The Compass is a Symbol of Adventure

“I’m not lost, I’m on an Adventure” How do ensure you aren’t lost?  Since the 11th century, sailors have used compasses on their journeys.  Myth has it that sailors would get tattoos as a good luck charm, and often as an act of hope and faith to return home.  These days, with GPS and other gadgets to give you physical directions, the compass has evolved into being a symbol.  The compass as a tattoo has become a personal symbol.  For me, the compass is a symbol of adventure.

Compass symbolize independence, as it assists you in moving out of your comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory. It also signals confidence in your ability to find your way and not to become lost.”  (Source: SymbolSage)

compass tattoo examples

Search online and the meaning for a compass includes guidance, on a journey, travel, exploration, discovery and wanderers looking for direction.  Or it could mean you spread positive vibes.  Or have an affiliation for the sea.  If you have a reason for a compass, why not?

South East North West

SENW.  Those are the initials of my name.  When I first was applying for my marriage license a bazillion years ago, I decided to add his last name onto my names – because of the initials.  SENW – like the four winds!  Those directionals represented travel and freedom to me back then.  Over the years, my initials and long name Stacey Elizabeth Newman Weldon) became part of who I am – or my “brand” (before I even knew personal branding was a ‘thing’).

Family Symbols

Mother and son at tattoo parlor

After I sold my house in New York and moved West, I decided to get my first tattoo.  Two small, interlocking hearts to represent my two sons.  

Then the pandemic happened.  This made it hard (an understatement) to visit them and get their precious hugs.  At some point, they both said they wanted to get a tattoo that would represent me.  A compass seemed natural, given my initials.  This project gave us a different kind of bonding experience.  Almost a “special” secret as most wouldn’t know all three of us would have coordinating tattoos.  And those who do, understand the connection.

The Compass is a Symbol of Adventure

We started researching.  We discovered we each have our own tattoo style preferences.  I prefer the simpler line art with water colors.  One son prefers American Traditional.  And my other son prefers photo realistic and monotone tattoos. Who says we have to have matching tattoos?  It’s the symbolism and what it represents to us that matters.

I created a Pinterest board (https://www.pinterest.com/adventurewednesdays/adventure-tattoo/) to gather all my ideas.  I saved screen shots from online articles on compass tattoos.  Finally I narrowed my idea down to something I could live with a long time.  Usually, compasses are pointing “true north” and proceeding (clockwise) to the East, South, and then West.  

tattoo drawing by Jose

Drawing by Jose at House of Ink in Mt Vernon, NY

However, since my initials start with S, then it should be at the top.  Not having thought deeply before about the letter sequences, I realized it wasn’t a mirror flip.  Just North & South!  My rationale?  I’m always saying to look at things in new, different ways.  To me, it makes sense to not worry that other’s true North is not mine!   I like getting lost!  If anyone were to use my compass…they’d definitely get lost too!  This makes me so happy.

Does it Hurt?

Jose getting ready to work on my tattoo

Meet the artist! Jose works with the same talented artist who created my first tattoo. He was great at making sure I got what I wanted!

When I showed off my first tattoo, many people wondered the same thing I did.  Does it hurt?  The first one was a simple, small line drawing in a cushy (non-nerve ending) spot.  It didn’t hurt.  With this second one being bigger and more intricate, I wondered if it would hurt more.  Yes.  It did. 

compass tattoo in progress

The back shoulder is still less nerve endings than other places, so I thought it would be okay.  The needles never felt so bad that I would jump and scream.  The comparison I had once heard kept ringing through my head.  It felt like cat scratches.  Sometimes it was a cat doing a very fast tap dance with its claws out.  Other times (most likely when colors were being filled in) it felt like the cat’s claw was stuck and going in circles.  As it heals, the pain is similar to a recovering sunburn where my bra strap rubs in an annoying way.

Should this pain scare you? No.  Tattoo artists know their work.  The good ones can discuss with you what to expect.  What should scare you? Not connecting with a good tattoo artist and having to live with a poorly done tattoo!  While Pete Davidson  may be an example of being able to remove unwanted tattoos, it doesn’t mean it’s easy!  And, apparently, hurts more than getting one.

Never Say Never

black lines of compass tattoo

The black lines of the compass tattoo are done first. Jose checked in with me before doing the colors

Finished compass tattoo

Freshly done tattoo. Jose gave me instructions on after care.

After I received my first tattoo, people asked if I would get another.  I was happy with the one.  I didn’t think I had a need for any more.  Never say never, right? But the ache of the pandemic changed us.  My sons and I were brought together on this idea.  And have turned it into action.  We now have a forever memory.

Have you said “never will I ever” to doing something, and changed your mind?  A tattoo was my “never.”  But adventure called.  Trying new things has brought me joy.  

Once again, a tattoo has become an expression of who I am as an adventurer.  The compass symbolizes my independence, my sense of freedom, my personal journey to my true north.  More importantly, it reminds me – “I’m not lost, I’m on an adventure!”

Compass tattoo one week later

Compass tattoo one week later

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Be inspired by these guest bloggers who have created their adventure attitudes and transformations in their unique ways.

Sometimes to shift your outlook on life, you need to shift your perspective by traveling somewhere unfamiliar, or seeing familiar places in new ways.  It was while I was in another country that I realized – everywhere is someone’s backyard!  I’ve also become a big fan of traveling to one place that is wildly different each year – an event in the Nevada desert called “Burning Man”

Are you dreaming of tiny house adventures?  Start here.  I’ve worked at a tiny house builder, and am renovating a 1975 Airstream to be my home for my digital nomad life.

Your Adventure Mindset Mentor

Stacey Newman Weldon You need more fun & spontaneity in your life, and aren’t sure of next steps or the path to follow.  Let’s connect! You could choose a free 15 minute chat, various courses, or even select one-to-one coaching.

Learn more here:

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