While on a hike with my dog this week I decided to do something I have always sworn against.
We were barreling up a trail and I was having a moment of gratitude for the beauty around me and giving myself a pat on the back for feeling so fit and strong in my mind, body and spirit, when the urge to do this thing just hit me out of nowhere like a jolt: I want to get a tattoo.
I guess you could say I had a tattiphany.
While I have never been against the idea of a tattoo per se, there has never been anything – be it a word, phrase or image – that I wanted stamped on my being for the rest of my life. That, and the fear of a tat-gone-wrong and the possibility of regret when I change my mind about what looks good or I get old and saggy and can no longer remember why I thought this thing on my arm, back or leg was a good idea, have all kept me tattooless.
The other reason I have shied away from getting inked is that I have seen so many God awful choices on other people. Or at least that’s my opinion. If it’s one thing I’m learning about making this choice, even at my age, it’s that one must prepare to be judged.
When I tell my 40-something friends I’m considering a tattoo they roll their eyes and tell me I’ll regret it. And they might be right – a year ago I’d have reacted the same way. And of course when I bounce the idea off my younger friends they shrug, tell me I’m weird for not having one already and move on to telling me about the next ink they’re planning for. Does every single ‘adult’ under the age of 30 have a tattoo?
And that leads me to ask myself, is this some desperate grasp at youth? Am I a cliché? Am I having a peri-midlife crisis? (I plan to live well past 100.)
All I know for sure is, a tattoo can look beautiful and be meaningful to its bearer. History will show it is one way many of us adorned our bodies. Personally, my recent life experiences are what’s pointing me in this direction at this time. I don’t ever want to forget. At the end of the day it is a very personal choice.
As I do my research into the what, where and who I might allow to do this to me, I’m learning a few things for the first timers like me out there:
- don’t get drunk and get a tattoo on an impulse.
- research your tattoo artist. Not just whether they’re reputable, but also if they’re a specialist in the type of design you want.
- don’t bring kids or an entourage. One extra person is fine if you’re afraid to go alone.
- be prepared for a bit of pain and have something to eat before getting inked. (You wouldn’t want to faint.)
- the most painful parts of the body are the ribs, feet, hands and head. (Aside from the obviously most painful areas.)
- draw a rough sketch on the place on your body where you’re considering the tattoo. See how it feels to live with it for a few days.
- think hard about the what and the where. Instagram is your friend. Check out @tattoos_of_instagram, @tattooinkspiration @igtattoogirls and @tattooinkspo
- start small.
- tip your artist. 15% – 25% is about right.
- take aftercare seriously and follow the directions your artist provides.
- protect your tattoo from the sun, which will cause it to fade. Wear spf!
I’m still working out my design and placement, but it will certainly be original artwork and far from public view. And it is possible I’ll chicken out or change my mind. But I’d love to hear feedback on the good, bad and the ugly from all you tatted up readers out there.