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Why I Have a Song-Related Tattoo

One day before I left my hometown to start my freshman year of college, I wound up at a tattoo shop with one of my best friends. I’ve been meaning to get a tattoo for at least six months at the time, but I never thought I’d actually follow through with the idea. I told myself I would wait until I turned eighteen, but I kept chickening out. However, when I got a text from a tattoo artist that read, “Can you get here in twenty minutes?,” I leaped off the couch and sprinted to my car with pure excitement.

To say the least, ever since the summer of my freshman year in high school, my ears have been inseparable from headphones. I lived and breathed my Spotify playlists, so why not permanently put something on me that shows that? On the other hand, though, I was the person who would listen to a song until I wanted to rip my brain out. I never thought I would be able to decide on a tattoo and love the idea long enough to put it on my body, yet here I am. I look at it every day and have never regretted the decision once, but it’s always an interesting conversation when I tell someone why I have the word “nervous” on the inside of my wrist.

I consider myself to be fairly involved in the indie pop/rock music community, and it’s the genre I prefer most. Those of you reading this who were avid Tik Tok users a couple years ago or like this type of music may be familiar with the music artist, Current Joys. This solo project of Nick Rattigan gained popularity years after the song “New Flesh” was released, as it was used to signify nostalgic memories or “aesthetic vibes” on Tik Tok. The experimental indie pop sound provides a comforting feel to those wanting to share their lives with the world. I happen to be one of the people who found Current Joys this way, and ever since then I began to get more and more into his music. Off the same album, “Blondie” is also an honorable mention and might now be more recognized than “New Flesh”. On the contrary, others might know the name Nick Rattigan from the indie rock band, Surf Curse. In comparison to Current Joys, Surf Curse focuses more on a surf rock and post-punk sound. The song “Freaks” has begun to take over the internet, as the instrumentals can easily be recognized even if someone doesn't necessarily “know the song”. I personally prefer Current Joys over Surf Curse, but they are both two of my favorite bands in separate ways.

Now, why is this important? Well, as someone who listens to Current Joys everyday (either on purpose or accident), I dragged my dad and one of my friends to one of his concerts earlier this year. I have been to Lollapalooza and several other concerts aside from that, but nothing has yet to top this experience of mine. Due to my severe attachment towards his music, it was very emotional and thrilling for me to get to see him live. It felt very surreal in the moment, but I couldn’t sleep the night after because the excitement was still wearing off. Other than that, the encore was what really shook me to the core and stayed with me to this day.

When Nick Rattigan came back on stage alone, without his band, I had no idea what to expect. The chords that escaped his guitar were none other than the single song I tried to avoid from his discography. He didn’t have a grand finale, yet a message to leave the crowd that would stick with them: stick with me. I steered clear of this song with the simple name “Nervous” because it reminded me too much of myself. I got dragged back to the dark place my mind sometimes inhabited during my senior year of high school with each lyric he sang. This time however, I didn’t feel so alone. The song wasn’t just a recording on my phone that blasted through my headphones. Instead, I was in a room full of people who felt the same way I did. Most importantly, a room with Nick Rattigan who we all felt like, yet looked up to regardless of this dark place we all know exists. If that’s not uniting, I don’t know what is.

As if I weren’t emotional enough at this point, my dad found me in the crowd after the song finished and made me feel heard. He knew I was going through some things during that time of my life, and after he told me his positive thoughts on the concert he gave me a hug. I was not expecting to hear the words: “I understand why you love this artist so much. That last song he played reminded me so much of you: I’m starting to get it now”. These two sentences were followed by more tears because I’ve never bonded with my dad in such a way, and it seems like the one thing that brings us together most is our taste in music. He’s been with me when I saw Dayglow for the first time, this concert, and Hippo Campus (his favorite out of the three). I will never forget that moment because it has genuinely impacted my growth in how I view my dad and I’s relationship, along with the knowledge that I’ll never be truly alone with my struggles no matter how much confusion others may have towards understanding them.

As for the tattoo, I was able to find an Instagram post of Nick Rattigan’s handwriting and pick out the letters that spelled “nervous”. What’s a more unique font than someone’s handwriting? I crafted the word to make sure the spacing was just how I wanted it to be, and it now inhabits the inner side of my left wrist. Before I got the tattoo, I used to envision it there and hope to see the day where it would become a reality. Now that it has, I could never be happier with my decision. I’m not saying that all tattoos have to have some sort of deeper meaning, but I’m personally glad that mine does. It reminds me that I always have someone looking out for me, and that I’ll never truly be alone. Plus, I always think I’m the funniest person alive when someone says “I feel nervous” and I slowly turn my wrist around and respond “...me too”.

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