Own Your Past: Tattoos and Impulsivity

If we are not regularly deeply embarrassed by who we are, the journey to self-knowledge hasn’t begun.
— Alain de Botton



I had just received a message from Laserderm — a hair and tattoo removal place in Joburg.

Smiling. I looked up. Locked my phone. And I carried on with my run.


I got my first tattoo of the Arsenal cannon in high school. I fucking love that tattoo. My second one, on the other hand, kind of leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.


I have a massive piece of bible scripture on my left shin (Joshua 1v9). Like…why Josh? This bothers me for a number of reasons:

  1. I’m not remotely religious in the traditional sense. I tried the whole reading the bible and praying vibe during some dark times in school. to a certain extent, it helped — but mostly, it just gave me false hope (so it seemed).

  2. I sometimes forget that I have it and I think to my thinking self, fuck, this oak I’m speaking to must think I’m such a toss bag. Looks like I fell asleep on a wet newspaper.

  3. Visiting Japan will be an issue. I will have to wear one of those tattoo cover-uppy thingy’s when I walk in public.


I’m embarrassed to say, in addition to outdated religious text, I got a tattoo of Africa that says "Stolen from Africa” when I left to study in USA.

Once again, what the actual fuck was I thinking. How original, right?

I hope you get that I’m completely over my irrational, self-conscious, beliefs around my tattoos.

When I got back from the USA I had this plan: ok Joshy boy…shit is about to GET SEEEEERIOUS. You’re going to enquire about getting that stupid ink of your leg. Then, you are applying to University of Pretoria like a big boy. You are going to study Investment Management because that’s what big boys do. Then, once you’ve made enough money — only then! — you can be happy. Ok? Sweet. Get in the car big boy.

Anyone who knows me well, will tell you I have the worst FOMO on this planet. Miley Cyrus is coming to Cape Town for a one-time show? Sign me up. There’s a secret techno party 3 years from now in a hidden location within Jozi’s CBD. Tickets already been purchased. Amazon have a deal on blankets that make you look like a human taco? How much? Done.

Jokes aside, that longing for the erasing of certain memories or events in our lives is what fucks us up the most.

Own that shit. I look at my tattoos now and laugh. They serve as a reminder to maybe think a little deeper when doing something. I still make regular panic-purchases, but the Cartesianal curve is far straighter.

There is a common saying in meditation: invite Mara to tea. Mara is the malace, the shame, the dark thoughts. Don’t entertain him — but rather, observe him. Paradoxically, when you observe him, he goes away.

Your past — in a very real sense — defines you. Where most get it wrong, however, is the narrative they go along with. A destructive narrative of thinking they ‘will always be that way.’ This is not true.

Looking at your past, owning it, and moving forward is a liberating process.

Own that motherfucker with a smile and laughter.

Have a fantastic day,