By: Alex Johnson, BANGS Mentor @alexriyan
Whenever I’m barefoot (which is often because it’s summer and my feet tend to get hot), my friends roll their eyes at my newest tattoo. Strangers laugh when I answer their questions of “What does that tattoo mean?” It’s strange, sure, a little out of the ordinary I guess, but I can assure you people tattoo far weirder things on their bodies!
A month ago I got the BANGS Shoes hashtag permanently inked on my foot in teeny, tiny black letters (minus the pound sign, of course).
I know, I’m crazy. You really don’t need to tell me. It’s about the same level of crazy as people who get the Nike swoosh tattooed on them (it’s a thing, look it up). And, yes, I do understand that this will be on my body for the rest of my life, no, I do not regret it and yes, I understand that you don’t quite get why I would do such a thing (@ my brother).
But to me, live BANGS is way more than just a hashtag.
Living BANGS means I’m living as my best self. It means I use my words to build people up, not tear them down. It means random acts of kindness become more like happy routine. To me, living BANGS means becoming astutely aware of the effect you can have on this world and its inhabitants, both negative and positive.
When I glance down at my left foot and see the little letters, it reminds me of the family I have found in the BANGS community. I joined as a lead ambassador in December 2015 and am now a mentor of the most amazing squad of human beings ever (#summit_squad what what)!
These are the people I turn to when I’m nervous about a job interview or when I get scared about moving across the country. I look to them for encouragement when I’m feeling low and get excited to share the high points with them. We band together through breakups, injuries, losing jobs and losing friends. We jump for joy together at first dates, getting accepted to dream schools, finding the perfect sticker and all the good news you could imagine.
We are a family.
Living BANGS means living your greatest adventure. Some people hike, others surf. Some people paint and yet others write poetry. Adventure means something different to each and every member of our community. Some ambassadors live in vans while others live in high-rise apartments.
But the biggest adventure of all that we all participate in is life itself.
We are all on separate journeys, but they are journeys nonetheless. We all have pain and we all feel joy. We all love. We all fail, but we all succeed too. Though our experiences are all very different, we are all joined together by one thing.
And that one thing is liveBANGS.
So yeah, this tattoo is a little silly. Sometimes when I look at it I laugh because it is just so absurd to connect yourself to a shoe brand in that way. But then I begin to think of the names, the faces, the hugs, the smiles and the I love yous from members of the BANGS community and I can’t help but feel the warm fuzzies.
I hope to be permanently connected to the BANGS community my whole life. Not just by this tattoo but by the lasting friendships I have formed. I love my little (but growing rapidly) BANGS fam and am so thankful for them being a part of my life.
-- Alex, @alexriyan