When I was seventeen, my first tattoo was going to be a wing on my ankle. Two weeks before I turned eighteen, I rear-ended my best friends car. Bye-bye tattoo money. Thank goodness, too, because I would have regretted that tattoo.
Instead, the first tattoo I got was the word “cherish” on my left wrist, exactly one month before my nineteenth birthday. A lot of thought went into it: which word was the most important to me? that would mean the most? that wouldn’t be too cliche? In retrospect, I should have put equal consideration into the design, but what’s done is done. So much had happened in my first year of college, and I needed something to commemorate that growth, and to remind me to continue on that path.
I see my wrist every day. Just as I see my nose every day, but rarely register it. After six years, the ink on my wrist has become so common place, that it has nearly failed in its responsibility to be a daily reminder.
In my teenage years, I had a sour nature and tendency to focus on the negatives. I strung up my unfortunate events and flew the banners from the rooftops, clinging to the notion that they excused my sullen and sharp behavior. It wasn’t until I had someone very dear to me start pointing out that I was poisoning myself with that negativity. I wasn’t doing myself, or anyone around me, any good. He directed me towards finding positive things in my life. Me, being the stubborn woman that I am and still inclined to see the negatives, compromised by finding the positives in the negatives.
One way or another, the idea of a commemorative, reminding tattoo came about. I thought of the word “treasure”: to treasure what has happened, and that it’s often hard to find. But it didn’t sound right, and it seemed an odd word to appear on someone’s wrist. A few others came and went, until I finally settled on the winner.
“Cherish” means to hold dear and to protect, to care for lovingly. I direct it towards my memories, my experiences, the lessons learned, the people I’ve met, and to myself. It has served me well, when I take the time to reflect on it.
Things I Cherish
- Having a friend in elementary school that introduced me to video games, fantasy and sci-fi books, and writing. Even though our friendship didn’t last (most likely for the best), that’s where my identity took root.
- An argumentative divorce that took ten years to fall into silence. However damaging that it was, it did at least teach me the importance of civil speech and forgiveness.
- Owning a horse and learning how to become self-reliant.
- My independent, take-no-shit attitude that alienated me from potential friends, but also prevent all but a few, minor instances of bullying.
- My abusive relationship in college, the ending of which made me realize exactly how great I am and what I deserve.
- Fantastic friends that have stuck around through the years and across cities.
- The chance to spend six months abroad, even though it wasn’t the right place for me.
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The Importance of Silver Linings
Bad things are never going to stop happening. What can change, though, is how you let them effect you.
I still have a long way to go. I make excuse after excuse for why my work isn’t done; I whine about my terrible boss and the crappy weather; I rage at my BFF when she decides to go visit her family for the weekend instead of binge-watching Harry Potter with me. But I am taking steps to shift my thinking towards the positive and taking things in stride. I’m turning my excuses into aspects of my life that need to be examined and redirected; the weather isn’t going to change and now I have a great excuse to wear my rain boots.
It’s also about having a growth mindset. When you can find the positives in the negatives, you find the lessons in the failure. It’s from there that you can grow (understand why it’s called a growth mindset?).
Maybe you don’t have to be as extreme as me and get a tattoo, but try to find something that will remind you to think positively. Put a message in the corner of your bathroom mirror. Put silver things in your house. Repeat a positive mantra. Keep a gratitude page in your planner. Make the change.
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