I love tattoos. Ok, maybe not love, but I really like them.
They tell a story about you, at least that’s why I like them.
Nothing is permanent. Not my likes or my dislikes. Not my ideologies, my political stance. Not my opinions or my interests. Not my metabolism, nor my sun-spotless skin. Not even my commitments.
What means a lot to me now, might not mean so much to me soon. Maybe one day I’ll exchange my liberal ideologies for conservatism, my passion for change for security and comfort. I’ll value my retirement plan more than the social safety net. I’ll despise taxes more than social inequality. Maybe one day I won’t crave constant productivity. I won’t seek accomplishments. I won’t seek to break the status quo; just plain par will sound pretty good.
One day I’ll have crow’s feet and a head full of greys. My skin won’t be as elastic and things will start to sag. I’ll look at this old tattoo and think, “Gosh, I was so stupid” or “Ugh, how cliche” or “How could I have liked that?” Of course, that’s always been my biggest hesitation: the fear of, well, what if I don’t like it in the future?
Chances are I won’t! It’s 99% probable that what I like 10 years from now is not what I like today. The odds are stacked against me. Those are the facts. (Not really.) But that doesn’t mean that I won’t take actions today that my future self wouldn’t agree with. Should I not vote on an issue because my future self might regret it? Should I not act until I’ve assessed every single fact and figure out there? No. (I’m not advocating to live with utter disregard for the future, just advocating against analysis paralysis.) The point is to not take actions that will reek havoc on your future self. That is, not to do something that will ruin your life.
If I’m interested in a change, but I’m not sure that I will like it — note, there are MANY situations in life that resemble this, tattoos being probably the least impactful of them — it’s important to ask myself:
- Is this going to ruin my life? — No? Well, okay, checkbox #1 is marked.
- Is this a change that I can come back from? If I hate it, can I make a choice that will get me fairly close to where I was before I first made the change? — Note that answer.
- What is to be gained from my making this change? That is, can I learn something or gain something by going through this process? — That should always be a yes.
We are constantly changing. Just as our world is in flux, so are our minds, so are our bodies. Tattoos are a visible representation of where we’ve been and what are stories are. Sure, maybe I wouldn’t get the same ink today as I would 10 years ago or 5 years ago, but that doesn’t mean I would regret it. I would appreciate it as a reminder of where I was at the time. Just like a picture on a wall, only more personal and ever-present.
Now time to get that Made in Texas cattle stamp on my butt like I’ve always wanted.
An alternative title for this post: Dear Mom & Dad, I’m getting my first tattoo