“What do you want it to say?” the tattoo artist asked.
“La vita é bella” I said confidently.
“Okay, give me a second to set everything up and I’ll get you started”
He showed me the drawing of the tattoo and saying, “Okay, show me where you want it placed.”
There is was, the moment I feared most. The moment that I stuck my arm out there for the world to see. “I want it right there above the scars” I responded (hopefully) without hesitation. Praise God, he didn’t comment because I was already nervous about the whole thing. This was one of the first times I decided to let a total stranger into my personal life in such a way. Even though I have done it very few times before it never gets easy.
You see, I have spent the past years being self-conscious of my scarred arms and legs. Whenever I hand someone a credit card at the store they glance at my arm first then me. Whenever I wear a swimsuit people stare and whisper. Whenever I go to the doctor its the same conversation, “What happened to your arms and legs?” Whenever I don’t wear my jacket at work I notice people looking at my arm instead of looking at me in the face. So I made the decision that it was easier to just hide it and save me the trouble.
About a year ago I was going home to my friends house and I was going to meet her family for the first time. We were driving there and I asked, “should I change into a long sleeve shirt?” She looked at me like I was crazy for even thinking to wear a long sleeve shirt in the southern heat. “My parents aren’t going to think anything of it. That is if they even notice.” She assured me.
I listened to her. I thought to myself, “what do I have to lose?” Let me tell y’all, it was the most freeing moment. I finally felt like myself. I didn’t feel like I was hiding some big secret. From then forward I decided I didn’t want to hide anymore. I didn’t want to spend my life letting my scars dictate my outfits and how I perceived myself. I didn’t want to hide.
My past is what makes me who I am today. If anything it has given me an even greater appreciation for life. I am proud of who I am. I am proud of what I have overcome. I am grateful for the beauty that surrounds me each and everyday. I am grateful for this life.
Friends, la vita é bella — life is beautiful.