Courage Is Getting A Self-Love Tattoo
| Andrea Rivas
When I was little (and not so little) I remember thinking tattoos were something unintelligible. I didn’t judge but I didn’t get why they were “bad” either. I asked a couple of adults who surrounded me, including my parents, and I just got radically negative answers. I couldn’t understand why they were full of bad perceptions so I ignored them and forgot about tattoos.
Years went by and my perception of the world and my beliefs began to shape themselves in many ways. That’s what’s supposed to happen as you grow up, you discover yourself and the world around you. My issue showed up when I realized how much I disagreed with my parents. Every time I used to bring up my thoughts about certain subjects I just felt uncomprehended.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents are amazing. They are the most caring people I know, but I have to acknowledge they were born in a completely different world than the one I live in right now. They don’t understand modern views on tattoos, equality, the LGBT community and a bunch of other stuff. So me getting a tattoo seemed to them like I'd gone out of my mind.
But yes, I still got it. On June 1st (like… a few days ago) I got my first tattoo. I was scared as hell. I made my appointment on Thursday night and went with a friend during lunch break at work on Friday. Crazy, right? In less than twenty-four hours I planned the whole thing.
I was so nervous I could barely concentrate all morning at work. I just kept drawing what I wanted to get tattooed while I was having so many second thoughts like: “Do you really want to do this? What if you regret it? Is it too dumb? I mean it’s not like you’re getting a tattoo out of the loss of a loved one or something like that.” Thoughts kept going around in my head keeping me from realizing what mattered the most: I was doing this because I deserved it. And maybe you are asking yourself: you deserve what, girl? It’s just a tattoo.
It was just a tattoo. But for me it was more than that. It was me standing up for myself, it was me making decisions without my parents’ approval, it was me getting out of my first heartbreak, it was me being okay without all the answers, it was me growing, it was me being brave, it was me trusting, it was me full of certainty. It was me flowing.
I know tattoos are not supposed to have meanings if you don’t want them to, but mine does. My heart was broken last year. I’m still young and my heart has been broken just once, but I really thought I was going to die at some points. I remember some days, in the middle of a deep void, the only thing that could calm my anxiety attacks was the sound of the sea. I downloaded every single meditation app until I found the one with the most beautiful and relaxing sounds of the sea.
I listened to it every night and whenever else I could. I used to spend hours looking at the sea not far from my house, too. I was mesmerized by the way it moved to and away from me. I was amazed by what you could learn from really seeing something you’ve become used to seeing. That was when it hit me and I decided to get a wave tattoo.
I love the sea, but it scares the hell out of me. The sea means trust, it means letting yourself be out of control. It means being capable of staying calm in the middle of the storm, trusting you will get to the shore eventually. The sea means acceptance of your circumstances. Acceptance of yourself. Though the water that hits the shore is always different it remains the same. It never settles. It always pushes. It always perseveres. The sea knows when to be calm and when not to be. The sea is where my first relationship started as if it tried to tell me, “I will be here when everything shatters.”
I have proven to myself that being different is my superpower. I'm not who others think I am or who they want me to be and I can choose who I'm becoming, always grateful for those who made the path worth it. I’m proud of who I am. I’m proud of being different.
Facing my fears and getting a tattoo helped me prove to myself that being an intense human being is okay and I can bring light to the lives of those whose hearts and inner voices are constantly silenced by their heads. Looking at my little wave reminds me that the sea both drowned and saved me and I would do it all over again.