The BIG 30 Project: #1 Postmark Tattoo

This week I decided to start talking about The BIG 30 project. If you want the whole story on it, click here, but the short version is this: I’m trying to do 30 new things before I turn 30.

The rules are simple:

  • Items only count if they’re documented
  • It has to be a skill, experience, or event that I’m excited about and has personal meaning
  • All 30 items must be completed on or before midnight, March 2nd, 2019

Aside from having a general outline for what the 30 items have to involve, I don’t have a strict list of 30 things to do. The reason I don’t have a list? It keeps this goal from becoming a chore and gives me the flexibility to add things I may not have anticipated (such as my Amanda Palmer encounter, to be discussed at a later date).

The first of the 30 things I’ve done was actually the jumping off point for for the entire project, even though I wouldn’t know it until later.

I’ve always been intrigued by tattoos. I think they’re sometimes beautiful, sometimes mystifying, sometimes poorly thought out, but always interesting.  I have one tattoo on my ankle (a cross) but it’s more a representation of my past and my family than something that represents who I am as a person (beyond the fact that I am the type of person who gets a tattoo that represents my past and my family, obviously.)

I’ve always had the itch to travel, for as long as I can remember. When I lived in Ireland, I got to scratch that itch more than I ever dreamed possible (this metaphor is starting to MAKE me itch, so I’m going to abandon it now). I found travelling to be one of the most satisfying experiences of my life and after I returned to Canada, I wanted to commemorate that time in my life somehow. I filled four photo albums with pictures I took, but that didn’t feel like enough for something that fundamentally impacted me.

The only downside about living abroad (beyond missing my parents and friends [this sentence is mainly for the benefit of my Mum. HI MUM!]) was that I wasn’t able to go to my family cottage. The cottage is almost like a member of the family to me. The happiest parts of my childhood were spent at the cottage, it’s where I learned how to swim, it was where I got to spend time with the closest thing I have to a sister (HI KATIE!), and it’s where I always felt relaxed.

When I started to come to the decision that I wanted a tattoo that represented me, I almost immediately came to the idea of getting a postmark. What better way to represent my love of where I came from (the cottage), my love of travel (it being a postmark), and my obsessive love of antiquated things?

As my 25th birthday gift to myself, I saved up the money I got from Christmas, and booked an appointment with tattoo artist Sarah Rogers at Five Cents Tattoo (she did some amazing work on a friend of mine and is one HELL of an artist. I HIGHLY recommend her). I showed Sarah some photographs of different post marks and we talked about what I wanted, placement, and what was feasible for the size I was looking for.

When the time came for my actual tattoo appointment, I decided to go alone. Having gotten one tattoo, I had a rough idea of what I was going to be in for on the pain scale (minimal), but I hadn’t anticipated the nerves that came that day. The night before my appointment, I had a dream that a giant ugly butterfly got tattooed on me instead of what I wanted and I woke up incredibly relieved it wasn’t there.

Of course, then I had to go to the tattoo studio.


As weirdly nervous as I was, I was also excited. I was doing something I really wanted to do, something I was nervous about, and I was happily doing it alone. It felt like getting on the plane to Ireland all over again.

My appointment was near the end of December (almost two months before my birthday, but I couldn’t wait) and it was weirdly warm out, so I walked to the studio. I still think about that walk from time to time. It was a long walk, but it was so unusually nice out and I was so excited. It was one of those days where you think to yourself “I better remember this because it’s rare you get a day like this.” Obviously I have remembered it. GO ME!

The appointment itself was great. Sarah is not only insanely talented and professional, she’s also super chill and made me feel totally comfortable. It was just us in the studio, we chatted and joked around, next thing I knew – it was over.

Here's the tattoo the day after it was done, hence the very slight redness.

Here’s the tattoo the day after it was done

I was so proud of myself at the end of that appointment. It may seem like a small thing and I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t count it as an accomplishment, but for me it was.

I can’t really explain it, but it was a moment that made me wish I could go back to the 13 year old me who hated herself and say:

“I know you’re scared and you don’t like yourself right now and honestly, that’s going to always be a part of you, but you know what? By the time we hit 25, we’ll have DONE shit. We’ll have GONE places. It’ll still be scary out there and we’re still going to be hard on ourselves, but we’re going to keep growing as a person. We’re going to MAKE ourselves do things. In fact, we’re going to make ourselves who we are.”

It was hoping that I’d be able to say something like the above someday that kept me going at 13, I’m glad I fulfilled that hope.

My gift to myself at 25 wasn’t just a tattoo that represented who I am, it was giving myself permission to do something I really wanted. It marked a change in the way I move forward. As I move forward, I want to do more, try more, and take risks that I would have been too scared to take in the past (even if those risks aren’t always that risky).

I want to make 13 year old me proud.

Hopefully, by the time my 30th birthday rolls around, I’ll be able to say that the me in my 20’s made me proud.

Personally, I think I’ve got a great start.

Completed BIG 30 Items

#1. Postmark Tattoo


Posted on February 12, 2015, in The BIG 30 Project and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I hope you manage to have a wonderful and evenful passage to 30.


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