Growing up, both my parents had tattoos. My aunt and uncle who brought me to my first punk show, are covered head to toe in tattoos. My brother is covered in tattoos, and I knew one day I would be too.

When I turned 18, I didn’t do what most kids do when they get their first tattoo. I didn’t go get a little tiny piece, I got a half sleeve. At 19, I have two sleeves, a rib, and leg piece, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I was always told to have tattoos that have a story or a meaning, and all of mine do in a way. I love my tattoos because they represent me, and what I have lived through in my lifetime.

I love my tattoos because each one has a close meaning to me.

I have nine tattoos, but in order to understand what each means, you have to know a few things about me.

Time for a little history lesson.

My last name, Waring, is an old English translation to Varangian. The Varangians, or Varyags, can be translated into Viking. In essence, my last name means Viking. In the old Islamic texts, it was said that the tribe was covered in tattoos. The only parts that weren’t tattooed were the whites of their eyes and their fingernails.

Naturally, I should follow in my ancestors' footsteps.

My sleeve on my right arm is a tribute to that. My right arm is all Norse Mythology. At the top, I have Jormungandr, the world serpent. Below him, I have Yggdrasill or The World Tree.

The Vikings viewed life, as a tree. The Vikings believed there were nine realms, with various groups of people living in each one. The roots of the tree connect to each realm. On the tree, I have Fenrir, the wolf, Nidhoggr, the world tree serpent, and Veðrfölnir the hawk.

On my left arm, I have two V’s, Radio Kid, a Kingdom Hearts Keyblade, a Social Distortion Skeleton with a coffin and a rose with the lyrics “Take Away This Ball And Chain” and the current piece in progress, cherry blossoms and a lotus in a wave.

The two V’s, my brother and I have together. In old English, the “W” was originally made with two V’s.

Radio Kid is a tattoo that I also got with my brother. Growing up, my brother and I were really able to connect over music. The last concert my brother and I attended before he moved to Washington was a Strand Of Oaks concert. It was the first time my brother and I locked arms and sang the lyrics and a moment that I will always cherish.

The key blade is a tattoo that my Mom and I got before she moved to New York. She got a locket in the shape of a heart. Yes, Mom, I convinced you to get a video game tattoo, but it is Disney and you do love Disney.

The Social Distortion Skeleton and the lyrics describe someone who has had a metaphorical ball and chain always dragging them down no matter what they did to get their life better. The song begins with “A broken nose, a broken heart, an empty bottle of Gin. I sit and I pray in my broken down Chevrolet, singing to myself ‘There's gotta be another way.'" This is something that I have done myself. I grew up listening to Social Distortion, it will always be a big part of my life.

The waves and lotus, blossoms and waves don’t have too much meaning other than it is both peaceful and chaotic; a balance that I strive to have in life. The blossoms and lotus are peaceful. The waves are chaotic, rough seas.

On my ribs, I have a switchblade with the words “Sick Boy”. A sick boy is a mechanically inclined, tattoo covered, leather jacket wearing, motorcycle riding greaser. In other words, me. I embrace who I am, and who I will be. If I change, I am always able to reflect with happiness on what I was when I was young.

On my leg, I have Johnny Cash, another artist I grew up listening to, and one of my heroes. I always wanted to be tall, strong and proud, like him. I wanted to have his integrity, his will. A genius who changed the musical world. A true outlaw who never cared what anyone thought of him.

In whole, I will always love my tattoos. Each defines me, and all the ones I will continue to get will do just the same. Since I have started getting them, my self-confidence and worth have skyrocketed.

When I am asked if they hurt, the response is always the same. "Fuck Yeah, it hurt!" Sorry, Dad, I know I broke your rules of nothing below the elbow, but at least I haven’t gotten one on my neck or face...