My favorite things about my tattoos are their ability to spark a conversation and the fact that most people don’t expect me to have so many. In the past two years, I’ve designed and accumulated five, which all have special meanings and stories for me.
When I was 16, I somehow convinced my parents to let me get a tattoo. In California, it’s illegal to get one under 18, even with parental consent, so we drove four hours up to South Lake Tahoe in Nevada where I’d found Silver State Tattoo Company.
An ouroboros is an ancient Greek symbol of a snake eating its own tail, to represent the endless cycle of life and death. Mine is intertwined in the shape of a lotus flower, symbolizing inner peace. As I had just gone through a rough patch in my life, I wanted something to remind me that while things do happen, in the grand scheme of things, life moves on and it’s important to make your peace with what happens and learn from it.
Sweet Pea Flower
After studying abroad in France for a semester of my junior year, I wanted something to remind me of the amazing time I’d had with my friends there. Before I left, I was worried about leaving my life at home behind for five months, but as my time in France came to a close, I was even more upset about leaving the life I’d built over the past five months behind forever.
A sweet pea flower symbolizes departure and goodbyes, but also gratitude for the good times that have passed.
Six months after I came back home, I spent New Year’s Eve in San Antonio, Texas with one of my best friends I’d met while studying abroad. I’d gotten the “itch” for a new tattoo, and we spontaneously decided to get stick and poke tattoos.
The hexagon is the approximate shape of mainland France, and is often used as a casual synonym for France itself, “L’Hexagone.”
At the same time I got the hexagon, I decided to get a finger tattoo because I’d always loved how they were hidden; but I was worried about how they’d hold up if they were from a tattoo parlor.
While I don’t personally believe in astrology, I’d always liked the Taurus symbol itself.
Bird with flowers
My senior year, I took AP Lit, and one of the books we were required to read was The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Surprisingly, I actually found myself enjoying and resonating with it, especially the quote where one of the characters reminds another that, “The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings.”
In the book, birds are a symbol of following your own heart instead of what society dictates. I combined that with the symbolism of catbirds as quiet contemplation, cosmos flowers as love, lavender as youth and femininity, and alstroemeria as friendship and devotion for the tattoo I got for my 18th birthday.
While I know I’ll be getting more tattoos in the future, I’m also trying to slow down and make sure I plan out each well. With college, it’s hard to find time to be creative and sketch out future designs, but I know it’ll only be a matter of time before I end up with more.
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