The art of tattooing has come a long way, evolving in how it defines individuals with regards to societal status and growing out of the taboo phase. According to the Smithsonian magazine, it holds ancient and mysterious history that can be tracked as far back as 4000-3500 B.C. One famous 5200-year-old Iceman mummy has more than 50 tattoos. It is said that the tattoos were used for therapeutic measures, rather than symbols. Approximately 85% of the Iceman tattoo’s coincide with acupuncture points. But the exact reason for the tattoos depends a lot upon the culture and the time.
One thing is certain: tattoos have always provided a story reflecting a moment in time, circumstance or expression uniquely personal to the individual. Like a paintbrush to a painter, clay to a sculptor, words to a writer and the camera to a photographer, ink is the tool many talented and underestimated artists use to make a living. For a writer, the world and our experiences ultimately drive our stories, helping us to paint a picture with words. Tattoo artists help bring to life a story and help make a vision come to life for those that choose to use their body as a canvas.
Change is uncomfortable for many people and sometimes more uncomfortable for those closest to you. When deciding to get a tattoo, you should meditate on what it might mean to you. If you don’t want to be detracted, it’s probably best not to ask too many people who aren’t already tattooed themselves. Taking your own advice is the best way to move forward with a tattoo. Certainly, talking to those with tattoos can be a good thing, as they can share tips on how to select an artist, how much it hurts and how to care for it afterward.
It really depends upon where you want your tattoo and how exposed it is to the world. Some people want it hidden, while others don’t mind taking the plunge and getting something visible. According to a 2013 Forbes article, tattoos are no longer a kiss of death in the workplace. Approximately 14% of Americans today have tattoos, as the article explains how 21st Century employers are more open minded, especially in the industries of art and entertainment. Cover-up policies depend upon the company and the type of work one does. The most important thing to keep in mind, according to hiring managers, is that companies judge a candidate based on their skill set and not on their ink.
For the longest time I was the type of person who felt that I needed other people to tell me what to do. It took the responsibility off of my shoulders. But I have also wanted a tattoo on my arm for a very long time. Various people in my life persuaded me not to. They told me that I would regret it; they tried to tell me how it looked. I was told that getting something like an arm tattoo made women appear trashy, homeless, uneducated, and undesirable. They told me how they saw women with arm tattoos or tattoos in general.
Then I realized I held the key to my own answers and didn’t have to ask anyone for permission to do anything. When you realize that you are the God of your own world and that you are in charge of your universe, you realize you know what is best for you. No one else has to live with a tattoo, a divorce, break up, a move or any life-changing event. People can offer up their opinion, and some family members or friends might even disapprove of your decisions. Ultimately, they aren’t living in your body or your shoes, so they can provide input but that is about it.
I no longer absorb perspectives that do not serve me. Never let someone else’s beliefs alter the course of your life. My tattoo is a personal choice I made and I wisely chose Sara Ray, a woman who is an extraordinary artist to use my body as a canvas. I chose the word “abundant” in Korean lettering to remind myself of my culture. I chose my favorite flowers, orchids, to have their beauty with me where ever I go. And I chose a fantasy dragon because that is my Chinese zodiacal animal. It is up to you to take input however you want, whether it will help you in the final decision. If you are making an investment, then you need to discuss it with a financial planner. If you need legal advice, talk to a lawyer. If you are getting your car fixed, visit your mechanic. If it’s a tattoo you’re after, start researching artists.
While tattoos were once used for medicinal purposes, today they document personal stories and can be very therapeutic. Driving across the country from New York to California with my two dogs and what fit in my Prius was a bold decision. It wasn’t easy but I decided that nothing was going to hold me back from following my dreams. Now, I have a tattoo that finally reflects my strength, the content of my character, and the person I have always been.
Tattoos are not for everyone, but I am not living for everyone. I am living for me. Find a form to express yourself and to remind you of your strength and passion in life. So as long as you can take responsibility for your own decisions, own your story and be confident with the choices you have made. You only live once. As long as you are not hurting anyone or doing anything illegal, do what makes you happy.