Life lessons from tattoos

For most of my life, I’ve been told by older relatives that tattoos are of the Devil and everyone who gets them is going to Hell. I remember drawing on my arms and legs when I was little, imagining the day when my skin would be covered in beautiful works of art. I’ve always thought highly of tattoos as a way of expressing oneself, but tattoos have also taught me quite a bit about myself as a person.

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Tattoo on the calf of Craig Moseley.
Photo taken by Sydney Crawson.

At age 19, I have 3 tattoos, one of which takes up a large part of my thigh. Tattoos have become a huge part of my life. Obviously, tattoos are a huge commitment. Getting a tattoo is a lot like getting married: whatever you get, you’re stuck with it forever. Even if you want to get rid of it, there’s always going to be a little bit left behind. That’s what’s beautiful about tattoos, especially for our generation.

Recently, before I got the big gypsy tattoo on my thigh, my mom called me and said, “Now, Janie, I want you to really think about this — it’s going to be on your body forever.”

This got me thinking. This tattoo is going to be there forever, and maybe I’m too young to be making that kind of commitment. Then it occurred to me — when I was 17 years old I had to make up my mind about which college I was going to be spending ridiculous amounts of money on. I also had to decide what I wanted to major in and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong: I love Radford and I love writing; but having to decide what to do with my life at 17 was a bigger commitment than something on my skin. Tattoos are easily covered, but it’s pretty much impossible to change your career drastically after you’ve majored in one thing.

Let’s be real. If I’m 50 years old and paying for college tuition for my three kids and suddenly decide I’m tired of journalism and I want to be a geologist, there’s no way I’m going to be able to take a completely new path.

When someone tells me that getting a tattoo is a big commitment for someone my age, I can’t help but scoff a little bit — especially when it’s a much older adult saying that. I’m too young to decide on something superficial, but I’m old enough to decide on a career path?

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