I got my first tattoo when I was 21 years old. It was a small bear on my left arm but it has been covered up with another tattoo afterwards. Nowadays I have a full back piece with a much bigger bear on it. I have taken all of my tattoos at a quite fast pace but I don’t regret them. As a teacher, I find it important that I don’t have tattoos on places that are too visible – I want to be able to hide all of them if necessary. Sometimes my students try to use my tattoos as a decoy for not doing what they are supposed to do, and try to chat with me about my tattoos instead.
Most of my tattoos have no story behind them. Even if there was some kind of story to tell, it usually holds no deeper meaning for me. For example, on my left arm I have a beetle. If I’m asked why do I have such a nasty thing on my hand, I usually say it is a reference to Franz Kafka’s novel The Metapmorphosis in which the main character turns into a monstrous vermin. For me, the beetle is monstrous enough. I also have other insects inked on my skin. Sometimes I think it’s because of them I’m not as afraid of insects as I used to be, but I guess the real reason is that because I live in downtown, I hardly get to see any of them anymore. I still freak out when I go to the country side.
I have a rowan branch in my arm, since I spent my childhood living on a small street that was named after rowans. I enjoy living urban life, yet I love getting tattoos that are related to nature. Some studies say that taking a short walk, even just for 15 minutes, can lower your stress levels. Optimistically, I think having rowan and pine branches is close enough! Sometimes I wish I lived in another city where there would be beautiful nature close by, just like Kauppi in Tampere. I haven’t really been able to find anything like that in my hometown.
I am quite clumsy and careless, so I’m wearing elbow and knee pads – or that’s what I’d like to think. I have both of my elbows and knees tattooed, although the chrysanthemum on my other knee is a work in progress. I know they won’t heal to be as pretty as they were if I fall on them at some point, but I’m still hoping that having them on my skin will protect me a bit.
I really liked the idea of getting a candle that is burning at both ends. It held no deeper meaning for me at first, but some of my friends thought it’s actually just like me. I have been working all the time while studying in the university, which has led me to not graduate on time. At some point, I even had two part time jobs and worked as a substitute teacher at the same time. It’s not really something I would recommend to anyone. I am not good at saying no and I also really love to schedule my calendar. Too often I realize that I haven’t saved any time for relaxing and just resting. The tattoo is supposed to be a reminder now.
Text tattoos aren’t really something that I would like to have on my skin. I have made one exception: mom tattoo. It’s also one of the tattoos that has an obvious meaning. It has a needle on it, since she has always been sewing and knitting clothes for me. It was a long-time dream of hers to make me a dress to vanhojentanssit, which is a ball for the second graders at Finnish upper secondary schools. I only went there to make her happy. Now she is knitting me a sweater for the winter, so I can’t complain. I really love her. When I showed her the tattoo she thanked me and asked me to not get any more tattoos for her. At some point, I would like to get something for my dad as well, although I know he might not appreciate it either.
It’s not hard to tell that I am a big Moomin fan. I have two Moomin tattoos and the portrait of Tove Jansson on my skin. I have watched all of the Moomin episodes countless times. I can even tell you the synopsis of almost every episode if you just give me a hint of which episode you want to hear about. When I was a child, the Moomin comics were my favourites. They are something one would never get tired of, and it is the same for Tove Jansson’s books for me these days.
Mainly my tattoos are just a collection of the things that I like. I take them for myself. If someone wants to hear stories behind them, I can just make something up if I feel like it.