I have a reputation for being a “good girl.” And honestly, it’s been earned. I’m polite in mixed company, friendly, well-spoken, shy in groups, and petite. I’m not the friend you call when you want to throw a wild party. Instead, I’m the designated driver, the voice of reason. Everything about me reads “girl next door” (I hate how E! has ruined that phrase. I mean, really.).
So the fact that I want a tattoo would shock the people I grew up with – probably my parents, certainly my extended family, and maybe even my friends. And although it’s not such a rebellious thing to do anymore (several of my IRL friends have them, many of my family members, and apparently tons of the twitter crowd), it’s still outside my comfort zone.
There’s the pain for one thing. I don’t do pain. At all. Yes, I know I’ve given birth, twice. I’ve herniated a disc in my back. I’ve broken bones. But to decide to sit while someone shoves a needle in and out of your arm for 10-15 minutes? There’s something different about that kind of pain. I worried about what people might think, too. What would my father say? And would it keep me from getting hired later on if I return to public school? Now, I’m proud to say that I care little enough about what others think to do what I want instead. It’s not that others’ opinions don’t matter. It’s just that they matter 1% and mine matters 99%.
But more than all of that, it’s the commitment that kept me from it for so long. How could I choose what to adorn my body with, forever? I’d need it to be meaningful. A flower, a bird, a star…none of those would be worth the pain. I mean, this is art on my body we’re talking about. I want it to represent me in some way. I briefly thought about having my daughters’ names or birthdates, but realized I want this to be about ME. Something that sums up who I am and something I love.
I couldn’t think of an image, so I challenged myself to think of a quote. And then a quote got whittled down to a word. Party because it will hurt less, but also? Because sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes one word is really all you need, if it’s the right one. If I could come up with one word that I could live by for as long as I have the tattoo…one word that speaks to who I am not just as a mother, or teacher, or wife, but as a whole person…then I would take the plunge.
During my pregnancy, the word came to me. It’s how I want to live my life now that I know it doesn’t have to be ruled by fear and anxiety. It sums up everything I’ve accomplished, growing as a person in the last several years, becoming more whole, and is necessary for living life to its fullest. It’s my life goal, my one word.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.
I’m excited and nervous – but determined not to let fear keep me from doing something wild and crazy and totally out of my comfort zone. I’m torn as to whether I should wait until I’m not nursing anymore. Some places won’t even ink you if they know you’re breastfeeding. But that’s okay. I’m committed. Whether it’s now, several months, or a year. I’m going to do it.
So tell me…or link to pictures…are you inked? If so, why did you choose what you did? What does it mean to you?