I don’t have any tattoos.
You know, I wish I had a better reason for this, like perhaps being in possession of some sort of rare ink allergy – I’d feel forty flavours of special. The truth is far less glamorous: as of yet, I’ve simply never got round to getting one.
When I was a teenager, people had this theory about tattoos. And when I say people, I mean teachers, the gobby kids at school, characters off Eastenders… To tattoos, these people ascribed a magical power, and one I never quite understood – that of making you 100% completely and utterly unemployable.
The way they told it ’round the campfire, if you were ever to be foolish enough to let a tattoist have his or her wicked way with just one square inch of your skin, well… you might as well sign up for the homeless shelter now, because buddy, ain’t nobody giving you a job. Not in this lifetime.
I smelt bullshit, if I can be frank.
The evidence for their theory was incredibly scant. And evidence for its contrary was everywhere, especially in places like KFC and McDonalds, but even once in HSBC I saw an employee burst through a door marked “STAFF ONLY” wearing a white tank-top which showed off some kind of fire-breathing dragon wrapped around his tricep.
What’s more, whenever you asked these spouters if they actually knew somebody who had been turned down for a job for being tattooed, it was always “my Dad’s mate”, or “someone my sister knows” – ah yes, the brave hero of every apocryphal tale.
But who knows… maybe their theory wasn’t completely unfounded. I was willing to accept that there were certain situations where, depending on the tattoo, and depending on the job, your prospects of landing the job might be lower than with no tattoos.
But what I wasn’t willing to accept was the unchallenged notion beneath it all that in life there might be things you want to do but for no good reason you shouldn’t do them because… what might happen??? Their model of the world seemed flawed to me, that you could either express yourself or support yourself. But not both.
Nah. Didn’t buy it then. Don’t buy it now.
Henry Ford was right: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Because of course you can have a tattoo and a job – loads of people do. Or you can have a tattoo and no job. Or no tattoo and a job. Or no tattoo and no job. All of these combinations are 100% objectively possible. But your mind will only show you what it believes to be possible.
If you walk around thinking that it’s impossible to have a tattoo and a job, and you live your life as though this were gospel, then… it will be gospel. Reality will show you what you want to see, just like how when you’re thinking about buying a red car, you suddenly see red cars everywhere. The red cars were there, you just weren’t looking for them.
It should go without saying that this piece is about more than just tattoos and jobs. It’s about everything you think to be true about the world.
What you believe matters. When you believe something, you are choosing for it to be true. You are choosing for the world to look like that. You don’t like it? Choose something different.