I got my first visible tattoo recently, and interesting assumptions were made. Assumptions about my lifestyle, my priorities, the salvation of my soul, you get the idea. Few of these concerns were voiced directly to me, of course, but the ones that were all mentioned how I’ve “changed”.
There was a time I would have felt tortured by this and compelled to delve into every facet of that comment, but I’ve been relieved of that impulse because now I realize it doesn’t have anything to do with me. I’m still the exact same person I was when I got my first and second tattoos, the only difference is they are under my clothes. I’m still the same person I was when I had no tattoos at all. What they really mean when they say I’ve changed is that I’m different from their perception of me.
That got me thinking. There’s a lot of pressure on us to “find ourselves”, as though we’re not really living, but merely existing in some kind of holding pattern until we can tick off the right boxes.
I’d like to propose that the real you has been there all along, it’s just covered by a layer of gunk like expectations, misinformation and false obligations. As you begin to live consciously, and get honest with yourself about what you want, how you feel and what’s important to you, all that fake stuff will begin to fall off, and the person you were meant to be will shine through.
For example, my tattoos are deeply meaningful to me. They feel like badges that represent aspects of the real me that I’ve come to love and respect. In a way, I feel like getting them revealed a bit more of my most authentic self. It feels like they’ve always been there, and I finally gained the wisdom to knock off what was hiding them. The reason others will think you’ve changed, is because some people just haven’t developed what it takes to see through your shell yet. They actually think that’s who you are!