Why do people get tattoos?  Perhaps the most important reason for having a tattoo is personal choice.  It is a form of self-expression.  Tattoos are known as body art. “The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian word tattau, which means “to mark,” and was first mentioned in explorer James Cook’s records from his 1769 expedition to the South Pacific.” 
Tahitian tattoo
People use tattoos to mark occasions, to honor loved ones and to express emotions.  Having a tattoo is a way of saying something without saying a word. You can state your preferences very clearly with your choice of design.  Others get tattoos as an act of rebellion. 
I got my first tattoo at age 50.  I call it my midlife crisis. 
“A midlife crisis is experienced between the ages of 40 and 60. It was first identified by the psychologist Carl Jung and is a normal part of the maturing process. Most people will experience some form of emotional transition during that time of life. A transition that might cause them to take stock in where they are in life and make some needed adjustments to the way they live their life. Most seem to come through the process smoothly without making major life changes.”
I saw age 50 as a turning-point in my life.  I was no longer a child, and I no longer had any living parents.  I don’t think I would have gotten a tattoo while my Mom was still alive.  She didn’t approve of pierced ears.  I wasn’t allowed to do that until I was 21.  “If God meant you to have pierced earrings, you would have been born with holes in your ear lobes.” I was in my 30’s before I got my second set of earring holes. 
I had always kind-of wanted a tattoo, but I didn’t have the nerve to get one.  Something changed when I turned 50.  I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission or make excuses for my behavior to anyone.  I finally felt like I’d reached adulthood and no longer needed to apologize for what I said or did.  I had also come through a period of major loss, losing my Mom and two of our much-loved cats within a short time span.  I went to the tattoo parlor by myself.  Someone asked me afterwards what Eric had said.  We had talked about it beforehand, but it was all my own decision.
“Symbolizing a life-changing event – Some tattoos are a representation of a period of time or specific event which was a turning point for that person. They can serve as a reminder of what we have been through to get where we are today. There are an infinite number of events that occur in our lives that help shape us to be who we are.”
My first tattoo is a heron on my lower leg/ankle area..  Anyone who knows me knows that I have a real passion about herons.  I bird-watch and we have been known to make road trips to various wildlife refuges to find herons.  For me the meaning of my heron tattoo is the ability to stand alone, uniqueness, independence, vigilance, quiet, power of water, tact, delicacy, renewal, life and transformation.
I got my second tattoo this year (at age 53).  I am a water baby, an Aquarius (the water bearer).  My dream is to retire somewhere where I can sit and watch the water.  I could sit for hours and do just that.  Being near the water is very calming to me. I have a stylized wave design on my forearm that suggests the symbol or glyph for the Aquarius astrological sign. A water tattoo can represent power and strength.

My tattoos express a little bit of who I am. I never thought I would have one, and now I have two.  I think they say I am strong, unique and independent.