We continue to be humbled by the stories people have trusted us with. Here is Tanzi Merritt’s story about what the words of her tattoo mean to her:
“There were a number of phrases that I loved in the poem, but ‘taking the long way’ made its way to the top of the list. At one time, my life was ordinary. I did all the things I was ‘supposed’ to do and never really questioned what was expected of me as a daughter, a student, a wife, or a friend, and for a long time things were very good. Everything went exactly as I had planned. I had everything I was supposed to want, and I was miserable.
I would love to claim that I recognized that I wasn’t happy and made a change on my own, but that’s not how it went. I would have probably stayed right where I was because I was doing what I was supposed to do –what I had planned—and I was secure there. I might have stayed that way forever, but an outside force swept through my life and turned everything upside down.
A lot of things happened over the next few years that I never would have predicted. Some were bad and some were good, but the one constant for a while was that I didn’t recognize myself or my life. I had to rethink everything I believed about pretty much everything. It was challenging, and often very difficult, but I grew and I changed into someone who I like far more than the person was before.
Today I have a job that I love but never could have imagined I would ever do. I am involved in activities that I couldn’t have even imagined being a part of. (Has anyone seen a marching band around here?) I have the most interesting and amazing friends, and I am surrounded daily by fascinating people who are all so different from each other, but also so incredibly fabulous that I can’t imagine being without them. I have systematically let go of a lot of beliefs that were weighing me down. I’m still not the easy-going free spirit that I wish I was and probably never will be. I’m still a worrier and I still cry quickly and often. Life isn’t always easy, but it’s a small price to pay for the benefits of living a life that isn’t always safe and predictable. I’m not doing anything amazing or changing the world, but I feel amazed every day because of the people and things around me, and I feel lucky. I am happier than I have ever been, and not only do I feel like I took the long way to get here, I’m pretty sure I’m still on a long and winding, albeit quite scenic, path to get to wherever it is that I’m finally going to end up.”