Tattoo Stories #1: Theatre Masks + Finding Emotion

Nov 9, 2018

3 minutes

Depending on your country of origin and culture, tattoos may be seen as religious, spiritual, or cool – or they may be frowned up, vilified, and harshly judged.

For people without tattoos, there are often a lot of questions in their mind.

For those of us with tattoos (like myself), we’re often happy to talk about our tattoos, their meaning, and why we got them in the specific location we did. Sometimes, the story is short and silly, but other times, the story of a tattoo is a deep, meaningful road that is worth traveling.

In this ongoing series of blog posts, I’ll share the story behind my five current tattoos (in the order I received them), as well as the future tattoos I choose to get (I’ve currently got two planned for 2019, and more than five for the future).

I hope you enjoy this journey and yes, I encourage you to ask questions in the comments.

Let’s do this!

Tattoo #1: Theatre Masks + Finding Emotion

(please enjoy my very non-professional photo of my own tattoo)


  • Age When Tattooed: 17 years old
  • Tattooed in: Connecticut; USA
  • Body Location: Lower Back
  • Time to Complete: 45 minutes

Fun fact: my first-ever tattoo was an 18th birthday present from my Mom.

Her logic: it’s your body and you have to live with it. Thumbs up, Mom.

Since I got the tattoo done a few weeks before my 18th birthday, my Mom had to sign a waiver, giving me legal permission to get a tattoo (if I had waited until I turned 18, I could have gotten it done without her permission).

At this stage in my life, I was in my last year of high school and very focused on my career as an actor.

These masks are traditionally used in theatres, symbolizing the two classic, opposing elements vital to any drama: comedy and tragedy. I got the tragedy mask in blue for the obvious symbolism of blue meaning sad. I see green as a very happy, wistful color because of its association with nature, so I did the comedy mask in that color.

Initially, the masks symbolized my focus on acting professionally as a key part of my future.

You might have noticed that I’m not a professional actor now.

I was an OK actor, but I often got passed over for roles because I was too tall compared to the rest of the cast (I’m 5’10” / 177 cm). This happened often, both for stage plays and movies. After a few years of being “too tall,” I transitioned to modeling and I did that for 10 years instead – they liked that I was tall (but not that I was curvy, but that’s another story).

Seventeen years later (holy shit, it really has been that long), my first tattoo has completely different symbolism.

With high school coming to an end and consciously choosing not to go to college yet, my job as an actor was to pretend to feel emotions as realistically as possible.

There was one problem with that: I hadn’t felt most human emotions before.

As a child, I was happy enough – I smiled and laughed a lot before I started going to school. Once in started school, information became my life. All I wanted to do with my time was to learn more and more and more … with one exception: singing.

If my nose wasn’t buried in a book, or I wasn’t at the library getting MORE books, I was singing along to my favorite CDs. When singing, I felt a rush of emotions that I didn’t feel in my day-to-day life.

As I got older, acting became another opportunity to expand my understanding of human emotions and, therefore, my own emotions, no matter how buried they were.

My first tattoo has come to symbolize the first of many turning points in my life where I was progressively embracing the beautiful advantage of allowing oneself to feel.

To this day, my first reaction to any situation is to gather data and analyze, but once I have a small amount of info, I start to connect to the emotion of the situation.

What emotions naturally come up? What emotions could cloud a person from making a good decision in this situation? Is this a time to lead with your heart or your head (because it’s often one or the other)?

To this day, communicating my emotions by talking is still the most difficult way. It’s easier to sing or write my emotions out, but I keep trying, and that is what my first tattoo reminds me to do.

Keep trying, keep creating, keep feeling. 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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