Well, apologies to any disapproving family/friends out there, because today I popped my tattoo cherry! I have been wanting to get a tattoo for quite a few years now, but have always baulked at the last moment due to the glaringly obvious risk with it – its permanence.
But, having thought long and hard about it, and mused on the reasons why I want to get one, I have realised that it’s the permanence that is a significant part of the draw. Getting a tattoo requires a huge commitment to a decision, a confidence and belief in your convictions, and a certain amount of dare-devil attitude; all of which are qualities that I would like to nurture in myself. Without permanence, the procedure loses its personal impact, and such qualities would become redundant.
On a more flippant level, I am very much of the ‘try everything once’ approach (although would perhaps modify to the slightly less rash ‘try everything that you like the sound of once’), and I felt it was a new experience to be had – to know what it feels like to have the needle probe your skin and what it’s like to be a client at a tattoo parlour, and to briefly dip into this whole sub-culture, rich with artistic passion.
I’m also fascinated by human stereo-types and love how it confuses people when the criteria don’t quite add-up. We like to be able to immediately assign people to pre-determined categories, based on a whole raft of things such as appearance, job, accent, age, home, family, religion etc. Tattoos are by their nature a visual statement, and are therefore likely to form a key part in this initial assessment of a person, helping to stick them in the appropriate box. I myself am completely guilty of this – for example, I ironically felt my usual shyness on seeing the heavily tattooed and pierced receptionist in the parlour today – she intimidated me with her in-your-face visual statement, and I automatically assigned her to the ‘potentially a bit scary and a bit too cool for me’ box. Clearly nonsense, but we just can’t stop these auto-assessments.
Anyway, my point is that I don’t think I’m someone that people would necessarily expect to get a tattoo, having always been a very wholesome, well-behaved kind of girl, and it feels good to be shaking things up a bit in my own neck of the woods, even if my tattoo is quite a small, wholesome and hopefully well-behaved one (a fern rather than a skull and cross-bones). Or of course it may just be something as simple as a delayed teen rebellion or early mid-life crisis, wrapped up in cod-philosophising!
As for the experience itself – it was how I imagined: a gruff but very diligent artist, an unpleasant sensation of hundreds of needles stabbing me for around half an hour (which was actually happening) and a sense of euphoria afterwards. I wanted to proclaim to the world that I HAVE A TATTOO NOW! But seeing as most of the people in that particular area of town had more ink on their body than untouched skin, this felt rather inappropriate, and I managed to contain my excitement to a knowing smile.
As I look at my new back in the mirror fortunately I like what I see, and am gratified that I drew my own design in the end – it does feel very personal to me. For better or for worse, this tattoo is now a part of me, and we will steer life’s chaotic course together from now on… 🙂
My back this morning:
My back for ever more: