5 Tips To Choose A Tattoo You Won't Regret

5 Tips To Choose A Tattoo You Won't Regret

A scar full of ink is a scar full of promise.

At 16 years old I was anxious, naive and exhausted. The beginning of my junior year in high school was nothing short of difficult. I was overwhelmed with advanced courses, I lost some old friends and found myself falling into a new group, I began experiencing difficulties at home, and my anxiety became more persistent than ever. I was a little bit of a mess, but despite the everyday setbacks, I allowed myself to find peace and comfort in reading and writing. It was easy to make myself feel better if I had a pen and paper at hand.

I was scrolling through quotes on Pinterest one day when I ran across three short words that made my breathing a little lighter – a little easier to manage. “Courage, dear heart” was scratched across an image in a messy cursive font. It’s a quote from "The Voyage of The Dawn Treader," written by C.S. Lewis.

Within the last two years, I have managed to control the intensity of my anxiety and manage my stress accordingly. I have let go of issues that I ultimately have no control over; I have learned to accept that the people in my life are different in their own individual ways, and I must accept that to hold on to those I love the most. I’ve established myself in the most genuine, loving group of friends that I have had and will ever have. I have worked hard to give myself a life I love. I have repeated the phrase “Courage, dear heart” every day for the last two years.

I was always hesitant about getting a tattoo. I was worried that it was going to hurt. I was afraid I would regret my decision after the needle had touched my skin. I was nervous that when I grow older I’d look at my tattoo and wish I had never gotten one. After two years of finding solace in three little words, I decided that no matter the pain, no matter my age, getting this tattoo was important to me. It holds great meaning that I will continuously cherish no matter what my future holds.

The beauty of being a writer is words have more of a monumental impact on my thoughts than people or possessions ever will. There’s a certain beauty in words – the way a strand of arranged letters can make you feel emotions you didn’t think you had.

Here are five important tips for choosing your own tasteful tattoo:

1. Location, location, location.

Get a tattoo somewhere where you won’t forget about it. There are two types of tattoos, bold and dainty, and each kind fits on parts of your body better than others. Keep in mind that some occupations don’t approve of showcasing tattoos, so you may need to get one in a spot that would be easy to cover by clothing. Don’t let that stop you from getting one, though. Choose your location accordingly – it’s all personal preference, of course.

2. Personal meaning.

What does your tattoo mean to you? Why did you choose to place it in the location that you did? If you cannot provide answers to either of these questions, odds are you weren’t ready to get or are not comfortable with your tattoo. Take the time to let it mean something to you – that’s when it’s really worth the money.

3. Choose something original.

“Katy wouldn’t be Katy without ____.” The answer is writing. I’m a writer, I take pride in it, and because of this, I easily find solace in words. I didn’t get “Courage, dear heart” permanently etched into my skin because I think it looks cool. I got this tattoo because I can call it my own. It resonates within me and I have grown fond of this short, sweet phrase. It’s my daily reminder to chase a life I will love without hesitation of fear.

4. If you think you’ll get tired of looking at it one day, don’t get it.

Tattoos are so permanent – why choose something you’re not entirely sure of? I’ve heard that tattoo removal is more painful than getting an actual tattoo, so don’t put yourself through that if you can avoid it.

5. If it’s the right tattoo, you won’t be concerned about the pain.

It’s really not that bad. I’ll admit, I was pretty nervous at first because I lacked knowledge of my own pain tolerance (I’ve never been one to play rough.) It wasn’t bad at all, though, especially if you bring a friend to talk to.

Cover Image Credit: Camille LaRocca

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6 Things You Hear When You Move To America From Another Country As A POC

My mom is from the Philippines, I'm from Michigan.

I grew up the same as everyone else I’d say. I spent my evenings at the park playing with the neighborhood kids, I went to kindergarten and ate a bunch of snacks, ran after the ice cream truck numerous times, and learned to count to 7. The only difference that seems to make a significant impact on how others see me is that I grew up in a different country and am also a different race. Is it really that big of a difference though?

I was raised in a military family, so we were constantly moving from base to base, state to state, and country to country. I was born In North Carolina, my sister was born in Alabama, but we were raised in Japan for the majority of our early years. My mother would take us on mini vacations to the Philippines to visit her family quite frequently as well. So over the years we were most definitely exposed to several traditions, cultures, and more. To this day we still celebrate these traditions and our lifestyle can be a tad bit different than the average American. However, are we so different from everyone else that it gives people the right to make assumptions based on my race? No. No one deserves the basic stereotypes and racial comments regardless of who they are or where they’re from.

When you get into the nitty gritty of things in finding the differences between someone raised in America and another country there’s not a lot. Sure, there’s a slight language barrier sometimes, but is that any different? Sometimes we have more traditions to celebrate and handle things slightly differently as well, but when it comes down to it, we don’t have too many differences between us. Hell, I grew up in Japan and the biggest change I noticed when I moved to Michigan wasn’t the people- but rather how many damn trees are here.

As if growing up in another country isn’t enough, I am also Filipino and African American. A lot of people cut pretty quick to the chase in making assumptions when they see you’re from another country. However, once they see you’re a different race that’s not white AND you grew up somewhere else it’s basically a whole new ball park that’s full of questions and slightly offensive remarks. These assumptions are generally stereotypical and sometimes can come off as borderline racist (depending on how you phrase it). If you were born/raised in another country and found yourself moving to the country we know as the land of the “free”, or if you’re an ethnicity that’s not the “American Norm”, then you have definitely heard some of these questions/statements at least once or twice in your lifetime.

1. Where were you born? No, like where are you from? …where are you really from?

Well I spent the last 13 years here in Michigan, but I was born in North Carolina. But if you really wanted to know, yes, I’m half Filipino. Yes, I’ve lived there. Happy?

Almost everyone, regardless of their race, gets that question handed to them and it’s annoying enough to make your eyes roll out your skull.

2. What are you?

Human? What kind of question is that? Do I look like a breed of a dog or a vegetable to you? Just ask me what my race is, at this point I’m used to hearing that question so it wouldn’t bother me. Flat out asking what am I is a little more offensive than anything.

3. Basic racial remarks.

“Do you see as much as I do with your eyes that squinty?”

“Does your mom cook orange chicken really well?”

“Why are you so tall if you’re Asian, aren’t they usually shorter? Oh, that’s right, you’re also half black! That’s why you’re 5’4” instead of 5’0”!”

“You don’t have a stutter, that’s just your accent coming back to you I bet.”

Don’t even get me started on how many people have pulled their eyes back and said “ching chong ching,” to me and made fun of me with a fake Chinese accent. I’m not even Chinese.

4. Do you know how to speak their language? Can you say a sentence?

I know just as much tagalog as you know Spanish. All swear words and how they are. No, I will not say them either.

5. Common stereotypes.

These kinds of people just jump to conclusions and base their knowledge off television shows or the internet. There’s really no filter on them either, so they kind of just fire it at you.

“I bet you can do math really well, but watch out for her on the roads! She’s probably an awful driver!” Add the fact that I’m a woman on there too, that stereotype never ends.

No, I can’t do karate. No, I can’t do jiu-jitsu. I can barely touch my toes, let alone throw a solid kick.

6. How do you pronounce your name?

There are two types of people that ask this question: ones who say it in the most Americanized way possible, and then those who try to add an unnecessary obvious accent to it. Either they find new syllables and vowels in your name that you never saw, or it’s a giant slaughter altogether. Regardless, at least they asked right? They’re still going to pronounce your name wrong…but they still asked.

As much as I can go on this topic forever, the point I’m trying to get to is to please watch what you say. POC shouldn’t be used to hearing remarks like these. The things listed here are directed mainly towards the Eurasia side, this doesn’t cover what our buddies from other countries and continents endure. We are all human in every way possible. We may have different traditions and cultures, but we do not barge into your life and ask you irrelevant questions. If anything ask us in depth questions, not the simple black and white ones.

Cover Image Credit: Max Pixel

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I'm Bi And Dating Straight For The First Time Ever

And sometimes it feels weird. In a good way, though.

There’s a time in almost every bisexual’s life when the implications of actually being bi slam against them.

It’s usually the moment when you have to make two profiles on a dating app because it only lets you pick one gender. Or, typically if you’re a woman, all the worst threesome-seeking couples within the tristate area glom onto you like a starved barnacle on a 15th-century Spanish galleon.

For me, it was a Lyft ride. I was on my way home from a Tinder date.

The driver was friendly enough. She was middle-aged and built of soft, sweeping curves. Her car smelled like peppermint and a hand-sewn and very pink Christmas sweater clung to her shoulders. If she wasn’t a grandmother yet, she was already well-prepared for it.

Naturally, we chatted. She asked me what I had been up to. “Just got back from a date.”

“Oh, what was she like?”

I fired back the basics: she was a biochemistry major at Oregon State University, we had a lot in common, had a great time.

There were things I didn’t share: we’d hit it off so well that we’d missed out on plans to see the new Blade Runner and I’d ended up staying the night. That my date had soft, brown eyes with an understating gravity, strong enough that you barely realized she was wearing glasses. But the basic point was relayed.

It hit me as we pulled up to my place. Not once, in describing the idea that I had had a date, did I have to disguise the pronoun of my date to hide her gender.

Later, when I had a second date with Eve, and when we eventually decided to make things official and date for good, the culture shock echoed further: I was in my first-ever straight relationship.

Eve wasn’t the first woman I’d ever dated. However, she was the first woman I’d dated since transitioning to male.

My first relationship started in the 8th grade. I was out as bisexual to a handful of friends and relatives. She was an out-and-proud lesbian. We would stay together for three years, eventually ending up long distance after my family packed up and moved across the country.

Like the best of lesbians, she’d introduced me to the finer points of vegetarian cuisine and we’d write shitty fiction together, my fiction considerably shittier than hers. We’d even stayed friends, for a time, after an amicable breakup.

The entire relationship was spent in various closets. We held hands in the dark. I didn’t even tell my parents until we’d been together for at least two years. We’d ignore the sneers we’d get in public. I handily hid my gender issues.

Not long after I turned eighteen, I stopped hiding the gender issues and began working towards manhood. I’d like to think I did okay for a former girl scout. Along with that? I started dating (and hooking up with) other men.

Like my ex-girlfriend, my ex-boyfriend and I got used to keeping a couple inches away from each other while walking in public, especially in the shadier parts of town. I got used to calling him my “partner” just so I wouldn’t have to out myself as gay/bi to classmates or colleagues.

When I came to realize I would be a guy dating a girl, some small part of me finds I’m still amazed at the novelty of it. Another part of me feels a little guilty. And I feel that weird guilt, especially as I “pass” more and more as a male. I blend in, when I was used to sticking out. Sometimes it’s comforting. Other times I feel like a traitor selling out the gay agenda.

But that’s the thing about being bi. We date who we date. We love who we love. And hoping one of these days, it’ll only be love that matters.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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