After my heart was broken, the tattoo I got helped me cope

Around two years ago, I experienced my first major heartbreak, which sent me into a deep downward spiral. This should have been your run-of-the-mill heartbreak, something to recover from after a month of gorging on Netflix and ice cream. Instead, I became more and more of a pessimist, someone who constantly made excuses for why life was unfair. Why did this happen to me? Why was I so unlucky? Why me?

This negativity crept into all aspects of my life and my way of thinking. It got to the point where something good would happen and instead of being happy, I would turn it around and justify why I was still miserable. One day I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize who was starring back at me. I wasn’t who I wanted to be and I realized my attitude detour needed an overhaul.

When I didn’t recover as quickly as my well-meaning friends insisted I would, I started asking questions in my usual pessimistic manner, which unlocked Pandora’s Box of emotions and uncomfortable feelings. However, it was only when I asked myself those tough questions that small shreds of hope began to reappear. It was around this time that I came upon an arrow in the most ordinary of places – I was shopping for jewelry. For some unknown reason, I felt a pull towards its simplicity and quiet strength. An arrow is progressive, unwavering, and always moving forward. To me an arrow represents strength and courage – a reminder that going through challenges makes you a stronger person. No one shoots an arrow backwards.

When I held the arrow in my hands, it was the first time in a long time that I could sense a brightness forming; I felt lighter. Every time I saw it I was reminded that I was stronger as a result of the experience, and that I had a choice to learn from it, grow, and be happy. The arrow holds profound meaning for me because it lifted my spirits in a time of darkness and stood as a daily reminder of what I could overcome. When I decided to get a tattoo to memorialize my growth, the arrow was my first choice even before I learned the meaning behind an arrow: you have to pull it back before it can spring forward.

Every time I see my arrow, I remember what it taught me about overcoming adversity, gaining perspective, and choosing to see the lessons in every situation. Even now, whenever I am going through a sh-tty situation I know how much stronger I will be when I overcome that challenge. That’s what the arrow taught me about life: it’s unfair and won’t always deal you a good hand, but it’s your choice to let it hold you down. Most importantly, the arrow taught me about perspective, that life is what you make of it. Any situation can be negative or positive depending on how you choose to look at it, and that is the most optimistic perspective you can have.Winnie Jung is a dream chaser, content marketer, and cookie baker from Vancouver. She’s currently chasing her dreams in Toronto, Canada.  (Image via iStock and the author)