[15] 29 Lessons

Don't get a tattoo.

Now. Before you get all defensive, this is not actual commentary on tattoos, rather more poking fun at myself for the time I thought I was going to get a tattoo and why I was going to get a tattoo and when I realized what all the tattoo-getting-talk was about.

However, I should note my general thoughts on tattoos on the larger female population, which is not that they are wrong or gross; but that lots of women get tattooed as part of a trend. Read: the nickname "Tramp Stamp." Or more importantly, at one point in history, women thought it was cool to get dolphins tattooed above their ankles. Wait. Is that cool again? All this to say, I'm just an outsider to the world of tattooing (which, writing that made me think of Star Wars? Any other nerds?), but these are my basic observations of the female tattoo. 

On the flip side, I have plenty of female friends with some gorgeous ink, and I'm thinking in particular of one of my dearest, Rebecca, who has brightly colored tattoos with all the best meanings. And I think they look perfect on her, probably especially because I know the stories, but also because her arms rock. 

I actually had no story I wished to have permanently injected on my body during the time period when I thought about getting a tattoo. Now, from the beginning, this was an irrational train of thought because I am terrified of needles. But early in my twenties, I decided to disregard that fear and convince myself I needed some crazy cool tattoos. (Mom, I'm sorry if this is shocking you.) Likely it had something to do with living in Capitol Hill, among the tattooed; and, from my perspective at the time, having just signed myself into full adulthood by getting married. So I thought I needed to do something reckless while I was *still young*.

Oh, I toyed with different designs and ideas. For awhile I thought, well, my anniversary will always be important to me, so I should have the date scribed along my rib cage. But: Ouch. And also: Would that look like I had been barcoded?


The point was not really that I wanted a tattoo. I have seen some beautiful ones, but from the broad perspective, I don't exactly have the inked personality. And the bigger point was that I was trying to be impulsive. Which is funny. Because, semantics.

For whatever reason, I connected impulsivity to youth, and my youth was something I felt had suddenly slipped away. Or I felt I'd robbed myself of it by being so forward-thinking all the time. At 25, I'd really moved through life's traditional steps, and suddenly I feared that I might regret not having a rebellion. I needed to act fast and be permanently marked with "that time I did something young and carefree."

But, guys, I processed this. I even wore permanent marker on my rib cage for like a week to research if I liked seeing something on my body every time I got out of the shower. I had long conversations about it with Trevor (who does have a tattoo) and ignored all the times he rolled his eyes at me. Even though I wanted something to be a symbol of my youthful and blissful ignorance, I recognized the permanence of it. I couldn't get past that. I couldn't think about what it would have been like to have a tattoo then; I could only worry about how I'd feel about a tattoo later.

It's simple, duh. I am not an impulsive person. 

One thing I've learned as a mother of young children is that personalities show themselves so incredibly early. And sure, we all grow and experience personal change and shifting tastes; but there are some things at our core that seem to sort of just always exist there. As long as we have been, they are there. For me, that's been a lifetime of always thinking ahead and trying to make a responsible (and therefore sometimes conservative) decision. 

Since that time, I have learned to stretch beyond my personal limitations in many areas, but I don't think getting a tattoo was necessary for that growth. Honestly, after two kids before 30, I'm thinking it's a good thing I didn't do the rib cage tattoo, yes? But the bigger lesson for me was that I needed to stop defining myself by others' standards. Impulsivity isn't really in me, and that doesn't matter. It's not a character flaw--in some ways it is a strength. I learned to find adventure in the things that suited me and where life was taking me. And that's really the point. We have no idea what is coming up ahead--there is always room for a surprise, and certainly the best page turns are not forced. Heck, if you had told me in January I'd be moving to New York in May, I'd never have believed you. But here we are. 

Even if I had gotten the tattoo, maybe I wouldn't have regretted it. It might have been painful and silly, but I probably would have gotten round to this same realization. And then I'd have that reminder always with me to love myself as I am. I suppose if I ever get the itch again, I can always pull my permanent marker back out.