- Sunday, 24 July 2016 -

My Tattoos and Me

Hello my lovelies! Before I see my body shape, the acne on my face or the countless other trivial imperfections that eat away at my self esteem, I see my tattoos. I stand in front of the mirror as I notice the intricate detail in some and the vibrant colour in others, a smile stretching across my face as I recount each and every time I sat in the tattooists chair, with laughter filling my head as I recall the pain I endured for this piece of artwork that will forever be etched on my skin. 

Sometimes, during the colder months I tend to forget that I have this secret armour on beneath the layers of coats and cardigans that cocoon me. That is until I find myself at a coffee shop, reaching over the counter to collect my order when my sleeve slips back and I catch a glimpse of some lines and shading peeking out from underneath. 

I currently only have my arms and legs tattooed (hands and feet included) - my legs are multicoloured whereas my arms are done just in blackwork, because in my head, it feels somewhat balanced. I remember a few years ago going to a counsellor and having to go through my entire history of suicidal thoughts and self harm, informing her that I used to suffer from both. Concerned, she asked me whether I’d ever consider harming myself again and in that moment, I remember looking down at my arms and imagined all that beautiful artwork distorted and destroyed. I shook the idea from my head and told her “no”.

When I’m out, I see the widest variety of emotions flash across a persons face when they first notice I have tattoos. Not as tabooed as they used to be, the reactions generally range from positive to quizzical as people probe into why I went for a full arm sleeve when something daintier and more feminine would have suited me better. As a woman who intends to one day be fully covered, I just usually dismiss their ignorance and bask in the knowledge that everyone has the choice to do what they want with their bodies, dainty butterfly tattoo or not.

It’s true, tattoos aren’t for everyone, but neither is shellfish or skydiving. As a designer, I suppose it was always written in the stars that I’d eventually end up with a tattoo or two (or twenty at this stage, oops!), as usually the more creative the individual, the more likely they are to be inked, and because of this, I’ve thankfully never had to face any discrimination in the workplace. Having even worked as a carer with my tattoos occasionally on show, I’m happy to see a greater level of acceptance from employers, seeing my personality first and not the half naked pin up lady on my leg.

When I’ve got a tattoo to look forward to, I develop tunnel vision and focus on nothing else. The gloom and darkness that would usually cloud my thoughts dissolves as I look forward to the colour that is soon to be injected into my life (and quite literally at that!). So, if you’re mulling over your first tattoo and find yourself on the fence, take the plunge and live your life in colour, paint that blank canvas and don’t worry, there’s always laser removal ;)

- Friday, 22 July 2016 -

A Little Life Update!

Hello you lovely lot! I honestly thought I'd struggle to string these first few words together when I've been gone for so long. It feels soothing to dip my toes back into the warm pool of blogging, I missed the creativity, the interaction and nothing beats that rush of pressing publish on a post, right? I knew I'd always come back to blogging and that it was just a matter of timing, with the final months of my degree looming over my head, I knew I had to give it priority - all or nothing.

It absolutely broke my heart to close down the tabs of Blogger that I'd opened up without even thinking, it killed me to see my social media accounts go quiet when they'd always been so vocal and vibrant in the past. So, I distanced myself as best I could from blogging to focus on what I'd been working so hard towards for the past 4 years, and on the 11th of July, I graduated with a First Class Honours in Interactive Media Design. 

I say 4 years because during the start of my 2nd year my mental health took a turn for the worst and I had no choice but to take a year out. It felt like those dreams you have where you're trying to run away from something or towards something but your muscles are made of tar and the tar is about to harden, and you become slower and slower until the tiredness and frustration defeat you. But you can't let it beat you.

So, I await my next adventure. At the end of August, Martin and I move to Manchester to start our lives together. I'm currently applying for jobs left, right and centre and feel uncharacteristically optimistic about it. Right now it feels kinda weird not worrying about anything, as I'm stuck in that limbo between graduate life and employment, I'm learning to savour every last drop of freedom whilst repeating to myself "you've earned a break." I'm excited for a lot of things these days, and can't wait to share it all here on my little blog.

In other news, I'm currently back home in Northern Ireland where it feels pretty surreal to think that this'll probably be my last summer free from any real responsibility. In my final few weeks at home I have plenty of blog posts planned to get me back into the swing of things, including a cheeky giveaway as a way of thanking this little community for their endless support and unwavering friendship.