I have wanted a tattoo for as long as I can remember. I’ve also known that I wouldn’t get one until I was 100% sure that I would not regret it, or regret it if you love misspelled tattoos as much as I do. I figured 50 is the age I can finally be allowed to make decisions for my life and know that most of my life is behind me so I won’t have to live with it that long, comparatively.
So I began to jot down ideas and find artists to make them come alive. Things that have meaning made the list. I decided my kids had to be represented, myself, my friends, and even my husband and writing were included. I conceptualized and scribbled to come up with something representative of my heart. Then the hard part. Where?
I ruled out any part of my body I couldn’t see. If I was going to go through the pain, I was going to see the gain. I was not interested in the Mike Tyson face tattoo, the cleavage adornment, or the knuckle prison tats. I wanted it to be seen when I chose it to be seen. I picked the top of my foot. Cute in heels and flip flops. Covered most of the time. Everyone warned me though that I was selecting the most painful part of my body to stick needles into.
I’ve had babies, how painful could a tattoo be? I’ve had fillings without freezing, could it be any worse than that? I’ve broken seven to ten bones in my body (yes, so many I can’t remember how many times small bones have been snapped.) Is it worse than that? The artists all believed it would be. They were all too young to birth children, but I didn’t think of that at the time.
I had already made the decision to go through with the tattoo despite the warnings. Bring it.
It was nothing like any of those other painful things. Actually, it was five minutes of discomfort out of fifteen minutes of work. It felt like I’d forgot a spot for sunscreen and burned the top of my foot. Maybe I should have added a beach umbrella to my new ink as a commemorative touch. This was precisely why I got my second tattoo in the same month and why I understand how they can be addictive. No matter how much meaning one image is, there is still more to say.
My second ink is the word, “Sisu” and I was joined by my aunt, and two cousins to get this done. Sisu is a Finnish word loosely translated to mean true determination and grit. Just when I patted myself on the back for that super thought-out dragonfly that I touted was fully representative of all that I hold dear, my family reminded me there is more.
Sisu does represent me. It defines my year of learning new things because I can tell you it takes a lot of Sisu to make this train move forward each week. It represents my bounce back from the pit of mental health hell. It defines how I navigated a childhood of feeling abandoned and alone despite being surrounded by support. And, I’m Finn and proud of it. I’ve Sisu’d my life already, and I don’t see that trend stopping any time soon.
What I learned this week was not at all about tattoos. It was about placing meaning and judgement. This week I learned how not one thing can define a life. Not how you live it, not who you surround yourself with, not what you do for a living or for fun. A life well lived has symbols of purpose and accomplishment all around. Mine may be a dragonfly and a word in Finn, but maybe I should not look at your R2D2 tat and think that is frivolous or without deep meaning. No one should. That little robot was pretty badass and likely you are too. It takes some pretty big Sisus to make a permanent statement on your body of who you are to yourself. And even bigger Sisus to live with that representation for the rest of your days even when the ink has faded and the meaning lost. Loving who you are enough to represent yourself and own it, is the real art.
My Turning 50 Like a Boss Tip: Own who you are and remember you are so much more than that!
Check out the video: Inking Bravely