It has come to my attention as I get older and grow more and more comfortable in my skin, that I am capable of withstanding a lot of brute force. In this industry, it is necessary to develop a thick skin.
Back in college in New Mexico, as a freelancer writing restaurant reviews, I specifically remember receiving my first email from a reader. I had incorrectly used the phrase "my date and I" when it should have read "my date and me." I sat there at my desk, in my apartment before classes started and felt so ashamed. I remember how hurt I was and how when I consulted my teacher, she agreed with the sender of the email. From that moment forth, I have taken every email from readers to heart and have made my best attempts to grow from them.
Nearly seven years later, my skin has grown thick and become resilient. It's become flexible, while also absorbent. I take everything people tell me and make little Post-it notes in my mind, and refer back to them when the time is appropriate.
But as with any skin, regardless of how thick it has grown, how adaptable it can be, there is wear and tear. Areas of weakness appear and even the softest jab can bring about a bruise, or the cunningest comment can cut deep below the surface. But the difference between bruises and cuts is that the bruises will disappear. The tenderness will dissipate and the original color will return. Cuts will leave scars. Sometimes minute, other times blatant and obvious.
Why all the talk about my skin? I've noticed that my skin has put me in some interesting predicaments. My thick skin has put me in bickering matches with friends and family. My sensitive spots have left me vulnerable under fire of criticism and judgment. I'm only human, it happens.
But recently, in the last few months, my skin has earned me a spot under scrutiny's microscope. I wanted to add a little color my skin. And so I did. I got my first color tattoo. I already had two on my forearm and added one more this past May. I identify with it. It's a representation of who I am. I am the same person I was before I got it as I am now. I am the same friend, the same sister, the same daughter and same individual I was before that day when the needle broke through and stained my skin with colors and shading.
If I didn't get the tattoo, I'd still be me. Now that I have the tattoo, I am still me. It shouldn't set me apart from everyone else. We live in society where adornments are always desired. That Coach purse your sister has, those 22-inch rims your boss bought yesterday, those Gucci glasses my good friend wears and this tattoo I so strongly identify with. I don't know what it is about the tattooed demographic, but it seems to me that despite how much they are a part of everyday life – your banker, your doctor, your daughter, your husband, your neighbor – it seems to set you apart.
I try my best not to judge others. It can be hard, but in the end I think it is worth the effort. I think it would be best for everyone, if we all made the attempt.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with that judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged." — Matthew 7:1
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