Tattoos can easily display a variety of subjects, but also display a variety of thoughts and perspectives of a person and their choice of tattoo. The versatility of a tattoo seems to compliment the consistent narrative of the personal meaning of a tattoo as one grows older and matures. This week I sat down with senior nursing major Darby Gallo as she explains how a symbol from a totally different realm of time and culture draws parallels to her life and identity.
How many tattoos do you have and what are they?
I have one tattoo, and it is on my left ribcage. It’s an Egyptian hieroglyphic, a Wadjet. Most people don’t recognize it, which is the fun of it because it’s unique.
Where did you get your tattoo?
I got it at a tattoo shop in the Pittsburgh, PA area.
How did you handle the pain while getting your tattoo?
I have a very high pain tolerance, and it probably took about twenty minutes for him to finish. The whole time I was anticipating it to be painful, so my face was bracing for the upcoming pain. He stopped about midway to ask if I was okay and I just told him that I was waiting for it to hurt. But, it didn’t! I was absolutely fine.
Was your tattoo planned out or was it spur of the moment?
I got my tattoo when I was 18, and I had known that at some point of my life I would want a tattoo. The actual thought of what I would get was more so spur of the moment. I got it a month after I committed to looking through pieces. I was sitting at work with a friend who said, “Let’s get tattoos.” We set a date that we were going to do it and so we scrolled through Google images to get things going.
I’ve always loved different cultures and always have appreciated those whose language looks different than written English, especially ancient culture which is what drew me to Egyptian hieroglyphics. Not only is it a language, but it’s symbols and pictures. Aesthetically, it’s very pleasing, but there’s also so much more meaning.
So the Wadjet means multiple things. The meaning I have clung to is that it means peace, protection, good health and healing. Also, that life is forever changing. It’s about being able to hold on to things as roots of your identity and to remember that things are changing, but there will always be peace in life whether I recognize it or not.
I am always protected, whether it’s by my friends and their love for me, or my family or ultimately God, as He is my ultimate protection. It’s obviously not a Christian symbol, but that’s also the beauty of it as we are not the only ones who have this belief of protection. That is a shared value of humanity. It represents all these values that Christians so strongly identify with, but other people do too, and that’s something I really relate to.
Are you planning on getting any more tattoos?
Had you asked me this a month ago, I would’ve said yes. However, I recently accepted a job at a hospital, and I cannot have any visible tattoos. But, I do still have an idea for another tattoo. For my next tattoo, I want a goldfinch. My mother’s maiden name is Finch, and her father was the first person I knew who loved birds the way I do now. I studied abroad in Belize where I grew my own love for them and the summer after I returned, [my grandfather] passed away. While waiting with family on his porch before his funeral, a lone goldfinch flew into the yard. I was never really able to spend much time with him birding, but I will hold that day, and that goldfinch, with me forever.
Is there any advice you’d offer to anyone thinking about getting a tattoo?
I would recommend not getting a spur of the moment tattoo. At least, not getting one that’s related to a specific situation that’s happened to you recently. I don’t regret my tattoo, and it was spur of the moment, but since it is something that can be formative through the rest of my life, I haven’t regretted it. At the end of the day, in my view, it’s a piece of art, and that’s something