Today is my twentieth birthday. I am no longer a teenager. Thank goodness?! I think about all my birthdays over the years and I remember some good ones and some bad ones. But I’m thankful that I have had so many!
Two years ago today, I got the words “I’m learning to be brave in my beautiful mistakes” tattooed across my upper back. These are song lyrics from P!nk’s song, “Crystal Ball.” Those words, this tattoo, means more to me than I can ever attempt to explain to people. That song was my anthem during my years of depression. Those lines in particular stuck out to me and I would play them over and over again. The idea of being brave appealed to me. Not only being brave enough to make mistakes, but being brave enough to admit to them, to facing the consequences of them, to being willing to make more mistakes later and learn from them all. The song was released in 2008. That also happened to be the year in which I made, what I believed at the time to be my biggest mistake. I was 16 years old and I felt like I was already failing at life. When I heard those words it was as though I was forgiven. I was able to forgive myself so therefore I believed that other people would be able to forgive me as well. The next two years leading up to me getting my tattoo I made more mistakes. I failed my math class in my sophomore year, which dropped my GPA significantly. To this day I still feel like that is the reason why I didn’t get accepted to NYU. A year later, I disappointed my dad for the first time in my life (at least on a major scale), which is something that I never wanted to do. I changed the way people saw me in a not so pleasant way and to be brutally honest, I disappointed myself too. And I wrote about it and posted it to facebook for the world to see and I titled it, “I’m learning to be brave in my beautiful mistakes.” And that is when I realized that I needed those words to stay with me forever somehow. I wanted them to be a part of me in a way that everyone could see them and try and get a better understanding of the person I was becoming. So mistake after mistake, I learned. And I grew. And I became the person that I am today.
So on November 16, 2010, my 18th birthday was upon me and I was stoked! I knew I would finally be able to have those words become a part of me permanently, so that even when I am old and gray and forget lyrics to songs from my youth, I will still have them with me. So I asked my older, already tattooed sister to take me to the tattoo parlor. And suddenly, there was a blizzard outside. No really, out of the blue it started snowing very hard and the wind was ridiculous, so naturally we took that as a sign. The universe knew I was considered an adult now and was trying to warn everyone! But we went to the tattoo place and she held my hand through the whole thing.
The location of my tattoo is important because when I’m feeling stressed or upset, I can feel the tension in my shoulders and back. When it feels as though “the weight of the world is on my shoulders” I just feel where the tattoo is on my back and I know that I will get through it. Some people wonder why I don’t put it in a place where I can easily see it. And that’s because I don’t need to see it all the time to know that it’s there. It’s in my heart. I can also cover it up or show it off when I need to which is indicative of my personality. When I want to open up, or show you something about myself, I will. But if I don’t want to, you won’t see it. Simple as that.
Many people ask me about the significance of my tattoo and the short answer is, “It just has a lot of meaning to me.” But for those who take the time to really get to know me and understand why I am the way that I am and delve into my past, they understand it. Maybe not to the full extent but enough not to question it.
So thank you to those who get it, or those who have tried to understand it. Thank you to those who appreciate regardless of whether or not you understand it.
Thank you to P!nk, for helping me in my darkest times and writing such beautiful words and inspiring such wonderful ideas in the world.
And thank you to everyone who has been a part of my life during the past twenty years! Good or bad, you’ve helped to shape who I am. Here’s to another twenty more!