Tattoos don’t change who you are on the inside. PHOTO COURTESY PIXABAY USER STOCKSNAP

What I feared most before getting my first tattoo was not the pain, but the disappointment that would follow. For most of my pre-college life, I lived under not necessarily strict, but the compulsory rules of my parents. I’m sure you’re familiar.  In my good Christian household, as an only child, I was raised by the standards of Jesus Christ himself. Purity, like that of an angel, embodied who I was. Would Jesus Christ get a tattoo? Probably not. So my parents couldn’t even fathom their daughter getting one.

The freedom of college that follows such restrictive times leads kids to do things beyond their small bubble worlds. There’s no one to tell you when to do things, how to do them, or whether or not you should be doing them at all. It’s freedom and rebellion, a turbulent and thrilling time all at once.

Now, that’s not to say that my first tattoo was a rebellion against the restrictions of adolescent life, but rather a rebellion against myself, a testament to my growth into someone that I always felt I should be but never was.

College is a time of self-realization, not self-discovery. You realize who you are, who you’ve been all your life, and let that version of yourself take full reign over everything. You find yourselves doing things less because you have to and more because you want to. You can choose who you want to be around, what you want to do, how you want to dress. The person you want to be may not necessarily align with the person your parents want you to be.

And that’s OK. Trust me, they’ll love you anyway. They really have no choice.

Getting a tattoo doesn’t make you any less of an angel. It doesn’t make you any “less” anything. A couple pokes and scratches on the surface of my skin amount to very little. If anything, tattoos have made me feel more like myself. Just like dyeing your hair red or wearing makeup, tattoos are just another way of looking in the mirror and seeing yourself for who you feel you are.

So to everyone I’ve disappointed for decorating my body the way I feel it should be, I’m not sorry. I’m sorry if you feel that I’m someone else, but I assure you, it’s still me in here.