Then I got my nose pierced. Well, that upset my parents so much that my Mom did not speak to me for several weeks (we talk often - many times a week if not daily). She even wrote me a letter. I didn't wear it home out of respect, and then while visiting family once, the little thing I used to keep it from closing fell out and it healed over within a day. This was before the time of all the facial piercings that are fairly common now, so it was a pretty big deal that I had it. But, I loved my nose ring. My nose is perfect for it, and I was complemented on it often. But, it fell out the summer before I went to grad school, and I didn't re-pierce it because I was worried what people might think of me. I regret that.
I avoided getting more tattoos because I've always been worried about what people think of me. In high school, a boy told me I was 'too stout' (I was not heavy at all), and while I didn't really like him, his words were hurtful. You can't unhear words like that no matter how unimportant or dumb they may be. And, in general I'm a people pleaser and I dislike conflict or disappointing people which makes me pretty sensitive to what people think.
However, since having kids (daughters especially), I realize how important it is to be a woman who shows her children that it's important to be strong and confident, that it's not important what others think, and it's important to live your life in a positive way. And, while you need to be very thoughtful about your choices, you shouldn't do (or not do) something because you're worried what others think (there are certainly exceptions - for example, you probably shouldn't tattoo your face because your life may become extremely difficult because you probably won't get that job you always wanted as a weather man. Just sayin'.).
I gained a different kind of strength and confidence when I became a Mom. I realized that there is absolutely nothing more important than my kids, and as long as I'm doing what's best for them (I could write a whole post about what this means) I don't really care about the rest. I constantly question how my choices will affect my kids - and that's for everything from small things like going out of town for a few days to bigger things like quitting my job or getting a tattoo.
So, a few years ago, I tattooed my foot. I'd wanted to do that for a long time, and I finally did it. I got 5 stars and I love them. I'd always been thinking about something on my wrist, and I couldn't figure it out. I'd always wanted some kind of elephant or mammoth, but I couldn't figure it out. Then, one day, it hit me. I researched and collected images, etc., eventually consulted the artist I mentioned above, and the rest is history.
I've heard what many people have said about what they think of tattoos, and I know some people are probably saying those things about me right now. And, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't stressing a little about what people might think about me. But, in the end, I'm the same person. I have 2 Master degrees, I volunteer at a museum and my kids' school. I manage a household of 5. I quilt and sew. I run (or, at least I try!). I read. I have my own business. My kids are my absolute priority. So, does a tattoo really change any of that? No, but I do know that it will give some people more to gossip about. I just hope they have fun talking about me.
Fifteen years ago my cousin died unexpectedly at 33 years old. Our families are very close, and it was devastating. And as I've grown older I've known people who have lost their lives too soon. Life is short and can be taken away from us at any moment. I want to live my life in a way that I do my best to not have any regrets. I know if something unexpected happened to me one thing I would regret is not getting my tattoos. And, if someone has a problem with that, that's their problem.
I got my tattoo for me. It's the mammoth from the University of Nebraska, and I personalized it a little. Paleontology is my first love - I knew as a young child that's what I wanted to do. I grew up in Nebraska, but it's also where, in college, people took me in, guided me, encouraged me and gave me opportunities that allowed me to fulfill my dream. It's where I found confidence in myself that I didn't know I had. It's part of the very core of me and something that has always made me very joyful. Though it's always been there, it's now just a little more visible part of me. And that makes me happy.