved how the symbol looked. I’ve seen it in so many pieces of literature, written so many different ways. The flowing lines and the way it has been adapted throughout the years is amazing. An ampersand is a logogram representing the phrase “and, per se, and” AKA “and.” For me, it’s symbolizes continuation. There is more to me than what I allow most people to see; there is more to be experienced in the story that is my life; there are many more seasons of growth ahead of me; beyond the pain there are many more lessons to be learned; there are so many things and people to be grateful for in my life. This symbol encapsulates abundance and appreciation of myself and the life I have. My life is abundant. During some of my darker times, I need that reminder. Now I won’t forget.
- Position and Direction – The tattoo is on my inner left wrist, facing me. I wanted it to be seen and read by me before anyone else. It’s on my left arm because I’m left-handed and I wanted it placed there as a visual reminder that while I exist in a world tailored for the opposite of who I am: left-handed, woman, woman of color, etc. I find strength in those unique qualities. That is what makes me, me.
- Nature – Intertwined branches, leaves, flowers both as buds and fully bloomed illustrate the happenings of life. It’s an oxymoron, but the way the fine lines intertwine with each other is delicate. But in the same way, the intertwining of branches create strength that hold up the leaves and the flowers that come and go. As seasons pass, we grow new branches, those branches grow buds, those buds bloom into beautiful flowers, and then back to branches we go. It’s a constant cycle. Seeing the tattoo is a daily reminder to express gratitude for the delicate life I get to experience through it’s ups and downs; and the strength I’ve developed and will continue to develop along the way.
Onto the Next
I got this tattoo back in November 2019. I kept it to myself, close friends and family for these four months and I’m glad I did. It allowed me time to let it heal, get it re-touched, let it heal again, let myself get used to it, and really appreciate it. The first few weeks I actually freaked out and regretted getting it done (I didn’t tell anyone this though…I figured saying it out loud would make the regret true, so I didn’t). I found myself hiding it underneath sweaters and long sleeves, being hyper aware that my tattoo was underneath. But what I found comforting was that it was winter, so long sleeves and sweaters didn’t seem out of the ordinary. After those few weeks of doubt, I find myself literally stopping in the middle of my day, seeing it and mouthing the words “omg it’s so cute.” 🙂
I love what this cute little first tattoo of mine means to me. It’s part of my story and I am proud of it…and yes, you read it right. I did say first. I already have tattoos two and three brewing in my head. I’m also working on seeing who from my cousins would be down to go in on some ink with me. FAM TATTOO!! No real takers yet…but I totally get it. Maybe they’ll come around one day.
Big shout out to Wilber at Baron Art Tattoo! He adapted a sketch a friend of mine made into the final artwork. Their artists are all so talented and specialize in different types of tattoo art. Highly recommend, 10/10. Check them out if you are in the market for some ink. I went to their second location in Long Beach…so dangerously close to where I live lol.
Anyways, if you read this far, wow. Thank you for taking the time to share in this joy with me. Onto the next!
Hmm…is this going to turn into a tattoo blog now? *contemplates life choices* 😛