Others in mind

In generations past, tattoos were marks of rebellion. Those who had them were in the minority. Now, they’re commonplace. People with tattoos on their arms, legs, torso, neck and hands are everywhere and these people are considered normal, instead of outcasts.

It’s possible to say then, as I recently heard someone remark, that the status of tattoos has reversed—instead of marks of rebelliousness, they are symbols of conformity, donned by mindless sheep who want to communicate a message.

I have a horse in this race—I have a blossoming oak tree tattooed on my chest—and I disagree. But not because I seek to defend the rationale for previous or future ink. Instead, I’d like to point out that the status of tattoos as symbols of rebelliousness or conformity should be utterly irrelevant.

In my mind, whether you get a tattoo should be determined with a total disregard for what others think. If it will be personally beneficial or meaningful, do it. If not, don’t.

It’s the same in many other domains—clothing, career, relationships, hobbies. Pursuit or avoidance should be a consequence of your own utility or non-utility, not done with the opinions of others in mind.