The Story Behind My First Tattoo

WARNING – Discussions of mental health; particularly anxiety, depression and suicide.

At the beginning of 2019, I decided that one of my goals for the year was to get a tattoo. After all, I had been considering getting one since I was about sixteen but what I was getting had chopped and changed. First I wanted a compass to represent the changing directions my life was going in – what can I say, I was a troubled teen! Then, at about 18 years old, I was totally considering getting the lyrics to my favourite song by 5SOS. However, I felt that I might regret that decision in the future. It was then that I found out about the semicolon tattoo and its meaning.

At first you may think that a semicolon tattoo is just for grammar enthusiasts. But it actually means much more than this! The semicolon is a representation of struggles with mental health. More specifically, it tells the story of how you could have chosen to end your sentence, but you chose not to. Immediately after seeing examples of this tattoo I knew it was something that belonged on my skin.

I struggled with both anxiety and depression throughout my late teenage years and I still deal with them on a daily basis. Mental health was part of the reason I withdrew from some much as a teenager; whether it was attending sixth form or going to university! And at times, when it got really bad, I did consider ending it all. I was never suicidal to the point where I made a plan to end my own life. However, I definitely had thoughts like: “If a bus hit me right now, I probably wouldn’t even care!” as I begrudgingly walked into school. I just felt so useless and convinced myself that I would never achieve anything. However, with the support of my friends and family, I was able to persevere with my studies (despite not attending school most days a week, I still passed all of my A-Levels) and I got myself into a better headspace through counselling.

While I am in a much better place now, I imagine I will continue to manage these mental health issues until the day I die, which is why this tattoo is so poignant to me. Because no matter how old I am or where my life takes me, it will always be meaningful – as well as reminding me of how far I have come.

Not only does the tattoo tie into my dealings with poor mental health but I like to think it represents me as a copywriter and a blogger. After leaving the hell of school behind, I started an apprenticeship in digital marketing where I got to write everyday! In my last year of sixth form, that’s when I realised I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a copywriter – or more specifically, a social media content creator. I had always loved writing stories. Growing up, there were too many times to count where I would threaten my sister to act in plays I would create for us. I also once designed a magazine with my friends and tried to convince all of my classmates that it was real and being published! (It wasn’t – unfortunately.) And now, after 13 long years in education, I could finally do what I wanted to do 24/7.

During my time working as a copywriter, my blog and Instagram really started to take off. This is probably my most proud achievement so far in my 21 years of life! It may seem a bit sad or lame but I’m proud to have built a little community of people who enjoy what I have to produce. For the girl who was nervous of speaking because she thought people would call her fat, I have done a complete 360! Now I can confidently say I don’t care what people think of me. I am confident to be who I am and give out my opinions when necessary. While I admit I can be shy and reserved at times, I am nowhere near close to the girl whose anxiety stopped her from ordering drinks in Costa.

I like to think this tattoo symbolises the early part of my life – a little, permanent memory of ‘Emily as a young adult’ who was trying to figure out who she was going to be and how to get what she wanted. Maybe I’ll get another tattoo in ten years time to commemorate the time that has passed and all the changes I have made.

So that’s the story of how I picked my first tattoo! If you would like to know how my experience went or have any questions, let me know below.

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  • Did I Achieve my Goals for 2019? - emilydiscovers
    29/12/2019

    […] For the longest time I wanted to get a very specific tattoo and I had put it off for ages because I was so nervous. However, my sister turned 18 in June and she decided that she also wanted a tattoo. It was getting to October and I realised I still hadn’t ticked off this goal so I decided to take the leap and message the shop. After an initial consultation, we went back into our local tattoo shop on a Saturday morning and prepared for getting our first tattoos. I was super nervous but once it was done, I was so happy. I couldn’t stop looking at it in the mirror! I wrote a blog about the story behind my first tattoo which you can read here. […]

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