Tattoosday 003: Corté

"Corté," DJ Kelly-Quattrocchi

When I was growing up, I never saw myself getting tattoos. My mother had two three-quarter sleeves (which are gorgeous) but I did not think I had anything I would want to be permanently on my body. As is with many things, college changes a lot. I ended up getting my first tattoo to remind me to be open to learn from everything that I experience as well as re-birth is possible.

My tattoo comes from Campfire USA. Within Campfire, the symbol is one of its core values, “Pursuit of Knowledge.” I was initially drawn to this value because of my work as an educator. This was a good reminder that I want to be continually learning throughout the work that I do. Whether it is from colleagues, my students, or about myself, I have always known that I want to continue to attain more knowledge. Those who know me have probably heard me say “there’s no such thing as bad knowledge, just people who do bad things with it.” That belief is what initially drew me to this image, but that is not the only reason why I decided to get the tattoo.

I worked as staff member at Camp Namanu two years in a row. Camp came into my life at a pivotal point for me. I did not want go home for the summer but I needed a place to live and make money. A friend of mine suggested coming to work for her camp and since nothing else was panning out I thought I would try it out. After getting through the pre-requisite application and nervousness about the new job there was one big thing I had to do… create a camp name.

The camp name is important when working at Namanu. Instead of giving your real name to campers, you give your camp name instead. The camp name is way to help staff maintain personal boundaries with their campers, as well as make it fun for the campers to call us silly names. I struggled to choose a camp name, since I wanted it to be a representation of who I wanted to be. What made choosing a name even more difficult is the fact that I hated who I was. During my time in college, I was trying to figure out who I was. Instead, I felt like I was becoming who others wanted me to be and I was losing that core feeling of self. There were qualities and ways that I acted that I really disliked and the parts of me I enjoyed were becoming smaller and less prominent. I knew all of this, yet I didn’t know how to fix it. Little did I know becoming Corté, my camp persona, was the perfect answer the what I was feeling.

In case you don’t know a Corté is a simple, yet elegant, dance move performed in a tango. I chose the name Corté not only because I am a dancer, but because I wanted to get back to the basics. I had inadvertently made my life complicated with drama and trying to be what others saw me, and it was slowly making me hate myself. Corté allowed me to re-design myself. Instead of carrying all of the drama that DJ had accumulated, Corté was able to take the best parts of who I was and let them flourish.

I loved being Corté. Whether it was because being in the wilderness for 8 weeks, being removed from school, or just getting a chance to disconnect from everything, it worked for me. Working at Namanu was exhausting, but the work was gratifying. I became an archery range master, became a life guard, and lived in treehouses. All of this allowed me to ground, re-center, and become comfortable with who I wanted to be. Most importantly, being Corté allowed me accept who I am and gave me the strength to change the aspects that I am unhappy with.

So when people ask me about my tattoo, it’s difficult to concisely explain what it means. It means being open to learning. It means being okay with self-discovery. It means self-acceptance. Most of it means being okay with who I am.

About Tattoosday:

Tattoosday is way to demonstrate the storytelling quality of tattoos as well as the healing quality of tattoos.

If you would like to share the stories behind your ink, send us a picture of a tattoo or tattoos that have a significant story tied to your survival in life. Then write at least 400 words (you can write as many as you'd like) about the tattoo, it's meaning, and what it means to you today.

These stories will all run on Tuesdays!
One per week! So you have plenty of time to submit them to us!

The caveat with TATTOOSDAY is that we will not be making you a free piece of art, instead, your ink IS the art we will share with the story—which makes the most sense. BUT we will send you some stickers for sharing your story with us!

CLICK HERE to share your Tattoo story!