I made a dumb decision when I was fourteen years old. I've made plenty more since then, don't get me wrong, but I mean god this one was one of the dumbest of the dumb: I got a tattoo. A little one on my ankle that even today I really do like. Needless to say, it didn't go over very well with my family. Deciding not to wait until I was an adult has now cost me years of criticism and has been the ammo in my family's metaphorical guns ever since then. Now, let's delve into the details, shall we?
I was fourteen years old, struggling with massive amounts of anxiety and depression, not thinking clearly at all, hurting myself, hurting others, and because of all that, sometimes I was, what one would call, a bitch. That wasn't how I liked being perceived and it wasn't the way I wanted to act but I just couldn't get myself together at the time. I was the black sheep. I didn't look like everyone else or act like everyone else or agree with everyone else's opinions. And it was then that with my mind in a state of constant duress, I decided to get a tattoo. Based on my actions leading up to this point it was clear that my mind wasn't focused on the consequences of my actions, it was focused solely on the present moment and what I selfishly wanted to do in that moment. I know now that healthy living requires a happy medium, or general balance, between the two, however, I digress. After getting this tattoo (which is a black ink semi colon located on my inner right ankle) I felt pretty awesome. It had a meaning to me, it was simple but elegant, and I was satisfied.
Now that the events surrounding the tattooing incident have been explained a little bit, I'd like to fast forward to when my parents discovered it was an actual tattoo and not just a sharpie drawing I had been repeatedly sketching onto my leg. They were livid. There were tears and screaming and endless looks of disappointment and shame. But I was the black sheep. Or at least, I thought I was. Looking back on this I can understand my parents point of view, confused and angry and upset at me for acting out because they didn't understand why I was doing the things that I was and unfortunately, it's unlikely that they ever will.
Religiously, my parents raised us in a faith that has labeled tattoos as disfigurement of our bodies and mistreatment of them. I do not hold any arguments against this, and I understand that viewpoint even today. I have not gotten any more since that time and do not plan to do so again in my life, not because of the judgments of others but because of the understanding that I gained as I grew. I don't want any more of them because of the faith that I have made the choice to live by, not because of pressure from family, friends and strangers alike.
At this point in my life, I have come so far from where I used to be, though I still have a long ways to go. I am proud of the person that I am, but I still have to figure out how to move forward when the past is permanently visible for all to see. I have to learn how to accept my mistake and continue instead of letting mistaken judgments shake me. I have to learn how to be unwavering even when everyone around me is not. It's hard being the black sheep. Though that title means something different to me now than it did before.
I don't want my younger siblings to look at the tattoo and aspire to be like that - one of them has already stated this to be the case - I want to be looked up to as I am now. Strong and sure, capable of hard things, hard working and kind, and most of all I hope, good. I do not feel right about having the tattoo removed or hidden. It's a symbol to me of constantly working to become better, while still being satisfied with who you are. It's a reminder to me of everything that once was, and everything I know now. I am facing pressure on all sides to have it removed or covered up but I refuse to refute my gut feeling.
Finally, I want to make it known that I am not endorsing underage tattoos, nor am I claiming that I regret having it done. I'm a huge believer that everything happens for a reason and that everything I have done and everything that has happened to me has made me into exactly who I am supposed to be, and I wouldn't trade that for the world.
© 2018 Isabella Allred