Last week, while Lindsay and Emily visited me, we all got individual tattoos together! We were all agreed that the act of getting a tattoo should be meaningful in addition to the meaningfulness of the tattoo itself. I’m really glad that my second tattoo will forever remind me of my time spent in Greece and of the fact that I have amazing friends who visited me here.
Which one is mine? Quotation marks on my right wrist. Wrist placement is my favorite, because I want to see whatever I’ve decided to etch onto my flesh for all time. I already have “Courage, dear heart” on my left wrist, so this was valuable real estate. In fact, I already knew that this was the next tattoo I wanted three years ago, but I waited to make sure I wouldn’t change my mind.
There are two main reasons I decided to get a tattoo of empty quotation marks.
I first came up with the idea while I was getting my Master’s in Counseling. I spent most of those three years internalizing the idea that it is better to be silent and supportive than to speak. I love to give advice and there is a part of me that wants nothing more than to control everyone around me…but someone who does that is a bad counselor and a dangerous friend!
Empty quotation marks reminds me to slow down, to listen first and choose my words carefully. They remind me that meaningful connections from from shutting up and letting other people have a voice.
This tattoo took on added meaning when I moved to Greece and began learning to speak Greek. I struggled (and continue to struggle) with communicating in a foreign language. Not necessarily because it is hard, but because stumbling through half-sentences hits me at the core of who I am. I pride myself on my ability to communicate well with words. It is one of the things I love best about myself. Having that taken away felt like my own self-worth was in jeopardy.
Empty quotation marks reminds me that even when I don’t have words, I have worth. They remind me that my ability to communicate is a gift, but it is not my defining quality. I am still me without my words.