Sitting at my check-up, getting blood drawn. This is not the place that you intend to have a deep conversation with anyone. If you are anything like me, you hate needles, and have an irrational fear of anything that smells like a medical office.

The nurse and I started to chat. We talked about how school was going and how much I love living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (I am originally from the Lower Peninsula and I am attending graduate school now in the UP). She had all of her supplies set up, and she turned over my left arm revealing my tattoo. She commented on it and said that it was beautiful and wondered what it meant.

I explained to her that, like many people I know, I have always wanted a tattoo, but never knew what I would get. And this tattoo tells my story. It tells the story of a 22 year old graduate student who was sexually assaulted. It says that I have faced pain, and that I have a constant battle with the demons in my head. But it also tells you that no matter what has happened, I am still here. It says that my story will continue because I choose to continue.

The tattoo is a simple, but intricate arrow with the word “warrior” written in the shaft in cursive. A semicolon resides in the arrow head. This tattoo is my constant reminder that being a survivor of sexual assault does not make me less of a human being. I am strong. I am brave. I am a warrior. This tattoo is my philosophy of life.

With God as my archer, I can do all things.

There are times in my life when everything is going wrong and it feels like something is pulling me back.

There are times in my life when everything is going perfectly and I feel like I am flying.

Those times when things are going wrong, are the times when God is drawing his arrow back, to prepare me to soar into times when things will go right.

The times when things go wrong are a reminder that things cannot always be right. They keep me humble and grounded. Without these times, the flying would be taken for granted.

With God as my archer, I can do all things.

My tattoo tells my story. I am still healing and I still have a long way to go. But my tattoo is a reminder to keep going.