A rough summer a few years back landed me in a chair at a local tattoo shop.
I’d spent weeks doodling on my wrists with Sharpies and admiring the lines until I’d decided precisely how I wanted them. My little brother miraculously showed up at my house just in time to accompany me for the big event. Months before, he’d gotten a large cross tribute on in inner bicep. It was rich with a marble-like detail and dark gray shading. In comparison, my tiny scribbles would barely be a prick. He laughed at the idea that I was getting a tattoo at all – let alone was too nervous to go by myself.
In the chair, adrenaline hit me and I was trilled to finally make the lines permanent. But – there’s always a hitch.
I don’t do needles. And by “don’t do needles” I mean I typically pass out at the sight of them. Artists throughout the shop assured me I would be fine and chuckled at the size of the tattoo I’d requested. So I bravely held out my wrist and took some deep breaths. Within about 30 seconds, I was getting hellaciously dizzy.
“I’m really dizzy. I think I’m…” I started.
“Oh, you’re just fine!” the artist interrupted. “We’re done!”
At which moment – exactly – I passed out.
I remember dreaming about getting the tattoo. Thinking I was going to pass out but surprisingly making it through. But it was hot. Too hot. And then way too cold.
I woke up grotesquely sweaty with 3 artists and my brother staring at me. One was cleaning tools while two others were wrangling juice and water for me. My brother, helpful as he is, had whipped out his phone to capture the moment in all its glory.
How the tattoo came to be is a wonderful story of its own. I always laugh and will forever love the memory tied to my wrist and that day. That crazy-ass moment though constantly overshadows the real meaning of my lines.
In true designer style, everything about the tattoo is meaningful in ways I can’t even begin to explain. Ways that are firmly left in that turbulent summer yet planted the seeds for living in a way that’s worthwhile to me. Where the tattoo is, what it is, the lines and when I got it are all significant. But the most important piece of the puzzle is the translation.
Two lines form a Viking symbol representing the mantra “create your own reality.”
In my mind, the origins of the mark are strong, confident and unyielding with obvious hints at exploration and growth. The meaning reminds me to choose. Each and every day, I’m reminded that I have a choice in what this days holds. Days do not pass without forming a week. Weeks make the months. Months make the years. A decision now can change the face of my life at this same moment next year. Or in 5 years. If I’m not happy right now, I can choose to change it.
The concept guided me to leave my corporate role after more than 10 years of in-house marketing and design work. It inspired me to, finally, build the business I’d been daydreaming about for years. It lead me to get my passport just weeks before leaving on my first international trip. In only a year – the mantra has been the foundation for so many decisions that have completely changed my life as it is today.
It’s a new reality.