Anushka's blog: Tattoos and Thinking for Oneself
My schoolfriends and I have a tradition on every 10-year anniversary since we left school, the last one being in 2017, we make predictions as to ‘who is most likely to’ for the next decade. We write down our answers and then seal them in an envelope to be opened in 10 years’ time again. The topics are numerous and run the gamut from predictable, like ‘be famous’, ‘have an affair’, ‘have botox’ to the inane like ‘become a crack wh*re’. I’m pretty sure that nestled in that list was getting a tattoo.
The topic of tattoos arose again, a year or so later, at a sophisticated school parents’ dinner when we were all dining outside at long table in the middle of an Islington garden square in midsummer. Someone asked if anyone had a tattoo, to which 25 late-30s and 40-somethings all solemnly shook their heads in unison. At this point, I pretty much took this as a challenge, but what would I get a tattoo of?!
Fast forward to age 44 and I realise I had a message I was keen to impart. Inspired by a near-death childbirth experience, I’ve often ruminated on how I could encapsulate some advice for my children were I no longer to be around. First, I drafted a side letter in my will. This was the most boring thing anyone had ever read: pretty much a Tiger Mum manifesto snorefest of work hard, get a good job, marry well, don’t do drugs. Second, I painstakingly crafted an acrostic poem with sage tips, to which I mainly got a critique from my kids of the elements which didn’t rhyme properly or where the rhythm was off-kilter!
I needed something much snappier that would crystallise my advice, something visible to them at all times, that they would talk about and therefore imprint on their minds and so arrived the brainchild to get the ‘Think for Yourself’ tattoo! It’s a modest size, on my forearm and the words are written in beautiful Singhalese characters. I double checked not only on Google Translate, but with my Sri-Lankan friends and family that it doesn’t actually say ‘chicken curry’. Not one person I know has thought this tattoo a good idea, but that rather is the point. I got it because it is important to me and…. I (ahem) think for myself! The guiding principle of questioning everything I am told or taught, read about or see others doing has built a valuable instinct of critical thinking which has helped with problem solving, academically generally protected me against making poor decisions, being scammed and all number of life’s vicissitudes.
My many attempts at imparting any knowledge to my kids are often rebuffed, but I am proud they have never been capable of just taking things at face value so it may be that my efforts to get inked for them were unnecessary. Thankfully, I do love the design in any event!
Anushka works full time for a professional services firm, is married with two kids aged 10 and 12