The Story Behind My First Ink: California Tattoo

If we ever met in person, chances are you’ve seen my tattoos (I have 3 of them). Heck, if you’ve seen my photos, chances are you’ve seen my tattoos as well.

I believe having ink on your body doesn’t mean you need explain every person that asks what does the specific tattoo mean. However, people ask all the time, and more often than not, I do give them the lengthy answer.

In order to tell you guys the story behind my first ink, let’s go back to the beginning of 2012. At that point, I was finishing up my American Studies in Cracow (Poland) and was getting ready to move my life to America. Everything was set in motion, all I had to do was wait for the summer (read more about it here.)

My American Dream was so vivid at that point, yet still, I was looking for ways to express my hopes and dreams for it. That’s how the tattoo idea came about and WHERE I got my first ink.

photo by Devin Cruz 

The Story Behind My First Tattoo

MY CALIFORNIA TATTOO

So why a California tattoo? Since living on the West Coast was always my dream (I won’t lie, it must have had something to do with watching the O.C. or 90210 #don’tjudge), I wanted to get a tattoo about that. I also knew it’s going to be all written, no imagery.

That’s how I began browsing Google in search of the best poem about California that spoke to me. Something that would describe my journey and hopes for it. And let me tell you… I took time finding the right words to put on my body, because well, they were meant to stay there forever.

photo by Justin Jake Stevens

California tattoo

After hours of browsing and reading, I came across this poem by Martha Lavinia Hoffman, conveniently titled California. To my understanding, it was about the 1849 Gold Rush in California. Score, I thought! These words were not only about California, but also about the journey to find the better life. After all, that’s what I was about to embark on myself.

photo by Olivia Shea Style

California tattoo on Shenska

Granted, the poem was too long to tattoo on my body, so I founded two verses that resonated with me the most. Then, I broke them down even more to fit the specific part of my body – the ribs. Some think that’s crazy for the first tattoo because it hurts, but I didn’t mind. In fact, I loved the feeling!

After choosing the placement, the last part was finding the right font and size. I printed out my tattoo in about 3-4 different versions and played with them in front of the mirror. I think I even asked my friends for an opinion, but ultimately, it was solely my own decision.

photo by Justin Smith

My California tattoo

The words I chose to tattoo on my body symbolize my journey “with bright hopes” to “find the golden state”. After living in California for over a year now, I can now honestly say that I wouldn’t change it for the world. It may have taken years to get here, but it was so worth the wait and hard work.

I hope you enjoyed my rambling and this rather personal write up. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more tell-all posts like this one!

Also, If you’d like to read the whole poem, click here. Below are the chosen words for my California tattoo.

‘Till hundreds

with bright hopes,

elate,

Journeyed

to find the golden State.

Martha Lavinia Hoffman – California

Do you have a special story behind your tattoos?

xo,

Paulina

18 thoughts on “The Story Behind My First Ink: California Tattoo

  1. Love hearing the story. How cool! I think tattoos are so cool personally. If I could decide on one I liked enough I would do it. I love the words as opposed to an image and how you did it on your ribs.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  2. Aww loved reading the story about your first tattoo. I love that you have meaning behind yours rather than just getting it for aesthetic reasons, not that there is anything wrong with that either. I have always been curious on getting a tattoo but my hubby isn’t too supportive of that idea. I want something meaningful to and I have an idea but I’m a bit scared lol.

    xoxo
    Rina Samantha
    http://www.andshedressed.com

  3. That’s a nice and really meaningful story behind your tattoo. I have always been very scared of the pain and the fact that, as you mentioned, it’s meant to stay there forever 🙂 Yours is very pretty and I like the placement too.
    Happy Sunday, hun!

    Saida | She talks Glam

    1. Saida, I understand your concerns. That is exactly why I went with smaller tattoos, writing over images and the placement. I can still easily hide these tattoos when I’m in the workplace and I when I get older, I think they will be still easy to hide. 😉

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