The 17th of July is National Tattoo Day, so to celebrate I thought I’d put together a little post on my tattoos and the stories behind them. I’ve written about my experience getting my first tattoo as part of my 30 Before 30 series (which btw, I’m SMASHING…jks I’ve done sweet FA this year), but I wanted to share a bit more about why I chose them and the meanings behind each one. I’ve wanted a tattoo since a young age, but I was always just that little bit too scared. Then, in April last year, I took the plunge and booked myself in for my first one. Fast forward to July last year, and I went for another session to get two more. I’d love to get more done in the future too, but I can’t see that happening this year thanks to the old covid getting in the way of everything. Anyway, whether you’re a newbie looking for some tattoo ideas, or you just like learning about the meaning behind peoples’ tattoos, here’s today’s post on the stories behind each of mine.
The Cat & The Serotonin
When I first started looking at tattoo ideas, I knew I wanted to go for something that had meaning. While it’s perfectly fine to go for something purely for aesthetic reasons, I liked the idea of having a tattoo done that had a bit of a story behind it. Ultimately, I went for a combination of two ideas I really liked, a cat pawing at a heart, and the chemical symbol for serotonin, which I chose to have on my right ankle. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, the meaning behind these will be pretty obvious. I went for a cat because, obviously, I love them; and serotonin not just because it’s the “happy hormone” but because it played a huge part in my (sadly now a bit damaged – thanks covid) OCD recovery, in the form of the SSRIs I started taking back in 2016. I wasn’t particularly sure on the layout of how I wanted them, so I ended up just submitting the two images to the tattoo artist and said I was looking at combining them.
I had it in my head the layout I was expecting – the cat as more of the focus and pawing at the serotonin symbol – but when I turned up for my appointment he’d done a couple of options for me, and the option that I went for actually looked the best. Getting the tattoo done was a strange experience – I wasn’t really sure what to expect and my main concern was more that I’d faint or something rather than it hurting. Thankfully, neither happened. It felt more like a cat scratch than anything else and Ash, who was my tattoo artist was lovely and kept me calm through the whole thing.
The Tay-Tay Tribute
My second tattoo was an homage to my ultimate girl crush – Taylor Swift. If you’re a regular visitor to my blog you’ll know that I’m a committed Swiftie, and it will probably come as no surprise that one of my tattoos is related to her music. I knew pretty early on that if I got another tattoo it would be Tay-Tay related, and it took me a while to decide on the perfect one. Pinterest was full of Swiftie tattoo ideas, many of which were based on the break-up side of her music. So many Taylor Swift songs are meaningful to me, but none of the ideas I found seemed to be appropriate or relevant to me. I decided to strip things back and think about my favourite songs of hers – and the one that was top of the list was Shake It Off. It’s the song I listen to when I’m happy. It’s the song that reminds me of some of the best drunken nights I’ve had with Lillie. It’s positive, upbeat, and it’s all about not taking yourself too seriously and not letting the haters win. Plus, I think “shake it off” is an excellent message when it comes to dealing with intrusive thoughts. It’s how people without OCD deal with those random but dark thoughts of “you could jump off that bridge” or “you could walk out in front of that car.” People who don’t have OCD shake those thoughts off because they don’t mean anything. People with OCD will obsess and overthink those dark thoughts until they’re an anxious mess. I thought the idea of doing what everyone else does would be an excellent mantra.
I chose to get “shake it off” tattooed along the side of my foot. However, it wasn’t until Ash had the needle in his hand ready to get started that he told me the foot was the most painful tattoo location. He wasn’t wrong unfortunately. It hurt. While the pain wasn’t exactly unbearable, it wasn’t pleasant and I was pretty glad when it was over. Let’s just say if it’s your first tattoo, don’t go for the foot.
The Shell and the Dinglehopper
I got this tattoo at the same time as the “shake it off” one. The Little Mermaid is my favourite film and was a huge part of my childhood, so I knew I wanted to go for a tattoo related to it. Again, I spent a great deal of time going through tattoo ideas on Pinterest but a lot of the Little Mermaid ones were quite complex and detailed, and I wanted something simple. After a lot of searching, I decided to go for a seashell and the fork (aka the dinglehopper) on my wrist. It was subtle enough to not draw too much attention, but it would still be obvious that it was an homage to The Little Mermaid.
In terms of pain, I’d probably rank this one in the middle of my three tattoos. It didn’t hurt as much as the foot one, but it wasn’t quite as painless as the one on my ankle. As this one was done immediately after, in comparison the pain wasn’t too bad!
Ultimately, I love my tattoos and I’m so glad that I went through with each of them. The first one especially was something I’m proud of doing – I put aside my fears and I just went for it. I love how they look and every time I catch sight of them I feel a little bit better about myself. They make me feel confident for a change, which is something I’ve struggled with for years. I would love to get more in the future, and I have a few potential ideas in my mind already. When this shitshow is over I will certainly be booking my next appointment.
Do you have any tattoos? Is there a story behind them? Let me know in the comments!