Thinking of Getting a Tattoo? Here's How My Experience Can Help You

When people find out I have a tattoo, they usually respond in one of two ways: appreciating the art that I chose to put on my body or questioning whether I made the right decision. The latter will always be an inescapable annoyance that I have to deal with over the small amount of ink on my arm. 

The most common questions I get from people who don’t approve of my tattoo are:

  1. You know that's permanent right?
  2. Have you considered what that will look like when you get older?
  3. How mad were your parents when you got one?

To answer these questions:

  1. I got it because I wanted a permanent reminder to help me get through life.
  2. I placed it on the middle of my bicep because (I hope) that it won’t change much as I age, but if it does, then that is an interesting proof of my evolution.
  3. I understand that some parents are very against them, but I was lucky enough to have parents that are more than supportive of them (my mom happens to love my tattoo more than me). 

I had first known that I was going to get a tattoo when I was a freshman in high school. The idea of having a permanent, meaningful piece of art on me was attractive to my sentimental self. I started looking into what sort of design I wanted and found I had just one main criteria: it had to be meaningful to who I was. 

Latin is the root of all romance languages. Understanding even just the basics of Latin can help someone understand over five sets of languages in South America and Europe. For me, having a tattoo in Latin symbolized the multitudinous meanings and applications that such a permanent message can mean to me. 

Once I chose the language I wanted, I looked for meanings that were important to me as well as aesthetically pleasing (to please my shallower side). My initial tattoo desire was “Se vis amari, ama,” which means “If you wish to be loved, love.” Now this beautiful saying was pretty on the eyes, and the ears when I would explain the idea, but it didn’t represent everything that I am. I finally decided on “Lux in tenebris,” which translates to “Light in darkness.” Not only was I able to find a saying that meant a lot to me, the phrase is applicable to every aspect of my life. 

Photo courtesy of the author, Rebecca Scheldrup

For me, getting this inspirational saying permanently placed on the inside of my left bicep was the best decision I ever made. Even though it is just a small line in cursive on my skin, the idea of the tattoo helps me to understand that yes, life is hard, but I will always get through it. 

For people who are interested in my tattoo, some common questions they have are how much it hurt, how much it cost, and if it was worth it. I got it on my 18th birthday and spent $120, treating myself to a birthday gift. It surprisingly wasn't that painful; it was comparable to having someone's sharp fingernails drag along your skin. 

When I am asked if it was worth it or if I have any regrets, I am so beyond in love with it that regret has never crossed my mind. 

My advice to any reader interested in getting a tattoo is do your research ahead of time, make sure the design you are getting is meaningful to you, and to not worry about what other people have to say about it. Ultimately, getting a tattoo is solely a personal decision, and the only person who has to be in love with it is you.