I love my tattoos. I'm proud to say that I've designed them all myself. Tattoos require a ton of planning, courage, and even more self assurance. The former has always been a challenge for me. My first piece was much more than just a tattoo, it was more than just my first tattoo. When I sat down in that chair I was doing something that nobody in my family had ever done. I'm the first one on either side of my family to have tattoos. It's not that my parents are super strict and it's not that I did it to piss them off or to be rebellious. It's that they just didn't understand why I'd made this choice for my body.

When I got my first tattoo my parents naturally had a lot of questions - even though i'd been talking about doing this for years.

"Why do you want something so permanet?"

"Why do you want to do this when you're so young"

"What could be so important that you want to put it on your body forever?"

The truth is that I'd considered and answered all these questions in my head a thousand times. And each time I arrived at the conclusion that this was still something what I wanted very badly to do.

My first and most special piece was for my grandfather and for myself. I got that tattoo about a month after his health had started to fade. He'd already been weakened in previous years, and we knew that an additional battle with cancer would make it much worse. So the minute the concept crossed my mind I knew this was going to be the one. On my right inner bicep. I have the the word ALENKA surrounded by upside down and right side up question marks. Alenka is Czech for "Little Alena." My grandfather always called me that. The tattoo is not only done in his memory, but it represents my heritage, everything I know about being Czech and everything I may never know. It's a tattoo that is timeless and will ring just as true as the day I got it.

I chose a tattoo to express this part of myself because I felt like I would get the most out of the experience. I personally feel that if you are willing to pay someone a decent amount of money for someone to drag what feels like a vibrating cat scratch across your skin, whatever you're getting must be worth it.

My grandfather passed away last April. I was devastated. I knew almost instantly that I was going to want to get a memorial tattoo for him. I decided to wait a year before I got anything. I've found that the first year without someone whom you loved so dearly is hardest. Each holiday or special occasion without them is like an old would being opened over and over again.

This will be my third tattoo, maybe my last for a while now. Choosing to get tattoos at an early age has given me a lot of faith and confidence in myself and in my decisions. I feel more secure in the choices that I make and that has benefitted me deeply.