10 Beautiful Tattoos With Amazing Stories Behind Them

10 Beautiful Tattoos With Amazing Stories Behind Them

Every tattoo tells a story –– a story that is personal and uniquely your own, but also one that allows all of us to connect on a deeper human level.

Tattoos are one of the most personal forms of self-expression. Your ink becomes a permanent part of who you are and reveals your true inner self. People get tattoos for all kinds of reasons –– to commemorate a lost loved one, to express their personal values, to honor an obstacle they have overcome, and sometimes because it just felt right. For many people, their body art has immeasurable sentimental value that brings them happiness, security, and inner peace.

Every tattoo tells a story –– a story that is personal and uniquely your own, but also one that allows all of us to connect on a deeper human level. Everyone has their own reasons for why they chose to get a tattoo when they did, why they picked the specific design that they did, and what it symbolizes or means to them. Below, you’ll find ten tattoos with ten amazing stories behind them, all from very real, raw, beautiful humans.

1. One With The Ocean

(Photo courtesy of Alanna Hogan)

“When it comes to tattoos, I love simplicity. I have a drawing of three simple waves on my back, just below my neck. The waves and the ocean have always been an important part of my life - I grew up on the coast and have known the water intimately since birth. (I mean that literally, as I was held in a pool of water by my dad immediately after being born.) The coast is a home to me, a place where my worries shrink and my thoughts quiet. I love that there is an infinite beauty about the sea, but also a sense of wild, an expanse that will never be tamed. And waves are such a perfect representation of the ups and downs of life, of the current that carries on no matter what. The ocean will always be a part of who I am, and so I carry its depths on my back.”

2. Like The Lotus

(Photo courtesy of Tanisha Mcgreevy)

“My tattoo is a lotus flower with a Japanese enso around it. The enso is a symbol of strength and elegance and the lotus flower represents the beauty of it as it arises from the muddy waters, untouched and [un]damaged from the mud around it. The words say "live unsoiled by the world" -- it is part of a Buddha quote that expresses how we should all live like the lotus flower, that no matter what we come across in life we should not let it affect or change the beauty we have inside and out. I designed this [tattoo] myself as a reminder to go through life with strength and elegance, and untainted by whatever I may go through.”

3. "When God Gives You Wings"

(Photo courtesy of Emily Crockett)

(One night, while she was studying abroad in Italy, Emily was raped by a local man. She has since started a successful, moving blog to empower rape victims, and document her road to recovery.)

“Until the day I die, I will never regret the bird that is on my arm. It reminds me not of where I was, but of where I’m going. The bird does have that night encapsulated into its design, but it symbolizes my strength and my independence, both of which felt lost after everything happened. The bird is hope rising from the ashes. The bird is Jenny whispering “dear God, please make me a bird so I can fly far away. Far, far away from here” -- a prayer very similar to my own that night. The bird is freedom and healing and hope. I could’ve never known when I named my blog many moons ago how poignant the name would become. God has given me the wings to fly from my situation, always in a different way, whether it be good friends, or stimulating conversation, or exciting events; each of them has allowed [me] to fly just a little bit further. The bird represents the guardian angels I have around me, the feathers they leave to remind me that they’re there. The bird is my voice, the healing I’ve found through music, but also through my blog.”

To learn more about Emily's journey, visit her amazing blog: When God Gives You Wings

4. Guidance From The Mountains

(Photo courtesy of AJ Blum)

“The compass rose provides guidance and serves as a reminder to be true to myself. My first hike in New Hampshire was up Mount Washington. To this day I remember that hike so vividly -- it opened me to a world of exploring and adventures. The summit of Mount Washington in the middle [of the compass] reminds me of the White Mountains, where my adventures began. The compass reminds me to stay true to myself so as not to lose myself on the journeys through life, in both the physical world as well as the spiritual world.”

5. A Constellation Guardian

(Photo courtesy of Meredith Clarke)

“I had always wanted a tattoo, but never really knew what to get. One day after my second week at college, my roommate told me she was going into Portsmouth to watch her friend get a tat, and invited me to come. Somewhere in between the invite and me changing my shirt, I decided I was going to get a tattoo. I thought about it the whole bus ride there and I decided get one behind my ear. I was scrolling through pictures when I saw a picture of a Big Dipper tattoo my cousin had sent me. Immediately my anxiety melted away. About an hour later, I had my first tattoo.

A lot of people think it’s pretty unorthodox to get a tattoo so spontaneously and pick the design an hour before. Most people tell me that if they get one they have to absolutely love the design and they need to want it for over a year. I disagree. The Big Dipper never meant anything to me. I was always into the stars, but nothing particular about Ursa Major ever caught my eye. But now when I look up into the sky and see the Big Dipper, I feel like I’m safe - like I have a little friend –– someone or something watching over me. Whenever I walk to crew practice in the wee hours of the morning, I look up into the sky and always say hi. And now my friends see the Big Dipper at night and think of me, which is a pretty cool feeling. For me, I didn’t need my tattoo to be something significant that I would never forget, I don’t need a tattoo to remind me of something I’ll never forget, I need a tattoo to remind of something I will forget, which is to be spontaneous and free. Whenever I feel stressed out, I look at my tattoo and think of the time I decided to permanently ink my body on a whim. And I’ll remember that I’ll always have something watching out for me in the sky.”

6. A Symbol Of Change And Optimism

(Photo courtesy of Katie Beauregard)

“Two years ago I woke up and made one of the most permanent changes to my body––I hadn’t planned it, I didn’t tell my parents and I went to the first parlor that would take me that day. This decision took all of my money, set my back on fire and was simultaneously a form of therapy I never knew existed. Two years ago I broke up with the “love of my life.” After I realized this love had turned to comfort, and lust turned to confusion, I made what I thought would be the most devastating decision of my life––looking back now, it wasn’t. Although I may not have fully planned my first tattoo, or consulted my bank account, this extremely permanent fixture on my body showed me that I could emotionally, mentally and even physically make changes in my life––and be totally okay in the end. Two years have passed since I got my first unplanned, poorly financed tattoo and I have absolutely no regrets about my decision––I accepted the events that were surrounding me at such a transitional time in my 20-year-old life. That day, I decided to make, embrace and not run from change, I decided to “think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”

7. Overcome And Appreciate Challenges

(Photo courtesy of Amanda Schwartz)

“I’ve always loved a challenge and within the past few years I’ve become extremely fond of hiking. I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs in my life and mountains are symbolic to me in the way that they are similar to daily challenges. Our lows make us appreciate the highs that much more. So my tattoo is of mountains…I got it on my wrist as a daily reminder that with every mountain you face, you are one step closer to conquering the world. So keep climbing and keep exploring. Accept challenges, for they are just another mountain for you to defeat.”

8. A Tiki Self Portrait

(Photo courtesy of Jordan Judd)

“The tiki face on my left triceps is a symbolic self portrait of my Tourette’s. Each element represents a different facial tic that I have to consciously suppress on a second to second basis. It represents a side of myself that no one sees because I keep it so hidden. It is the crawling under my skin itching to be released.”

9. An Elephant With An Important Lesson

(Photo courtesy of Shalyn Texeira)

“Elephants have the spiritual meaning of being good luck when their trunks are up. The Ying Yang symbol signifies that with all the good there is some bad, and with all the bad there is always some good; but it’s inside the elephant to signify that even when you’re life is good or bad, you’re still lucky to be here.”

10. Some Fatherly Advice

(Photo courtesy of Scott Ruggles)

“This tattoo is a quote from John Lennon. When our family was in the middle of a very tumultuous time that challenged me to the core, my father and I went for a drive. We talked and talked; I was very emotional because my own family (which included 5 kids) was being devastated [by what was going on]. My dad said, "Scott, Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans."

Cover Image Credit: AJ Blum

Popular Right Now

I Blame My Dad For My High Expectations

Dad, it's all your fault.

I always tell my dad that no matter who I date, he's always my number one guy. Sometimes I say it as more of a routine thing. However, the meaning behind it is all too real. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my one true love, and it's going to be hard to find someone who can top him.

My dad loves me when I am difficult. He knows how to keep the perfect distance on the days when I'm in a mood, how to hold me on the days that are tough, and how to stand by me on the days that are good.

He listens to me rant for hours over people, my days at school, or the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' I watched that night and never once loses interest.

He picks on me about my hair, outfit, shoes, and everything else after spending hours to get ready only to end by telling me, “You look good." And I know he means it.

He holds the door for me, carries my bags for me, and always buys my food. He goes out of his way to make me smile when he sees that I'm upset. He calls me randomly during the day to see how I'm doing and how my day is going and drops everything to answer the phone when I call.

When it comes to other people, my dad has a heart of gold. He will do anything for anyone, even his worst enemy. He will smile at strangers and compliment people he barely knows. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, even if it means going way out of his way, and he will always put himself last.

My dad also knows when to give tough love. He knows how to make me respect him without having to ask for it or enforce it. He knows how to make me want to be a better person just to make him proud. He has molded me into who I am today without ever pushing me too hard. He knew the exact times I needed to be reminded who I was.

Dad, you have my respect, trust, but most of all my heart. You have impacted my life most of all, and for that, I can never repay you. Without you, I wouldn't know what I to look for when I finally begin to search for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it might take some time to find someone who measures up to you.

To my future husband, I'm sorry. You have some huge shoes to fill, and most of all, I hope you can cook.

Cover Image Credit: Logan Photography

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Short Stories On Odyssey: Roses

What's worth more than red roses?


Five years old and a bouquet of roses rested in her hands. The audience-- clapped away her performance, giving her a standing ovation. She's smiling then because everything made sense, her happiness as bright as the roses she held in her hands.

Fifteen now, and a pile of papers rested on her desk. The teachers all smiled when she walked down the aisle and gave them her presentation. She was content then but oh so stressed, but her parents happy she had an A as a grade, not red on her chest.

Eighteen now and a trail of tears followed her to the door. Partying, and doing some wild things, she just didn't know who she was. She's crying now, doesn't know anymore, slamming her fists into walls, pricking her fingers on roses' thorns.

Twenty-one and a bundle of bills were grasped in her hands. All the men-- clapped and roared as she sold her soul, to the pole, for a dance. She's frowning now because everything went wrong, but she has to stay strong, for rich green money, is worth more than red roses.

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