Why can’t I just be me?

I’ve just about had it with closed minded people. I mean, really, who are YOU to tell me how MY life choices will play out? When they CLEARLY don’t affect you. This all stems from my ride to work this morning. (Between this lady and the one who SAT ON ME a few weeks ago, I’m not having much luck with the MARTA…. *sigh*.)

As i mentioned a few posts ago, I have a brand new tattoo on my wrist that I’m currently healing (1-2 weeks of peeling and itchyness before the final product is done and the skin is no longer “wounded” you could say). So when I got to my bus stop, I sat next to my fellow public transit-ers and pulled a bottle of lotion out of my bag, because my tattoo looked a little dry. Going about my business, out of the corner of my eye I see the woman next to me staring as if there is some heinous growth protruding from my wrist, and she proceeds to sneer:

“You know those… things don’t come off, right?”

No, I wasn’t aware. I just spent my time, creativity, and hard earned money on something that I want to get rid of in the next few weeks, because YOU don’t approve. (ok, no, i didn’t say all that, but what i did say was:)

“I’m aware. That was kind of the point.”

THAT just set her off. Cue the self-righteous ranting… *sigh*. I tuned most of it out, but the main gist was, “You kids will never make anything of yourselves with all these things all over you, how is anybody supposed to take you seriously when you get to college or get a job (sidenote, i’m getting kind of sick of people thinking i’m a highschooler) They’re just so hideous/gruesome/unneccessary, and so offensive to other people around you” etc. etc.

Cue me staring blankly, in shock, with my mouth hanging open. Finally my bus came. I didn’t even know how to respond after that point. I mean, I’ve had some rude stares (the conspicuous head-tilt to read my ankle etc.) but I have NEVER been approached so disrespectfully in my LIFE. For ANYTHING. First of all, where does she get off telling me what I will/won’t make of myself? Last time I checked, not only was I a BLACK graduate of both a prestigious private high school and a Top 20 university, I’m employed, and well on my way to a professional degree. In a subject that would probably boggle her hopelessly closed mind. And since when do my personal external style choices have anything to do with my mental or professional capabilities? Who the hell are you to decide my future based on a barely two-inch tattoo on my wrist that you probably would have never noticed if I hadn’t been fawning over it at that exact moment? (ignoring the fact that I wore cropped pants to work today and my ankle was also visible. lol.)

As I sat on the remainder of my bus/train ride to work (with no scarcity of condescending glances from the same woman, I might add) it really got me thinking; why are people so loath to accept someone who chooses a different path to success than their own? Whether it be career choice or hair style or God-forbid, a tattoo or a piercing, what makes it so wrong for me to do something that is different from what you do? Clearly we’re two different people, so why can’t I be the person I want, since it doesn’t affect you in the least?

I actually had a conversation with my tattoo artist, Keet (mad props to him, my wrist looks great :) on this subject while he was working on my wrist. He had a very different opinion, of course, and was talking about how hard it is for someone like himself, who is covered in tattoos from head to toe, to leave his comfort zone (the sub-culture world of artists, tattoos, piercings etc.) and go into the “real world” like the airport or the supermarket, without everybody thinking he’s a freak of nature. It’s not for the faint hearted, he quipped. He was happy for me for taking that next step in putting a piece on my body that is hard to ignore, as opposed to the 3 others I have that are very easily hidden. Not like I have any intention of being quite that decorated, but putting these pieces of art (yes, ART damnit) on my body isn’t hurting anybody else. Why is it such a big deal to the rest of the world?

Like it or not, it’s a personal choice. Just like you may choose to part your hair in the middle, when the trend this season is heavy straight bangs, or you may wear white after labor day because the dress was on sale, or maybe you feel like bringing back the House Party High-top fade, or wearing a blouse that looks like a Marcia Brady hand-me-down. It was your choice. I can have my opinions about whatever choice you made, but at the end of the day, it was not my decision, not my path, and that’s the end of it.

I ask you, evil bus-lady, did it really improve your day to berate me at the bus stop this morning, when you’ll probably never be “disrespected” by my body art again in your lifetime? No. You’re just going to be pissed off everytime you see someone’s body art, and every one you see is going to stress you out a little bit more, and raise your blood pressure a few more points, until the only person you’re affecting is yourself. Do us all a favor, Bus Lady, and everyone like you: Keep your nasty, offensive, condescending remarks to yourself. Just because you don’t have the courage to step out of your impossibly tiny black and white world is no reason to impinge upon the colorful, rich and fulfilling existences of the less rigid folks around you. I like my world, my life, AND my body with quite a bit more decoration than yours. Deal with it.

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