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Tattoo Ideas: Quotes on Strength, Adversity, and Courage

I have 13 tattoos as well as several piercings, and I think they're all pretty cool.

Strength tattoo ideas: "Without struggle there is no progress."

Strength tattoo ideas: "Without struggle there is no progress."

Strength Tattoos

They say what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger—and stranger. If that's true, then wouldn't you want a permanent reminder of the fact that you survived?

The important thing to remember about quote tattoos is that they can't be too long. Unless you have a huge expanse of skin that you plan on dedicating to the tat (like a forearm or your entire back), you're going to need to pick a quote that says a whole lot in as few words as possible. It has to be meaningful to you, yet short enough to fit in a small area.

A few years ago my ex wanted to get something I had written tattooed on her in my handwriting. The quote she wanted was 21 words long, and she wanted it somewhere on her inner forearms. As she was already fairly heavily tattooed, there was no need to worry about getting it on a place that could be easily hidden if need be.

She ended up getting it running lengthwise down her arm next to the word "Girl" that was already there. She was lucky. Most people don't have the same flexibility. Maybe your job is too professional for tattoos and piercings, or you don't want your mother to see it. If that's the case, then a quote tattoo can be challenging to find space for.

Another mistake is thinking that you can fit an entire poem (unless it's a haiku) on your wrist simply by shrinking the letters down to a size 5 font. Good tattoo artists will only let you make the lettering so small because they know that tattoos blend, fade, and bleed over time. The smaller the font, the better the chance that you'll be left with a meaningless blob 10 years down the road.

I personally did not take my tattoo artist's advice when I got my Polish quote on my upper arm and now, 10 years later, what once said, "Cokolwiek jest ponad pozadanie ja tomam" now says, "cokdlksdfzdjaoma."

Quote Tattoo Ideas

I recently went back through the 2,000+ comments I have on my other tattoo articles and tried to identify the most common themes people requested when asking for help with quote ideas. In addition to being a voracious reader, I've been compiling quotes in notebooks and journals since I was 13, so I have tons of inspiration to draw from.

However, if you have any ideas or would like to share a favorite quote of yours, please feel free to comment! The examples I've chosen for this particular article may not resonate with everyone. You might read it and get nothing out of it. But my hope is that something will resonate with someone, somewhere, and the words written here will inspire you to take a step you may not have taken otherwise.


Quotes About Struggle, Strength, Adversity, and Courage

  • "Once you awaken, you will have no interest in judging those who sleep." — James Blanchard
  • Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
  • May I be forever grateful that at times, I did not receive that which I truly deserved.
  • Turn your wounds into wisdom.
  • I may be lying in the gutter, but I'm staring at the stars.
  • "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how." — Friedrich Nietzsche
  • "Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave." — Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.
  • Let your joy scream across the pain.
  • Thorns and stings And those such things Just make stronger Our angel wings.
  • God gave burdens, also shoulders.
  • "If the wind will not serve, take to the oars. To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle." — Walt Whitman
  • "Mine the darkness: see by the path you leave behind." — Andy Young
  • "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." — Anais Nin
  • "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." — Anais Nin
  • "I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth it?" — Richard Bach
  • "What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly." — Richard Bach
  • "Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star." — Nietzsche
  • Leap and the net will appear.
  • Kites rise highest against the wind.
  • "Dig as a root digs until you find the motive to grow." — Casey Haymes
  • "Come to the edge," he said. They said, "We are afraid." "Come to the edge," he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew. — Apollinaire

© 2008 Jaclyn Popola


Linda on February 16, 2019:

"Written in the stars"

Lyn on January 19, 2018:

A quote I love and really want to get tattooed on me is "with brave wings she flies". I've never had a tattoo befor so I'm still debating on doing it or not.

Simi on June 29, 2017:

I am stronger than my trials

-- Dan Wells (Partials series)

Lovelyladybumps on September 27, 2013:

My son was in a car accident in March of this year and was dead when they found him. As they cut him out, he started showing signs of life. He is now recovering from a massive traumatic brain injury defying the diagnosis and rationale of every doc who has seen him. They think he will now recover enough to go back to active duty in the military, which is a stark contrast to what they told us right after the injury - that we should prepare to bury him.

His very first tattoo he got when out on his own turned out to be prophetic as well as inspirational for him and me: "The race is not given to the swift nor the strong, but those that will endure." He had this tattooed across his chest and as I watched him in his coma, I would stare at this and pray. Because I needed something to focus on when I couldn't be at his bedside, I had "There is always hope" tattooed on my right forearm (I am right handed) so that I could constantly look at that and back myself away from the emotional edge.

To mark his recovery, as soon as he comes home I am going to get a skull with a bunch of butterflies and birds flying away from it to denote his rebirth and how he cheated death. I think I am going to get the skull on my shoulder blade and then have the butterflies and birds go across to and over the opposite shoulder.

Si on September 26, 2013:

" Death is freedom "

Tedi on August 31, 2013:

A lot of dreams... One purpose!

ellie on August 04, 2013:

for Lydia: Hey, i have been thinking about a tattoo for myself because of my self harming, i thought of

-"all things must pass, this too must pass"

"there are no regrets in life, only lessons"

"faith" on my wrist (cliche i know)

" happiness can be found in even the darkest of places, if one only remembers to turn on the light"- around my wrist like a bracelet- that quote's from Harry Potter, Spoken by Albus Dumbledore (I Know, im a geek)... hope this gives you some inspiration :)

Jemima on July 10, 2013:


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Do you have a tattoo of an ex that's been haunting you since a breakup? Or perhaps you had one done on a whim, on holiday, and the minute you stepped off the plane you regretted it? Whatever the reason, we can help you get rid of that tatt!

Please get in touch if this sounds like you. Ideally looking for a female, aged between 19-55, must be willing to share before and after images, head shot and be interviewed by a journalist.

Alex on July 04, 2013:

Seamos realistas, pidamos lo imposible

Harley on June 23, 2013:

Love me the most when I deserve it least. for it is when I need it most

thomas on June 22, 2013:


My dad left me when I was 3months old and I have not seen or heard from him since and now I am 25. I have no intention of looking for him but my childhood has been rocked from time to time with my new step dad. If anyone can help with a saying regarding childhood and growing up that would be amazing??

Leah on February 21, 2013:

I just had a baby boy and need ideas on how would i get his name tatted on me I also have a daughter I have her named tatted between death before dishonor but there is no room for his name I need something just like that quote can anybody help me

Bett G8S on February 19, 2013:

Those who are always getting burned and hammered upon in life, are the strongest ...for the mightiest strength can only come from being forged

Sortimo on January 19, 2013:

Give every Day the Chance to be the Best of your Life-

life is the moment now

We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams

let's runaway and dont' ever look back

Peace begins with a Smile

yaritza on January 16, 2013:


Brad on January 09, 2013:

Strength; Its what comes from the madness we survive.

Hannah on January 08, 2013:

I was hit by a car and broke my femur over the summer. I want a tattoo that relates to that. it was a dodge Durango so I thought maybe something to do with that but now I just want a quote on the side of my hip regarding it. Any ideas?

Erick on December 28, 2012:

a small quote that fits across my chest

Erick on December 28, 2012:

I am an amateur boxer going fight in march i love to fight when sparring partner give me a war i love it makes me feel like i overcame a very difficult obstacle i want a quote that can relate to boxing cause i want to get it tatted on me next week for my fight any ideas?

rooomms on December 18, 2012:

"Your past is not your enemy" i think it's a very inspirational quote. And to justin; i hope you change "then" to "than" otherwise it would be kinda weird.

Connie on December 05, 2012:

"Free Spirit"

ashley on December 02, 2012:

"give me strength when I'm standing and faith when I fall"

Ciera on December 01, 2012:

i want to get a tattoo on the side of my foot where the arch of it is but i can't decide which saying i want : Stay strong, make them wonder how you're still smiling . or . no one heals without a struggle. i can't choose !!

taylor on November 30, 2012:

my favourite quotes are:

"live life for the moment because everything else is uncertain"

"live life, have fun and be a but mischevious"

and my favourite song lyric is:

"spread your wings" from wings by little mix

cindy on November 24, 2012:

Hello am cindy

Your love spell has huge powers! I cant believe what's happening to me! It's been only 3 weeks since you did that spell and Victor is already after me. Since the last week-end he phoned at least 5 times. I believe he seems to realize his mistakes. It's absolutely happening as you said!! Thank you! Your work is helping me so much… Without you I would feel so lonely and miserable... Thank you!

Lydia on November 23, 2012:

I've been looking for a quote for a tattoo for a while now, I'm 16 in a few months and planning on getting it for my birthday. I've had a real hard life so far and the last few year have been hard, which has caused me to self harm and I now have scars on my wrist, I was thinking of getting "You will never be alone."rapped around my wrist to show that even though I feel alone right now, that I'm not..

Amber on November 01, 2012:

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be"

gev on October 31, 2012:

myeeeeeeeeeer myaaaaaa myeer myeer

any good?

Lorna on October 25, 2012:

I'm looking for a quote just about my mere existence really and the wonder and magnitude of everything that surrounds me so I thought about the obvious

'Cogito Ergo Sum' - I think therefore I am

but I'm not sure if that's meaningful enough for me.

I'm just looking for idea really. I think I'd like it in small script on the left side of my ribcage so it can't be too big

shorty on October 24, 2012:

I have " One life One chance on 1 arm & " Love & Mayhem " on the other

Rae on October 11, 2012:

The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.

~Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, 1996

bellasmama733 on October 10, 2012:

I have been through so much in this past year. I got pregnant in August of 2011 by my boyfriend of almost 3 years and about 1 month or 2 after he went out cheated on me and then came home and beat me. Squeezing my throat so tight making me black out (yes while I was 2 months pregnant). He had hit me before but never severely...I still have a lot to fight for but my daughter who was born May 2012 TRULY SAVED MY LIFE! I never woulda left if it wasn't for her! I want to get a tattoo of her footprints and I want to add a pretty girly something that symbolizes life saver and quote! She will know that I am forever grateful! Any suggestions PLEASE I'm stuck and I'm going to get my tattoo within the month.

stacey on October 09, 2012:

hi there, had a few hard years recently been in tweo voilent relationships where i came out it stronger but was depressed for a long time. i am now a outgoing, bubly person and full of life love going out and livinf life to the full. I suffered enough for 7 years now i want to show them i won.. can anyone help me out with a quote to show i came out it smiling and i won against them but also to show who i am now thanks guys..!!!!!

Carlzburg1985 on October 09, 2012:

Hi I just moved 3 states away from where I grew up n where all my family n friends are because it was unsafe for me to be there anymore due to my ex.

I had to leave as he was verbally abusive, would grab n push me etc.

I wanted to get a short saying or quote under my boob or rib representing being strong n moving on, starting a new life, believing in myself, that I can make it, love life, being free any suggestions

Plz email

Lauren on September 30, 2012:

hey, I'm 17 years old turning 18 in april anyway i wanted to get my seccond tattoo ( my first being a twisted staff of music notes going up my side as i love playing th guitar) to be a quote i have no idea what id like it to be. My stepfather who has always been like my real father wants to get a matching one and id like it to be a saying for the both of us to show how much we love eachother like family any suggestions email me

callum18forearm on September 30, 2012:

my 18th birthday is coming up and i want my fist tattoo, i want a quote down my right forearm but have no idea what to get. Anybody have any ideas plz comment with my name in it so i know if you are replying to me or not :) thanks alot

Daniel on September 07, 2012:

Im thinking of geting a tatto.. like the one in picture 11.. I would probably get a diferent text with that design. Does anyone know any good tatto places to get it done? in the new york and new jersey area ?

Cristina on September 01, 2012:

I'm 19 and i'm getting this quote as my first tat on my side:

"I will not be broken, I do not need saving. I am strong"

It's just something i made up because of everything i've been through and yet i'm still here fighting...

carlos on August 31, 2012:


asdasd on August 29, 2012:


daffy on August 27, 2012:

Im Proper Gaay !!!!

Ashers on August 23, 2012:

an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind

burt on August 18, 2012:

Rob - do not have this tattoo - it will only ever remind you of the lowest point of your life ! it will take you there in years to come.

you will make sense of this period , come to terms and eventually be happy - when you are get a tattoo

good luck mate

Rob on August 12, 2012:

Hi, my wife recently left me out of no where after 4 years, and only 2 weeks after, she was already hooking up with another man. This has devastated me, she was my life. I like to write my feelings down when I'm sad or whatever, this is what came out.

"The words of a woman you once loved, now fall hollow to the floor of pain. The belief that she instilled in you years ago, now left to rot in your chest, where your heart once happily rested. The pain, the treachery, her selfishness, is all that remains, and will forever remind me...Trust no b****"

Its pretty long, but its going on my back. I do not mean to offend anybody, if you've ever been wronged by the person you loved, you'll understand. This can also be tweaked for a woman in the same position. Any thoughts or suggestions please email

Jonathan on July 28, 2012:

Hi, I have been wanting to get a quote tattooed on my arm for about 2 years now. It was a quote I heard in a film but I cant remember the film and I was wondering if you could help me. The quote goes something along the lines of

"The defining moments of your life are always the hardest" or something like that which relates to me loosing my father when I was 13. If you could help me it would be great my email is

Annette on July 24, 2012:

"Even the best fall down sometimes."

"No man alive knows the struggles i've survived"

"If it's worth the risk, take the fall. And if it's what you want, it's worth it all."

Adam on July 20, 2012:

I'm looking for a quote it can be short or long but something to show my strength of losing my grandpa, my family falling apart, and me losing my family

You can email me ideas at

dassa on July 20, 2012:

"Av' it!"

melanie on July 20, 2012:

hi im new here... any help pls... thinking of another tattoo...a quote one... ive been hurt so much in my past that im still cannot trust and afraid.. i cant find happiness in my life ... any help pls :((

Matthew on July 18, 2012:

The one I want is "Never regret anything because at one time it was exactly what you wanted"

Bree. on July 17, 2012:

Im a 17 year old who had an abortion at 16.

I would like a tattoo in memory of what could have been.

Something too say it will never be forgotten, but to show the strength i had to go through with it.

Please Help.

shaneD on July 14, 2012:

Hi I am 21 year old guy who loves sport and am quiet talented, but suffer a lot from a knee injury. I just had an operation and am having rehab, I want a tattoo to symbolise injury won't stop me or something that says to never give up? really need something inspiring to get me through the long road ahead of me to recovery!!I would deeply appreciate any suggestions my email is

lexi on July 12, 2012:

I've had depression and have been through very challenging times. I want a small tattoo on my wrist. A quote about strength and courage. something unique. email me!

Azza on July 12, 2012:

Hey guys, I just got my ribs done with two hands holding a rosary bead and i want to get a quote running along side of the hand from the left hand to the right.

I Want a quote that relates to

family (in general)


some like that your family will love you no matter what and there will be hard times and some good times. is my email

would really appreciate some suggestions

Olee on July 10, 2012:

Life handled me with bad cards

I play with what i've got

dan on July 08, 2012:

Do you think we are all looking for a philosophy or phrase to follow that will make our unforfilling lives better?

do we really need to then write this on our skin?

just a thought

Darkoviath on July 07, 2012:

never look on the bad things in life cause everything that has happend has made you what you are today

Don't learn to hate Yourself you learn to love Yourself

just some i know i'm getting the second on on my chest

BMC on June 30, 2012:

War doesn't determine who is right, only who is left.

LTFC on June 30, 2012:


Nicole on June 27, 2012:

my grandmother whom i have been living with for the past 6 months is now dying of cancer. The doctors say there is nothing more they can do, i want to get a tattoo to remind me to be strong and courageous. i want something sentimental that i think she'd love, Any ideas? email them to

Ace on June 22, 2012:

just heard a great quote - "we were never loosing, just learning to win"

dan on June 22, 2012:

Deja - very sorry to hear of your loss

Cheryl on June 21, 2012:

I have a tattoo on the side of my indexfinger it says ''love'' in spanish and a sentence on my collarbone: Enjoy the ride...

deja on June 20, 2012:

lots of stories I read inspired me. Im 19 never had a tattoo never even thought about it until my mother unexpectedly died of a blood clot that cause a massive stroke a little over a month ago. She was always so full of life and tried to get me to be the same way. Im trying to loosen up and live life like she tried to teach me while here on earth. I was thinking of getting a tattoo that says....

My deepest sorrow is my most precious savior

Let me know what yall think please

breed on June 17, 2012:

tazz - dont worry be happy

tazz on June 16, 2012:

i had a difficult childhood and didn't really connect with my parents.... i kind of hate my life...

PLEASE ! suggest a quote or something ..

Thanks .

themiddling on June 13, 2012:

The gutter/stars one is commonly misquoted. The original quote is by Oscar Wilde:

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Lord Darlington, Act III

buv on June 10, 2012:

@irish harry,

how about, - 'my head needs to shrink'

Sean penney on June 03, 2012:

Live to love love to live

irish harry on June 02, 2012:

im a 23 year old irish man,i left home when i was 17..and has work lived and traveled in the uk,australia and new zealand at present.iv fought when my heart told me too,im brave,fearless but a loving and warm character at the same time,iv been through hell twice and back again and its amazing how the mind works,iv done it all alone,but yet im a peoples person!iv learnt the lessons of life and at the minute im learning all about who i am..can someone give me a quote that stands out that marks how big my heart is and how strong the mind is??:)

larsen on May 31, 2012:

The strength that I find when I dig deep inside

Got me still in this fight, and I’ll be the last man standing!

I move when my heart say move, Fierce like a lion ,Got nothing to prove

We acquire the strength we have overcome.

How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?

no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending

If you're going through hell, keep going

scott86 on May 30, 2012:

'All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.'

Its from Blade Runner, but i want it translated into Latin so it would read:

'in omnibus momentis peribit sicut pluvia in lacrimis'

brooksmatthew38@yahoo.comksmatth on May 30, 2012:

Death is easy but life is hard it will leave you physically,mentally,and emotionally scarred

brooksmatthew38@yahoo.comksmatth on May 30, 2012:

Death is easy but life is hard it will leave you physically,mentally,and emotionally scarred

Lily on May 29, 2012:

Here is a Latin Saying

Veni, Vidi, Vici.

It means I came, I saw, I conquered.

It's one of my favorite sayings.

fay on May 29, 2012:

Hi guys, i am thinking of having a tatto with my familys names... do you have any ideas for quotes abous family or maybe life... but from someone famous.. eg: Oscar wild or something!! thanks aaa lot!! please e-mail..

Samantha on May 28, 2012:

Hi, i need someone to design a tattoo for me as my tattooist let me down. i know exactly what i want and have pictures. Please let me know,

Thank you!

justin on May 26, 2012:

"The Strongest Stand Alone" or "I'd Rather Die On My Feet Then Live On My Knees" what do you think

Mary on May 25, 2012:

I need ideas or quotes that explain a hurtful and painful past, yet you overcame it and you're stronger. It needs to me meaningful. Not some quote that everyone knows. It needs to be deep. but not too long. thanks! email me @

jamie on May 22, 2012:

hi guys my son was born with cerebal palsy and i was looking for something to get on my arm for him? please emailme if u have any ideas

Rodriguez on May 21, 2012:

Hi, I'm almost 16 and I'm thinking about 2 tattoos that I want.

The first one is something with my uncle; he was the greatest influence in my life and he died of lung cancer..

My second one would be something about my family and how we've stuck together no matter what. They mean everything to me and I want them to know that..

If you know any quotes, message me @

Laurie on May 21, 2012:

true, i really dont want something that gives me strength and courage, not only because of whats happened recently but because i naturally am a very insecure person who dosent believe in myself, i'd like something that says things that is positive and i can look at and smile, not necessarily to help me get over my heartache, more to realise im strong and can do whatever i want to do x

zed on May 21, 2012:

it means dont have a permanent reminder of a bad time in your life. every time you look at that tattoo for the next 30 years you be taken back to the dark place your in now. you will get over the heartbreak - get a tattoo that when your happy x

J on May 21, 2012:

I came up with...

"Intuition Guides My Soul"

Laurie on May 21, 2012:

I also like the saying 'after every storm there is a rainbow' but dont think its a latin quote, but wanted something alnog those lines

Laurie on May 20, 2012:

thanks for that Zed, what does it mean?

zed on May 20, 2012:


Harpes lycrierium obendintis

says it all

Honest on May 19, 2012:

"Never Count The Days, Make The Days Count" basically make the most of everything that comes your way, i need a good quote, help please

Laurie on May 18, 2012:

Im really hoping someone can help me, im looking for an inspirational quote or saying preferably in latin that I can have across my forearm (so not too long)ive just split from a long term relationship(the father of my 2 children) and found out hes moved on to someone else, needless to say im heartbroken. i want a short quote that basically means to be strong, have courage and see theres light at the end of the tunnel, something i can look at which gives me hope and the strength to carry on, any help will be really appreciated! x

dan on May 17, 2012:

Here I am, the rabbit hearted boy frozen in the lights.

I must become the Lion hearted man ready for the fight.

dsa on May 17, 2012:

@Manveet - what do?

Manveet on May 16, 2012:

they look a bit horrible

hi hun me again on May 15, 2012:

i wont abandon hope

hope wont abandon me

for ollie on May 15, 2012:

hi hun its andy........... live for 2day hope for 2morrow

Michaela on May 13, 2012:

jill how about everyone is perfect in there own way ?

Ollie on May 11, 2012:

Hey everyone, im quite young at the moment but im looking for my first tattoo, my mum was diagnosed with cancer a couple of months ago and im looking for a tat to represent what she is/ will have gone through. i was thinking something like 'Keep On Fighting' but im not sure if it will look right. i want it on my forearm/wrist area and it will be quite small. any ideas???

theville740 on May 09, 2012:

everything I'm not made me everything I am

isla on May 09, 2012:

What do you think this quote:

"Make the best of everytime life"

Jaclyn Popola (author) from Florida on May 07, 2012:

@Roxanne - I sincerely congratulate you on reaching your one year anniversary of being sober! It certainly isn't an easy to do, and not everyone can achieve that milestone. I have seven years clean from my drug of choice (heroin) and I relish every moment that I am alive. If you're like me, you probably have a million books, poems, and songs that symbolize your struggle. I think it'd be cool to pick a line or lyric from one of them.

You could also check out my other hub, which speaks to the topic of sobriety in particular:

There are some good quote ideas on that one as well. Congratulations again and good luck.

dimplesponge on May 07, 2012:

mea karma cucurrit mea dogma