Why I don’t have any tattoos


I like tattoos. I enjoy the idea of wearing something that matters to you printed on your body. Like a lucky charm that you never take off.

That being said, I don’t have any tattoos, and I probably never will. Because I am fickle, really, but it’s more than that. It’s because, of all the ideas of had for tattoos that I liked or thought I would like, I haven’t stayed enamoured with any of them for more than a month. And that’s the bar I’ve set for myself. If I like an idea for more than a month, I’ll get the tattoo. And I’ve had a lot of ideas, but none of them have stood that test.

I probably would have gotten one anyway, and possibly-probably regretted it, if it weren’t for the fact that, when I first thought about it I wasn’t legally old enough to get a tattoo, and when I fell out of love with the idea I’d had for one, the relief I felt was so strong. And when I thought, “What if I had gotten that tattoo?” I felt a kind of panic. Like being trapped in a turtleneck sweater in a public change room (which is, by the way, how one of my best friend describes anxiety). The idea of something on my skin that I couldn’t take off made me feel intensely claustrophobic, as though I would have been trapping myself in my own skin. I’m also prone to writing notes to myself on my arms, so I would also have been depriving myself of canvas.

Most of the ideas that have struck me have been quotes. I love this quote by Albert Camus:

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
Maybe too long for a tattoo, though? Maybe just “infinite summer”? Still, I love that quote.
I also liked the idea of “I must not fear”–part of a longer Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune:
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing…only I will remain.
The last quote I never actually thought about getting, but did contemplate when I briefly contemplated a dragon tattoo–I think this idea lasted for a day and was because I really liked this Rilke quote:
Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
And I still love that quote. But I can’t think of any part of it that I want to put on my body.
Do you have a favourite quote? A tattoo? A tattoo idea that you never actually got because you’re a fickle bastard like me?

2 thoughts on “Why I don’t have any tattoos

  1. I like the idea of waiting a month and seeing if you still want to get the tattoo. If it’s not something you really want, then you’re right: it’s possible you’ll regret it.

    I have four of them: one on my foot, one on my forearm, one on my ankle, and one on my wrist. They are all fairly small. When it comes to tattoos, I’m really picky, and I have certain “rules” I follow. I only use black ink (don’t like color tattoos for some reason) and if I get a word or phrase in a foreign language, it has to be a language I speak (none of those random Chinese characters, etc). My favorite tattoos, however, are words or quotes. I like the Camus quote you’ve chosen, a lot. πŸ™‚

    • I kept meaning to respond to this but kept forgetting–I totally understand about the colour tattoos, I’m not a fan of them, either. Maybe it’s because I’m very pale and am slightly concerned about a bleeding effect (though I kind of love those watercolour tattoos that are showing up more and more), and all my friends who have colour tattoos say that they have to get them touched up more than their plain black ones. And I fully support only getting tattoos in a language that you know. A friend of mine got a tattoo of a line from a poem by Pablo Neruda in the original Spanish, but she’d only read it in English, and the actual phrasing of the Spanish poem is a bit more … disturbing than the English translation. I don’t have the heart to tell her.

      Yeah, I love that Camus quote. If nothing else, I think I might put it on a poster/canvas someday πŸ™‚

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