They’re marks of my life, what I’ve gone through to get somewhere …

Don’t bother checking the calendar; I assure you, it’s still 2016.

We have the capacity to put a human on Mars, will soon allow cars to drive anywhere on their own, and a woman (for better or worse) is going to be President of the United States of America for the first time in its 240 year existence. We’ve come so far as a species, yet at the same time, we’ve gone nowhere at all.

To this day, people continue to care so much about others’ appearances they’ll physically go out of their way to make a scene about it. At least that’s my perspective, because I still spend much of my life in public being stared at and gawked in not-so-subtle ways by people with a differing concept of reality.

I’ve written about my tattoos before: Why I got them, what they mean (hint: not much) and why the history of the industry matters. At this point, the majority of my generation has them, so it isn’t anything taboo to do so. It’s trendy. I’m trendy.

Even still, there are looming opinions about marking one’s own body. It isn’t just the religious zealots offering up discontent either; it’s everyone from the left and the right, young and old, ugly and beautiful.

It’s never bothered me much before, but now that I have a daughter I hang out with often, I’m worried it might shape her view of what people actually are.

She’s 3 years old, and is quite literally the most beautiful thing on the planet. I don’t feel like there’s much bias there, it’s truth. Facts 101. We’re best friends, and go on adventures when her mother is at work. This past weekend, I took her down to the North Pole — a Christmas-themed amusement park for kids outside of Colorado Springs, Colo., tucked deep in the beautiful mountainside of Pikes Peak.

We stopped for breakfast before we got there, a few miles south of the Focus on the Family headquarters. It’s a part of town where women wear thick, ankle-length denim skirts and men look like they’ve been ripped out of Bible fantasy lore. Trump signs line the highway and American flags or “Don’t Tread on Me” bumper stickers are posted en masse.

At this particular spot we stopped at, a large type of church service was being held right there in the middle of it. It was their version of a neighborhood gang, protecting their turf. By all accounts, it’s a frightening part of town.

My kid knows the people in her city. Regardless of how “salad-like” we want to pretend this country is, it isn’t. Like things migrate towards like things — that’s nature. People in Denver vary from the people in Colorado Springs, and both act worlds differently than the appropriate social behaviors on the east coast. Don’t believe me? Travel. You’ll learn quick.

But she doesn’t know people from Colorado Springs, or more importantly, the loud minority of religious conservatives that hold a lot of hate in their heart and bigotry in their subconscious. Immediately as we walked in, a man greeted her with a smile, he looked like Santa, she didn’t mind him one bit.

But as he saw my hand in hers, completely tattooed from knuckles up, he glared and went about his way. I smiled, as I often do, but felt the cold shoulder of resentment. I didn't have the right gang attire on to fit in. It’s a familiar feeling to me, but not to her. I looked down. Thankfully the frosted baked goods behind the counter were consuming her eyes away from the exchange.

We bought what we wanted and sat down. Two older ladies complimented my daughter on her orange glasses, and later for her impeccable manners. We’ve taught her to be polite, considerate of others. “Everyone is different,” I always tell her. “That’s what makes life so fun.”

But I caught the women staring at me throughout our breakfast, motioning to friends up and down their arms and mouthing the word “tattoo” to each other. I couldn’t tell whether the interaction was positive or negative, but I assumed the latter. Just think, maybe I gave them hope that us social rejects would raise a better generation than our own. Maybe it was some good I did. Who knows.

Breakfast isn’t an isolated incident, either. At least with my daughter, I have living, breathing proof right next to me that tattoos don’t change the person on the inside. Her walking next to me is validation of that, that I can do it, that I have done it. That I’m the best at it. But when I’m alone, I’m often treated as the same punk kid I was when I was 14 years old — a dirty skater who is probably going to steal things and graffiti the bathrooms.

Especially in Boulder, where I work. It’s an area always touting itself as America’s “most progressive” city. I assure you, there’s nothing special about it. There are hardly any people of color, it treats its homeless population like the scum of Earth and every right you think you should have, you don’t. There are hippies, sure, but they’re the kind of hippies that only turned as such when they banked a few million wearing suits and now pretend to enjoys things like Phish, low dose edibles and kombucha.

Hell, I love kombucha and weed, I’m one of them. But not with tattoos. To the judging few, I’m an outcast, apparently deserving of foul looks and inappropriate comments. To be fair, this isn’t the majority of people here that does so, but there are enough of them it becomes apparent a problem with the standards exists.

Being treated this way has only been a slight annoyance of mine since the day I turned 18, when I got my first tattoo on my forearm. It was the 2000s, and visible ink wasn’t yet a thing. From then on, I dealt with it, often putting it to the back of my mind without so much as a thought. I learned to not let it get to me, the bigotry, the abject disapproval of strangers.

All those years of experiences were pivotal in my understanding of what black Americans go through, however. I can’t be indignant at the years of awful glares, security profiling and inane questions about why I did it or if it hurt. Because as I see it, I’m fortunate enough to only garner about 1/100 of what people of color go through. And I can put on a jacket and mostly avoid it. They can’t. That’s their life. My public shortcomings have given me a higher understanding of the real world. It’s made me less of a shitty person.

Which is what I hope my daughter will be able to look toward as she gets older. One day, she’ll notice Santa giving me the side-eye, or old women poking fun of her hero because he likes skulls, Japanese artistry and remembering his pit-bull by having a dog's portrait on him at all times.

They’re marks of my life, what I’ve gone through to get somewhere. She’ll understand that, because I’ll tell her all about it when she asks.

But I hope it doesn’t make her as cynical as I am. Even though I’ll rarely admit to it, I somewhat believe there are great people out there, that don’t care about personal fashion decisions so much as what character a person acts on each day. I’ll do my best to steer her towards the greater types, away from toxicity that will forever plague the country.

That’s all I can hope for. That’s all I can do.

We’ve made large strides as a people, yet still have an incredibly long journey to go.