My Strange Relationship to my Tattoo

And what it taught me about decision making

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When I was 18 I made the questionable decision to get a tattoo on a whim. I quickly browsed the examples on the wall and chose a bright little shamrock. I felt secure in my choice and wanted it on my lower back, perfect to hide from my parents but easily displayed at my discretion. The lumbering tattoo artist said, no way. Lower back is too painful. And I listened. Stupid girl.

That shamrock landed on my upper thigh. I was never really happy about watching the way it stretched and twisted as I lounged on the beach. It was never the alluring picture I saw in my mind. If you aren’t thrilled with your thigh tattoo at 18, 44 is going to be tough. These thighs have held the weight of two pregnancies and bear stretch marks as a souvenir. Oh, and there is the added benefit of standing in a bathing suit at the swim club while every waist-high child studies your bikini line. Fun.

So no big deal get it removed, right? Wrong. I have been getting laser tattoo removal for the last year. I am $1,200 into getting a $35 tattoo removed. It is painful and expensive and frustrating. I had to stop asking how many more appointments until it is totally gone. There is no way to know. At this point I would describe it as a green smudge. And I am learning to love it.

I wish the 18 year-old version of me knew to ask for exactly what I wanted. Maybe I would be happy with that tattoo today and maybe not. But it would have been my own decision.

What does the green smudge teach me about life? I am not perfect. This girl makes mistakes and works to correct them. Sometimes I veer off my path and need to correct. Yielding your decision making power to others does not work. But imposing your will and demanding your needs be met is not a solution. The balance is somewhere in the middle. Becoming a whole person requires a combination of the self-assurance to be mentored when required and the confidence to follow your intuition when necessary.

When I look down at my green smudge now, I just smile. I am a work in progress and always will be.

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