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  • Writer's pictureAlex Rathbun

My tattoo, explained

Usually when people see that I’m one of those millennials with a tattoo, they’ll ask if there’s a story behind it. And because I’m one of those millennials with a tattoo I say yes and will usually give them the short answer: it’s a promise to myself and to God that I’ll continue to explore creative outlets throughout my life.

But here’s the long answer: Creativity seems to be one of the most consistent themes in my life. Since I was young, I’ve loved to draw and sing. As I’ve grown, drawing and singing have expanded into painting, photography, graphic design, violin, piano and more.

I believe that God has gifted each person with specific talents and desires and passions (though they’re not always obvious. Some people’s natural giftings are harder to name than others). And usually when we exercise our natural giftings, God is pleased and we feel fulfilled. I believe that for me, my creativity is what displays God most in my life. When I’m painting, I feel the most peace. When I sing, I am filled with joy. When I can understand someone else’s art, I feel closely connected with them.

Because this is my frame of reference for life, I’ve realized it would not be a good option to ever give up my creative outlets. They may shift and I may need to take breaks at some points. But one of my high school teachers said it well: “most people drop their creative outlets as they get older. Life gets busy and the most obviously necessary things take priority.” I’ve seen this happen to many people around me and I’m determined to not let what is important long-term get shoved aside because of the most immediate needs in life.

So what does the actual design of my tattoo mean? Not much. I like pine trees and they remind me of Michigan, where I grew up. The lines make it feel modern and different from any ol’ tree tattoo. Other than that, I just drew it and liked it (sorry to disappoint).

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