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Let’s all be honest — sooner or later, that one friend of yours might finally convince you to get the tattoo you’ve always wanted. For me, it all started when my roommate got her first tattoo in June of 2017. It’s a near-death experience for me whenever I get a flu shot, so a tattoo was a certain pain I thought I would never be able to bear. The thought of having a needle pressed to my skin for more than five minutes was terrifying, but I also envied the meanings behind people’s tattoos. Deep down inside, I really wanted one.

After pressing my roommate with a million questions, I got my first-ever tattoo in New York City on June 24, 2017. In a little tattoo parlor in Greenwich Village, I got the Twenty One Pilots logo tattooed on my wrist in commemoration of photographing a show on their Tour De Columbus tour. Just a little advice: never get a tattoo in Manhattan unless you want to end up paying $100 for three little lines, like I did. Nonetheless, I walked into the parlor with so much adrenaline I was close to passing out, but thankfully my dad went with me and he got me pumped up to get it. And yes, he got his first tattoo with me as well (#DadGoals). As my once pure skin was being prepped to be permanently altered with the Twenty One Pilots logo, I slipped my earphones in and ironically started playing Imagine Dragons. I didn’t even get halfway through the song before I realized it was done, just like that. All these fears I had going in my mind were meaningless because I ended up not feeling anything and became overjoyed with my little reminder now on my arm.

Just one month later, I was back in a tattoo parlor in Jacksonville, Florida, getting my second tattoo with my two roommates. After the positive outcome of my previous tattoo, I knew I wanted another one. Since I have lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains practically my whole life, I wanted something to remind me of home while I was in Florida for college. Unfortunately, the second time was not the best; actually it was probably the worst physical pain I have ever experienced in my life. I decided to get a tattoo of the mountains on the inside of my ankle, which unlike the tattoo artist informed me of, is one of the worst places to get a tattoo because of the lack of thick skin in that area. I endured five minutes of constant stabbing into my ankle, and after it was over, I started getting light-headed and had to have my roommates drive us home. Through the pain, I was still extremely over-joyed at my new tattoo. The  only other downside was that I was spending the next week at the beach and I couldn’t even go in the water the whole time.

My final escapade for another tattoo ended at Bodytech tattoo shop in Gainesville after a night out with my roommate. Being that I wasn’t going to see my parents for at least a month, I knew I was in the clear when it came to getting scolded by them. Fortunately, my favorite tattoo was the least painful, the cheapest and I was a lot less nervous and more excited to get a commemoration to my favorite band, Imagine Dragons. On my left forearm, I have the words “Night Visions” written in the lead singer’s handwriting. Night Visions was the first album released by the band and I can’t even explain how the meaning of every lyric in that album has impacted my life and pulled me through the darkest of days.

If you are as nervous and undecided like I was when I received my first tattoo, I urge you to just do it. You are only young once and have only one life to do whatever you want, so you might as well do it in college where you are surrounded with a diverse and non-judgmental atmosphere.

While you are pondering over the decision, I have a few tips for your first time being tattooed:

1. Always do your research before you ever step foot into a tattoo parlor.

There are countless stories of people getting tattoos in unsafe places that led them to develop medical conditions. Check reviews online and if you know anyone who’s gotten a tattoo before, ask them where they got theirs and if they had a pleasant experience getting it.

2. Never pay more than $40 for a tattoo for the size of a quarter.

You may think this is an odd piece of advice, but you would be surprised at how tattoo artists can basically rip you off for a small tattoo (I paid $100 in NY for three little lines, yes, I know I’m an idiot).

3. Just breathe.

Getting a tattoo is definitely not as bad as some people explain it to be. You are not going to die from the pain, but you may have to toughen up just a little.

4. Don’t get something you’ll regret later.

If you are even the slightest intoxicated, never even think about getting a tattoo because it will most likely be something you would never want permanently written on your skin.

5. Finally, embrace the beautiful artwork you have.

Many people (including parents) may be harsh towards tattoos, but it is YOUR body and you can do whatever you want to it. Never let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do.

If you have the itch to get that first tattoo now that I may have persuaded you, I recommend going to BodyTech right here in Gainesville! I am forever grateful for each reminder I have permanently embedded on my skin and can’t wait to (maybe) get more tattoos in the future.

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