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As a child, I thought tattoos were scary. I was (and still am) afraid of needles, as well as the sight of my own blood. My highly traditional parents ingrained into my brain that I could never have a tattoo because people with tattoos were "bad," "scary," or "trouble-makers," and of course as a child you have to agree. You begin to judge people based on what your parents have taught you until you eventually begin to grow into your own mindset.
During my high school years, I started seeing tattoos differently. The quote, "Never judge a book by it's cover," really spoke to me. Tattoos weren't something to be judged against. They were artistic expressions. They told stories. They were conversation starters. They were little reminders. They were memories of loved ones. They meant something intimate and special to whoever decided to get one. More and more artists were coming up with different designs and styles. It was amazing to see what someone could get inked onto their skin. To be completely honest, I was obsessed with watching those tattoo shows/competitions on tv and every time I would watch I would hear my mom in the background talking about how "bad" tattoos were and to vow to never get one (sorry, not sorry mom).
Around 17-18 years old I was so certain that I wanted my first tattoo to be a red rose because it was my favourite flower. It represented beauty, simplicity, elegance, love, strength, perseverance...but around that time a lot of people were getting rose tattoos and I didn't want to seem like I was jumping on the bandwagon or following the norm, so I didn't end up getting one.
Fast forward to two years later and I had a couple of ideas in my mind, but one of them stood out the most. One word. "Stronger." A constant, small, humbling reminder on my collarbone. When I gathered up the courage (and money) to get it done I was incredibly nervous and expecting the worst, but at the end of it I couldn't have been happier! The best way I can describe the feeling of getting a tattoo is a cat scratching you with just one claw... sometimes the claw digs a little deeper into your skin and instead of feeling uncomfortable it actually hurts, but most of the time it just feels a little irritating and your skin feels hot.
Whenever I look at my tattoo, I'm reminded of all of the things I've encountered and endured in my short but sweet 24 years of life. I remember my darkest lows where I almost gave up on life, and then I remember how gratifying all of the highs felt when I finally got there. I remember the times I hated my life and I would cry in so much pain asking God why he gave me the cards I was dealt. I remember the times I would cry tears of joy thanking God for the blessings he gave me in disguise. I remember the times I felt alone, afraid, and alienated as well as the times I felt so surrounded by love and encouragement. I remember all the mean, spiteful, and hateful words people have called me and described me as. I remember hating myself and hurting myself. I remember regretting all the terrible decisions I've made, promising myself to be better because I deserved it. I remember giving too much of myself to everyone to the point that I was walked all over. I remember closing myself off from the world and allowing myself to feel numb. I remember the fear from having my first panic attack, to learning and knowing the signs of when one's about to start, to learning how to deal with them and cope afterwards. I remember the people in my life who have helped to shape and mould me into the person I am and the person I'm becoming.
Life is and always will be an uphill climb, and sometimes it's even an uphill battle, but as each day passes by you learn, you grow, and you become stronger than the person you were yesterday. This tattoo also reminds me to be mindful of others and what they could be going through. We can't tell what their battles and struggles are from the outside. The happiest of people can be hurting, they just hide it with a smile. Little gestures of kindness can and do make a difference.
This is just the beginning of my tattoo journey! I'm not sure what tattoo I'll get next but whoever said, "once you get one tattoo, you'll be itching for another one" was right!