Has anyone ever commented on your tattoos? Did they immediately ask, “What do they mean?”. That’s a lot of pressure at that moment to come up with a decent answer. The least interesting answers could be “I liked them” “They look cool” or a quick “I don’t know” and move along. But when family members, who may not approve, chide you into justifying a permanent mark on your body, you start to feel like they MUST have true sentiment otherwise the fear of regret sets in.
In the dawn of tattooing, many cultures used body modification to represent deep and substantial meanings. They told stories and were often earned. They could be recognized for their significance. The tattoo tells the story itself. In today’s day, you cannot infer intimate histories at a single glance. That’s considered problematic. Therefore, if someone is curious enough, they will ask about the story behind them.
When I was 18, just starting my journey of tattoo collecting, I had to find meaning to justify it in my mind. This way when my family had something to say, I had a rebuttal, ready and waiting. I look back and realize, that even the importance it held when I was 18, is no longer relevant. Today, I feel very untroubled about getting a tattoo that I didn’t ponder over for months or even years.
I don’t believe tattoos must have a meaning for you to get one. They can be something that brings you joy, or something that makes you laugh. It can be a collection of art from an artist you admire and respect. Now, there is something very heartwarming about getting a tattoo that holds special meaning, although it should not be a requirement. Don’t let that be an obstacle when you decide to get your next tattoo.
Eventually, they begin to tell the story of you, your history, the things you were passionate about, the people you loved enough to tattoo their name, the dark times that may have brought on the urge for a tattoo. They are with us for life, watching us grow, evolve, and sometimes move on. And that’s okay.