In college, I was a writing and lit major, and nothing annoyed me more than when professors and fellow students tried to make every piece of writing mean something. What do the blue curtains mean?, the professor would ask us, and everyone would muse on how they meant hope or sorrow or blah blah blah. The blue curtains probably don’t mean anything. They’re probably just blue.
Not everything has to mean something. Something can still be beautiful and not have a deep, profound meaning. I’ve always believed that — at least, when it comes to writing. I realized I’ve been contradicting myself, for a long time, about what needs to mean something and what doesn’t.
I got my first tattoo on my youngest brother’s 13th birthday. He’s severely autistic, and I got a blue puzzle piece on my left wrist, just for him. He means the world to me; so does the cause, and so does my tattoo. It’s one of the most important things in my life, and in my mind, it’s importance trumps anything else I could put on my body.
I hate to say it, but all this time, I’ve been a tattoo snob. I’m not a very judgmental person, but I could feel it slip out when it came to this. When people have shown me their tattoos of stars or paw prints, I’ve been judgmental. Does that really mean anything to them though?, I’ve thought. Mine means so much. I would never tattoo something on my body if it didn’t mean anything to me, was my mantra for so long.
I had an air of superiority, and I’m not proud of it. I also realized I was never right.
My core belief of thinking that things don’t have to mean anything has always been correct. The world is beautiful and it just exists. It’s not here to be something other than exactly what it is. That’s the most beautiful thing about this life. It’s just here. When it comes to my writing, that’s what I’ve always believed, because I don’t care what anyone says about my writing. It doesn’t have to mean anything because to me, it will still always be beautiful, no matter what it is, because it’s mine.
I don’t care what people think about my writing, but I do care what they think about my body.
Not everyone is going to read my writing, but everyone that I encounter in my daily life is going to see me, and what I look like on the outside. I hold my words in my heart, but the arch of my eyebrow, the scar under my chin, the curve of my hips — those aren’t just for me. The words or pictures I put on the outside of my body aren’t just for me, either. They should be, because even though everyone else can see it this body is still mine.
I’ve let my body belong to everyone else by caring about my hair, my weight, and if everyone else will think I’m beautiful or not. I want the whole world to think that my body means something. I cling to this, all the way down to making sure everyone on the outside of my body means something, too. Tattoos aren’t for the world, though. They’re for me. Tattoos are an expression of who I am and what’s beautiful to me. I’ve been judging everyone else for the same thing I loathe being judged for everyday. But I’m done now.
We do not belong to anyone else. Commercials and ads have us believing that we have to look a certain way, be a certain weight, and to an extent even have certain tattoos, in order to be worth something. We are all worth something. We are worth whatever we want to be, because we are in charge of ourselves, and our bodies, and the things we put on it for everyone to see. If you think something is beautiful and you want it on your body forever, then that’s all you need. You don’t need verbal permission from the masses or a match from the big book of beautiful tattoos. It will mean something because it’s going on you, and you are meaningful.
I’m sorry to everyone I internally judged over their wonderful tattoos. It’s because I am internally judging myself, every day, over standards that no one else can agree upon anyway. We all deserve to see ourselves as beautiful and worth something, in whatever form we choose. The rest of the world? They’ll see what they want to see. They don’t deserve us anyway. If we all can learn that every part of ourselves means something, then everyone will be too busy being in awe of themselves to judge the rest of the world, anyway.