If you were to ask me four years ago if I would ever get a tattoo, my answer would be a firm ‘no’. Now, one tattoo and a million ideas for my second later, here I am. When I first got to college, I was totally against tattoos for myself. As much as I liked seeing other people’s tattoos, and as much as I liked the idea of a tattoo, I never thought it was for me. There’s something about it being so permanent that scared the living hell out of me, but now that’s the one thing I love the most.
Let me rewind to sophomore year. I was living in my second dorm room with a new roommate, just accepted my first ever scholarship, and landed my first internship. I was on top of the world. It was one of my first grown-up moments in life, and it was fun to post about it on social media and call my parents to tell them the news. I loved to see and hear all of my family and friends excitement for me, but I wanted something permanent. Something that I could remember forever. Something that would remind me forever of how great I felt in that very moment.
The ink on my paper wasn’t going to last and the virtual ink on my Facebook would soon just get pushed to the bottom of the pile, covered up by everyone else’s good news. I decided to turn to another form of ink. Looking back now, there are a million and a half better tattoo ideas that I could’ve chosen, but I picked a hand-drawn arrow to signify always moving forward. There was something so great about living in the moment that, at that point, it didn’t even matter what I choose. Words cannot describe how nervous I was. I brought my roommate – a tattoo veteran – with me, to hold my hand. As I sat in the chair, everything hit me all at once, and I realized how many things I had yet to experience.
The tattoo was so small that it took about two minutes to complete, but sitting in the chair was one of the best experiences. I was nervous, excited, scared, and giddy all at the same time, and I knew I wanted to experience the same flood of emotions over and over. Never had I stepped out of my comfort zone before. I hadn’t ever had so many emotions wash over me, and ever since then, I pushed myself to experience more things that made me just as nervous.
But that wasn’t all that I gained from getting a tattoo in college, either. I gained a mile marker – something that I can look at when times get rough and remember exactly how I felt in that moment. Every time I glance down it’s like time is standing still and I can still feel the joy I had jumping all around my dorm room in excitement. Memories might fade and Facebook posts get lost, but the ink will be with me forever.
I never in a million years thought that getting a tattoo would teach me anything about life – except maybe a bit of regret. In the end, it taught me that I need to go after what I want in life. Get the tattoo, talk to the hottie at the bar, say what’s on your mind, because college will end and after that the real world starts. It’s nice to have something to remind you of when life wasn’t all that bad.