see it

I have this tattoo on my arm…


I’d wanted a tattoo ever since I knew what they were. I love the idea of decorating your body. Whether it means something to you or not, it intrigues others— I like that. I got this first tattoo when I was 16; it took a lot of persuading on my part to get my parents to agree with it. Now, at 18, I have three tattoos and am about to get another. I plan on getting many more. With each one, my confidence level rises— so what more could I ask for?

But I want to talk about this tattoo specifically. As I said, I got it right after I turned 16. And if I remember correctly, it was a birthday present. It was the summer after freshman-year— the worst year I’ve ever had in school. Thinking about how bad it was, even now, upsets my stomach. At this point in my life I wasn’t doing very well. I was almost officially going to be taking online classes sophomore year and didn’t really know if I was ever going to get even remotely better. Deep down I had hope, and deciding on this tattoo proved that.

The semicolon is a symbol for mental illness. It’s saying that the story isn’t over yet— my mental illness isn’t the end of the road and that I still have a long way to go. I’d seen all over the internet how many people were getting a semicolon tattoo. I knew I wanted one too. But, me being me, I didn’t want to be the same as everyone else and just get a plain semicolon. I looked up a bunch of pictures of other tattoos and thought of some words with the letter “i”. It came down to two different words: inspire and warrior. I loved them both. I knew that I was a warrior. Hell, isn’t everyone a warrior in their own way? With everything that I had been going through, and knowing that I had just survived the worst year of my life yet, I was set on warrior.

When we showed up for the appointment, everyone was under the impression that I was simply going to get the word warrior, and the semicolon would replace the “i”. As I was sitting and waiting to get started I realized that I’d been ignoring a feeling in my gut. I’ve said multiple times that I usually decide things based off of feeling. I always go with what feels right. And I had thought I was so set on warrior that I ignored everything else.

I opened my phone and swiped back and forth between pictures of different tattoos. I looked at warrior and I looked at inspire. I thought about the two words and what they meant to me separately. On one hand, I knew that I was a warrior, I knew that I never gave up. But on the other hand… What did I want to spend the rest of my life doing? I wanted to take the things I’ve experienced and use them to help other people. I wanted to let people know that they weren’t alone. I wanted to be someone others could look to. I wanted to inspire.

So I changed my mind. Except I also decided that I didn’t want it to be so plain. I wanted to make it my own. I remembered seeing a watercolored tattoo— something completely different from what I wanted, but I liked the idea. I thought that I could put color behind the word and make it look like I was bleeding in a weird way. I told the artist my change of plans and he went back to see what he could come up with.

When he came back out and showed me, I didn’t even have to think; that was my tattoo. I chose the colors red, green, and yellow on the spot, for no particular reason other than I liked them.

I didn’t look at the tattoo until it was completely finished. I remember looking at it and feeling something shift within my soul. Looking back, I think that was the moment I knew what I needed to do.

My mom wanted me to get up and look at it in the mirror. While standing there I noticed something above the semicolon that I hadn’t before— birds. How did I not notice the birds when he put the template on, or even in the rough drawing? But how perfect is that? How could the message come across any clearer? To me, birds symbolize freedom, and that’s exactly how I wanted to feel after being so trapped inside my own head for so long.

From that point on, this tattoo has been a constant reminder of who I want to be, and what I plan to do. I haven’t had it easy since the tattoo, but that’s the entire point. Things aren’t meant to be easy, and I can’t do what I want to do without having things hard— no one can.

I write because I love it, and if I happen to inspire people in the process, that’s just more motivation. I know that I’ve been put through my own version of hell, multiple times, for a reason. I wasn’t given this mind, and this ability to put my thoughts into words in a way that makes people think, for no reason. If I were to ignore this strange force that pulls me towards crazy concepts, new ways of thinking, and believing The Universe is constantly teaching if you just shut up and let it breathe through you— I’d be willingly ignoring my destiny.

I’m not saying I know exactly what my destiny is; who does? Although, I do know how stupid it would be to ignore these obvious signs that are leading me in a specific direction. And if these signs aren’t ultimately hinting towards my destiny, what the hell are they even there for?

I believe we are all meant to do something. I think that everyone has the ability to be an inspiration for someone else. And I think that we all have a destiny. Not all of us fulfill our destiny, and that’s our own fault. The signs are there, it’s up to us to follow them.

This tattoo and the idea of it didn’t just come to me for no reason. It came with a purpose. It came with the mission of pushing me towards a different direction of thinking. Thankfully, I knew that, and I followed it. You have to know that signs don’t always come on a grand-scale. They won’t always show themselves on billboards, or through some magical dream. Most of the time they are going to come from small things. Things like a tattoo— something you see as being just a scar you’ll have for the rest of your life, ends up being a message that changes your life.

The best way I could explain how to be more aware of these weird signs, would be to simply tell you: change is good. If you learn how to accept change, these signs will be more easily visible. Be open to change, and be willing to change. That’s how we grow and how we learn. Change is what makes the world go round— good or bad.


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