I was born in Frederick, Maryland, on September 9, 1995. I enjoy telling people how I’m from the D.C., Maryland, Virginia area when I meet them because I have an odd sense of pride about this mysterious place that I love so much yet have never really had a true connection to.
Outside of making regular trips to the DMV area as a kid to visit family around Thanksgiving, I never really interacted with the area. I hold those trips dear because so many familial bonds and memories were created over the course of those years, but I still felt as though I needed to prove myself to the city. I felt as though I’d never fully earned its respect and acknowledgment.
Having now traveled to D.C. numerous times in my — short — adult life worked there in back-to-back summers, and become acquainted with its surroundings, I feel like I have slowly gained its attention and respect.
The tattoo is an acknowledgment back to the city. The three stars and two bars make up Washington, D.C.’s unique flag and I’ve always liked the simple design. That adoration is a direct reflection of how I’ve longed to plant my roots in that city.
The tattoo is a reflection of my initial roots — being born just up the road and spending so much time with family there — and an acknowledgment to the roots I have yet to plant.
For the past two summers, I have worked as a Team Advisor and Head Team Advisor for the National Student Leadership Conference’s Journalism, Film, and Media Arts program at American University. The NSLC program is one of the most monumental encounters a high school student can have in their teenage years.
It has had a profound impact on my own life, and I feel as though I have almost taken away more from the sessions than the students have.
Last year, working in the program helped me begin to fully express and live as the true person I am. I learned not be ashamed of my personality and the topics I am interested in. It taught me the value of reliable friendships and community that aren’t necessarily composed of people with the same values as your own. It made me a much better human being.
This year’s session opened me up to amazing connections with a multitude of people — each one altering my life in ways unimaginable. I learned what my greatest fear is, how I most effectively lead those around me and a myriad of other things. I am forever indebted to those individuals who have made major contributions to the person I am — the people who encouraged me more than anyone could ever hope to be in their lifetime.
The flag is a banner over a city and a people who affected those changes and actualizations.
. .. .
As I grow closer and closer to graduation in December, not only am I growing more and more anxious as the months turn into weeks and days, but I am realizing just how badly I want to plant roots in D.C.
Yes, I realize it may not be realistic. Yes, I realize it’s expensive. Yes, I realize it has a host of issues and corruption. I am very well aware.
I am well aware that I may never live there, and that’s ok. This place still stands as a checkpoint in my life, and the tattoo reflects that. I left it unfilled on purpose.
My story is unfinished.
As I plant my own roots down in life — whether that be in D.C. or any other place — the elements of the flag will slowly be filled in.
Perhaps a star would be shaded-in for proposing to and marrying my wife. Another star for landing my dream job. A full bar for purchasing my first home. The options are wide open.
All I know is that I’m not done yet.
So many things lay ahead in my life, and I would be a complete fool to believe that I have reached life’s pinnacle. I would be crazy to think that life doesn’t hold possibilities I haven’t even begun to think of yet. I don’t want to race through life without recognizing those moments of eternal impact.
So, we’ll see what happens from here. I’ll continue to live in the present moment and soak each hour, minute, and second of each day I have in this life. I hope you chose to do the same. They’re precious moments.