Hold On: the story and meaning behind my tattoo
Today I thought I’d do a bit of a different blog post and share with you a meaningful story; the story behind my tattoo.
Not everyone is aware of my tattoo, but I had it done 27th August 2015. For most of my life, I never imagined myself getting one, mainly because of my fear of needles. And well, I’m still quite young and was sort of terrified of the thought of having something permanently inked on my body when I could very well change my mind when I get older. But last year, things changed.
Ever since 2010, I used to write the words ‘Hold On’ on my wrist everyday. It’s the title of my favourite song in the world, which is by Olly Murs (are we surprised?). In 2009, I had my first nervous breakdown and it meant I had to not complete year 8 in school. It was a difficult time. Around the time of my recovery, ‘The X Factor’ was on. I didn’t really pay much attention to anything, not even music much (which is insane to think about now) because I was in such a dark place. But nevertheless, I’d sit on the sofa week in, week out, with the family as watching big TV shows such as this one was our family night together. I don’t know what it was, but Olly caught my attention. I can’t really pinpoint what it was, maybe even though a grey cloud was metaphorically hovering over my head, something took note of his charm during his audition and how passionate he was. I’d quietly take note of Olly’s journey through TV’s biggest talent show and I think when he sang ‘The Climb’, which was by Miley Cyrus who was my favourite at the time, it sort of twigged. I knew this song off by heart and sang it all the time, but I guess after taking notice of Olly a lot, it was my distraction and the message really hit home that life is a climb, but the view is great. I was gutted when he didn’t win ‘The X Factor’ and had doubts of ever seeing him again because of how few acts had been so successful following the show, even if he was beyond talented in my opinion. But he proved me wrong, thankfully, and became a hit. I was at a place in my life where I was very self conscious about what I let people know I was into in school so I kept my love for him very quiet, but hearing ‘Hold On’ on his debut album was a song I needed and up to this very day it’s such an important song to me. I used to write it on my wrist everyday before covering it with my school jumper, only peering at the words when I needed encouragement.
As many of you will be aware, in 2014, my dad fell ill. For almost all of his time being poorly and being in and out of hospital, he was misdiagnosed and 2014-2015 proved to be hell for my family and I. Mid August 2015, we had the news that broke us all – he had cancer and it was terminal. I was angry, hurt, upset and terrified. I was so broken, but one night it just clicked- my dad had been a tattoo enthusiast his entire life and even ended up moving into the flat about his regular tattoo parlour which belongs to his best friend. I wanted to get a tattoo and it was at that moment I had never been so sure of something in my entire life. I had the design planned in my head and not too long after making the decision, the hospital gave my dad a few hours release to come with me to get the tattoo. All the doctors and nurses were excited about it and some even welled up when I told them the meaning behind it. I chose to get numbing cream, which my mother bought especially, because I do not do well with pain, but this was so important for me to get. I always knew if I ever wanted to get a tattoo, I wanted it to be with my dad. Time was running out, I didn’t have long to make the decision but it’s one I’d never been so sure of.
Getting the tattoo was emotional because my dad began to well up over his little girl getting her first tattoo. Inside I was breaking because I knew this was going to be our last father-daughter thing we did together. The hospital had estimated around 4-6 months for my dad, but with them being so drastically wrong in the past, I didn’t hold out much hope. I decided to make my dad laugh by making faces at him while getting the tattoo done, which was weird because it was as though I finally felt what a parent must feel to be brave in front of their child only this was in reverse. The tattoo was done by one of my dad’s friends who worked at the parlour, which made it all the more special.
My dad passed away a few weeks later, Sunday 13th September 2015. It’s been an extremely difficult time and they say time is a healer. I’m still broken but I always have him with me. I don’t know what happens after death, even if I’ve had some theories, but I know if it’s possible, he’s around me in spirit and if not? His love was so strong that it can last an eternity, even if he isn’t here himself.
On Monday 14th November 2016, I met Olly again for the fifth time at a CD signing. I didn’t have long to talk to him, but I briefly explained the tattoo and his face lit up when he saw the words ‘Hold On’. I did have a letter to give him but couldn’t print it out in time (and my handwriting is abysmal – I wouldn’t want to force him to try and read it!) so I hope to send him a fan email (which I did in 2013 and got a beautiful autograph signed to me, which isn’t normally how he responds to fan mail – just a standard signature) for him to read because I think it’s so important to let artists know the kinds of impact they can have on people’s lives. Music is a universal language and connects us together, so to me I feel it’s vital the artists know what good they can cause with their talent. I may even send him this blog post if it makes things easier to explain, but either way I hope he gets to know the full story someday. Whenever I meet him, I tend to verbal vomit and I don’t always have the time to be able to go into detail, so hopefully getting to read it when he has the time will be the best way to show him the importance.
Would I call this a fan tattoo? Not really. I know many people get lyrics tattooed for the artists they love, but this isn’t about my love for Olly.This tattoo is meaningful for two reasons; it’s about the light he and music brought into my life at one of my worst times. I’m still not whole but I’ve a lot more faith now and I know I can turn to music, including Olly, when I need it most. The second reason being the last father-daughter moment I shared with my dad before his passing which was so personal and sentimental to me.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. It was emotional to share, but I’m happy to finally share my story.