One year ago, I finalized my full sleeve tattoo, and I wrote this on my social media: A rose surrounded by dogwood branches and forget-me-nots are the flowers that complete my bouquet. The dogwood represents Virginia, and forget-me-nots are because I will never forget this five-year journey. The memories held tightly in my heart are now outlined on my skin. If each carefully placed petal could speak, they would talk of what I’ve been taught. I learned to expect the unexpected, that friends can become family, and that coworkers are precious gifts. I learned what church is and what it isn’t. I learned there is beauty in brokenness, the power of grace is real, and that it absolutely takes a village. I learned just how much fathers are needed and why family has to come first. I learned that time waits for no one, and children grow up quickly. I learned I want to be the type of friend my friends are to me. The kind that show up relentlessly, the kind that drop off meals and treats when I’m having a rough day, and the kind that stop by just because I need a hug. I learned when to speak up and when to shut up. I learned that a long walk or nap can solve almost anything and that mental health is essential. I learned to take the trip, chase the dream, and unapologetically be myself. I learned that Jesus will always meet me in the middle of my mess, music makes life easier, and laughter is the best medicine. I learned that absence does make the heart grow fonder, reunions are the absolute best, and goodbyes never, ever get easier. Tattoos were something that I never thought would be a part of me, but now they make up so much of who I am. My tattoos became an artful and sentimental therapy over the years and have shaped me into who I am today. Like scars, tattoos tell a story. A story of once upon a time, bravery, sadness, remembrance, and moving forward. They serve as a reminder of my strength, resilience, and love. My tattoos aren't the say-all, be-all of my happiness and contentment, but through the constant changes and messiness of this world, they serve as an important reminder of who I am and what I can do. The carefully drawn imprints tell me that I can take the next step, be brave, and make a difference. Tattoos might not be your thing, and that's ok. However, I do want to encourage you to find your thing. What got you through hardship in your life? How are you getting through? What are you clinging to? What serves as a reminder of your greatness and what you are capable of?
You are uniquely you for a reason, and the world needs what you have to offer. Do whatever it takes to never forget it.