11 Thoughts Everyone With A Personal Tattoo Has When Someone Asks About It

When I decided to get a deeply personal tattoo on the inside of my wrist, I didn't consider that it would be the first thing people saw when they shook my hand. It goes like this: "Hi, nice to meet you, oh! You have a tattoo! MP, what does that mean?" By the time I've finished stating my name, I have a complete stranger asking me about a very obvious tattoo with a very unclear meaning. I didn't think people would see it. I didn't think people would want to understand it. And I certainly didn't think it would be something I'd have to talk about right off the bat.

MP are the initials of my first love who died in a car accident. I got the tattoo about 45 minutes before the funeral in a state of "I don't know how to express this grief." There was no time to over-think it. At the time it seemed like a necessary homage to pay. I never thought too much of it. I never regretted getting it. I don't look at it that often. But I like knowing it's there. In retrospect, was there a better place to put it, if I didn't want it to be the focal point of an introductory conversation? Sure. But the reason why this tattoo is especial special to me is because it's authentic — it was completely conceived on impulse and emotion.

But bringing up my dead exboyfriend when I'm on a first date, a job interview, or meeting someone new is not something I'm ever prepared for. I've learned to say things like "Oh, it's a long story," and change the subject, but it never gets less weird. If you have a personal tattoo that's in a pubic place, these are probably some of the things that go through you mind when you're asked about it.

"Will This Person Judge Me?"

When you're just meeting someone new, you have no idea how they're going to react to the nature of your tattoo. You want them to get to know you organically, not because you're divulging in the meaning behind a tattoo that's very personal to you. You don't want to be judged prematurely for your tattoo.

"Can I Trust This Person?"

Because your tattoo comes up in conversation before you even get to know a person, you have no idea if you can trust them to share the truth with them. Maybe you don't want your personal business going around town, how can you know if the person you're talking to is worthy of your privacy? You're trying to gauge them as quickly as they're trying to gauge you.

"How Will Their Perception Of Me Change?"

A part of you will always want to know what this person would think of you if that tattoo never came up in conversation. You have a strong feeling their perception will change.

"Will They Think I'm Troubled?"

People tend to project feelings onto tattoos. Just because it might have been a sad event to get a memorial tattoo doesn't mean that I'm sad whenever I look at it — it's much the opposite. But because it makes other people uncomfortable, they assign feelings to me that are not always accurate.

"What's The Appropriate Response?"

What is the socially acceptable thing to say here? Is it best to say it's a memorial tattoo? Is it best to change the subject? Is it OK to say it's private? What is the most polite thing to do when you don't want to get into it?

"Do I Have To Tell The Whole Story?"

You're always telling yourself that one day you're going to write an abbreviated version of the story so you can tell people a light summary instead of the whole story, but you never remember to. You're constantly thinking about how to shave down the story when someone asks you to tell it.

"Will The Truth Make Them Uncomfortable?"

You've had this tattoo for so long, you're totally unfazed by it. But you know that the person asking about it has no idea it's a depressing subject matter. You're desperate for a way to avoid making the person asking uncomfortable with your answer, but you know it's unavoidable.

"Will The Truth Make This Awkward?"

Will you be able to recover from this awkward interaction? You know that you're going to do an odd job of explaining what the tattoo is and you know you're going to be desperate to change the conversation. Can all of these blips occur without totally making the whole exchange a fail?

"Will Not Answering Make Them Feel Rejected?"

More than anything, you don't want to answer the question. But you know how it feels to be shut down by someone and you're apprehensive about doing it to someone else. You panic and wonder if there's a way to say nothing without making the person feel rejected.

"Should I Make Something Up?"

MP doesn't have to stand for a first and last name...it could stand for Market Price, or My Pleasure, or Melrose Place. Can I get away with making something up? Does every single stranger I meet need to know about my story? Is this an opportunity for a white lie?

"Should I Just Get It Removed?"

Because these interactions cause you so much stress, you often wonder if you should just get it removed. It would certainly be a relief not to have to worry about it, but deep down you know you're never going to get rid of it. It means too much to you. It means enough to make it worth it for you to have awkwardly painful chatter about it on a regular basis.

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