the story behind my first tattoo


As a teenager, my main downfall has been putting my self-worth in other people’s hands and not my own. That has led to so many bad decisions.

Last Friday, I decided to reclaim that power as I took another step toward recovery from self-harm.

I got my first tattoo. That’s right — the Keba girl is inked.

The tattoo says “Unless.” on the back of my neck. It’s short for the Dr. Seuss quote: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, NOTHING is going to get better. It’s not.”

With an 18-point font size, it’s hardly big at all; however, it’s symbolic in many different ways. (As all tattoos should be, right?)

Getting the tattoo was empowering, and my strength continues to grow, day by day. I feel invincible; here’s why:

1. Dr. Seuss has played a role in my literacy since I can remember. As a little girl, I would fall asleep in my mother’s arms as she would read me “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” almost every night. Unfortunately, after her kidney failed when I was 5, she would always be too tired to read it after a day of dialysis treatments.

Even though her reading to me was such a simple memory, it is the highlight of my childhood. The tattoo is also for her (she has always wanted one), because in every situation she faces, my mom always finds an unless.

2. The next time I stumbled across Dr. Seuss was in sixth grade. As a little kid, I suffered from speech impediments and reading disabilities, so I was sent to a special education class. All year, I was forced to read various Dr. Seuss books over and over again. It infuriated me and I loathed my teacher for putting me through that torture and ridicule, so I vowed to show her up (along with all of the kids who made fun of me).

I began to read for hours on end, and by seventh grade, my spiteful attitude found an outlet. I began to write and my passion has gotten me through my darkest battles. Even though I would go months without writing, I never fell out of love with it. I don’t know where I would be today without everything writing has taught me.Writing is my air.

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