WordThings Whys & Hows

5 Ways Tattoos Taught me to be my Quirky-Ass Self

February 24, 2020

My Tattoos Make Me, Me. what makes you, you?

My tattoos are so much a part of me that I forget sometimes that there was a time that I didn’t have them.

I actually can’t imagine it.

I got my first one when I was 18, in Montreal. It cost me 150$ and hurt like a Mofo.  

I won’t tell you what it is or where it resides. All you need to know is that it happened and that it was the beginning of a love affair that continues to this day (11 tattoos and counting), and forever into eternity.

The fact is, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t know I would one day have tattoos. I’m sure it existed but I can’t recall it. 

For as long as I can recollect, I have wanted tattoos on my body. 

But, it isn’t until now that I have begun to see the parallels between my self-expression through tattoos and my self-expression in general.

Getting, loving, and defending my tattoos has taught me a lot about owning who I am as a whole human. 

They have taught me to own my quirky.

In other words, they have taught me to own the parts of me that make me, me regardless of outside (or inner) influence. And, they have shown me that it is, in fact, my unique combination of quirky that makes me who I am. 

That makes me stand-out from the rest, that makes me authentically me, that distinguishes me from the rest of the world. 

They are what tells the whole story of who I am.

And, your quirks are what tell the story Of who YOU are. 

Whether it’s tattoos, eccentric hair colours (been there too), or an obsession with Life cereal, your quirks are how you tell the full story of who you are. 

And, whether you are writing content for your business or just living your life, owning your quirks is going to make you a fuller, happier human. 

Just like I have always viewed my love of tattoos as a way to show my personality, my story to anyone who cares enough to take a gander. Your quirks are what will paint a whole picture of your story to the world.

Does that mean everyone is going to jive with the quirky? Ummm, no. In fact, some people are just downright judgy. 

It’s ok. 

Not everybody agrees with the notion that my tattoos belong on my skin. But, there they be. A part of me. 

In a lot of ways, actually, they served as my quirkful armour as the rest of me caught up to the idea of confidently being who I am. 

I have learnt a lot on that journey and I want to share 5 ways my tattoos have taught me to Own the Quirky, so I can let shine a light on my quirky-ass self all day every day. Because that’s what I was for your quirky-ass self, dudette!

Judgments Are Reflections of the Judge, Not You 

As a bartender/waitress I would sometimes get people throwing lines like “You’re so pretty, why did you get those tattoos?”

a) Thanks?

b) *Eye Roll**Deep Breath**Server Smile* I’ve always loved tattoos, sir. So I got some of my own. Anything else?

Moments like this used to irk me beyond belief. “Who does this person think they are for thinking their opinion on the matter was worth stating?” This thought would be accompanied by a lot of inner UGHS and…honestly…self-consciousness. 

But, eventually, it dawned on me that the people who say things like this are never the people who really ask about them or me. They didn’t care why I got them, where I got them, how I feel about them. They care only about expressing their opinion.

Things like this are almost always said by people that don’t know a single thing about you, but, more importantly, don’t really care too. 

They have already made their judgments of the type of person you should be and expect you to meet up to those expectations. And, when you don’t…they feel entitled to let you know 🙂

This is a reflection of them…not you.

Owning your quirks is not about those people. And, these instances with my tattoos served as practice for all the times’ someone was…opposed…to my swearing, or my career in the restaurant industry…or my high-degree of sarcasm, or any other singular thing that combo-packs with the others to create the magical human you see before you today.

It is a matter of knowing how to register, process, and filter judgment. And, how to remain confident in the things that truly matter to you regardless. 

Use these interactions as a practice to not make their shit your shit. So, instead of “Well Stephen, I don’t really give a f*** what you think”, your reaction becomes one of understanding…or, at least of indifference.

No one can tell you how or who to be, but you.

Every Experience Adds to Your Story

I sincerely love every single tattoo I have ever gotten (no ragrets from this gal), but that love comes just as much from the art itself as it does with the memories associated with each one. And, I treasure each one of those memories big time.

So, when people ask “Aren’t you afraid you’ll regret them when you’re 80?” 

“No, Karen, I’m not.”

Why? Because all of my experiences and stories make me, me. 

There have definitely been moments in life that have left me feeling regretful, wishing I could go back and make a different choice, act a different way, say something kinder, be braver…but I have let go of that regret (working on it anyway).

In its place, I am harbouring compassion for myself, love for the adventure, and pride in who I’ve become. So don’t shy away from those regretful moments, dudette. 

Own them as the lessons and stories they are. 

And, then share that shit.

They are what makes you, your quirky-ass self. 

Embrace the Simplicity

Most of my tattoos mean something to me because of the memory associated with getting them. Other than that, for the most part, I just got them because I love the look of them. Yup, I said it. 

No, deep-hearted meaning or heartfelt story. Just a way for me to reflect the things that inspire me, the talent of the tattoo artists I’ve been lucky to be the canvas of, or…honestly…as a souvenir of an adventure I’m on (The one I got in Greece of a coffee mug about sums me up as a human).

My point? Your quirks don’t all have to be these heartfelt moments or life-changing sentimentalities. 

What makes you a whole human are the tiny things: your favourite cereal, your love of 90s grunge, your lucky t-shirt. 

These are the things that make those that know you, think of you. 

The way Mac & Cheese makes me think of Jenna Kutcher, San Pellegrino makes me think of Ashlyn Writes, and Dolly Parton makes me think of Erin May Henry.

Allow yourself to feel lighthearted in your quest to own your quirks and all the rest of ya. 

Stand Up for Your Identity

I remember one of my first restaurant gigs was working at a place (that shall not be named) that adopted a policy against their employees having any visible tattoos.

I have a sparrow with the words Carpe Diem on my foot (Dead Poet Society fan club member) and I remember…in the middle of summer…being asked to wear opaque tights to hide it. Ummmm no.

I’m not the “stick it to the man” type, but I simply refused to go along with a rule that forced me to hide something that was so much a part of what makes me, me. Instead, I wore a bandage around my foot.

I was technically following the rules but mostly wanted to make a point. As you can imagine…it looked ridiculous. But, a week of looking like I had a sprained ankle and the managers changed the policy.

You’re welcome future, tattooed staff members.

This instance is one of the first times I remember feeling so unwilling to bend on who I am. I have come a long way since then in my understanding that I do not have to defend myself to anyone but myself when it comes to being me. The more I get to know myself, the more I understand this. 

Whether it’s tattoos or an aggressive love for sequin barrettes, just do you dude and don’t let anyone stop you.

Be Your Quirky-Ass Self Every day

It is so easy to lose sight of the things that make us who we are when we are in a constant state of consumption and creation.

Tip: Write a list.

Maybe even, ask your friends what they think of when they think of you. 

And, when you feel yourself getting pulled into the vortex of being like someone or everyone else, go back to it.

Things that make me, me:

  • My tattoos
  • French Canadian gal.
  • Equal amounts obsessed with cheesy action flicks and Audrey Hepburn movies.
  • I use words like rad, dudette, stoked.
  • Swear words and sarcasm make me happy.
  • My wardrobe consists almost exclusively of band tees, yoga wear, and plaid. 
  • I love wearing colourful glasses.
  • I collect books + espresso mugs when I travel.
  • If the book has a wizard in it, you can bet I’ll read it.
  • You’ll find me in bed by 730 pm reading most nights.
  • I live for the “Why Not” moments.
  • Coffee + Stephanie = Love

So on, and so forth. These are the things that combo-pack to make me, me.

And, your quirks make you, you.

So, let them seep into all that you do. Whether it’s your copy, your business, or your life.

Because your quirks are what make life fun.

So, be your quirky-ass-self all day every day.

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