Six Things I Learned from Getting My First Tattoo

I’ve known exactly what I wanted for my first tattoo but waited six whole years to get it...so here’s six things I learned from finally getting my first tattoo.

  1. You need to remember that it's your body

    When I knew that it was time to get my tattoo, I struggled with how I was going to tell my family. I dreaded it because I thought my family wouldn’t let me. But after thinking more on it, I reminded myself that I am about to be 21 this month. This body is mine and I deserve to do what I want with it. Not only is getting a tattoo an exercise in responsibility, it’s exerting your control over your body and your life. When I ultimately told my family, I was sure not to ask permission because what I needed was their understanding not their permission.                                                                            (Not my tattoo)

  2. Some people won’t support your decision

    This seems like an obvious one but I really didn’t expect this. I’ve wanted my tattoo for awhile and it was so tiny, I really didn’t expect much resistance. However, multiple people in my life were heartbroken at my decision and some even cried. This was almost enough to guilt me into forgetting about the tattoo entirely, but I reminded myself it was my choice (see number 1!)

  3. Other people will be beyond excited for you

    For every person who hates the idea of you getting a tattoo, there will be three more people who will be cheering you on. They’ll ask you what tattoo artist you’re going to, what studio, what size, what colors and everything else you can think of. They will even offer to accompany you to your appointment! Some might even try to convince you to get a bigger tattoo or a matching one with them. This support is important because it means a lot to get to share your excitement with others. 

  4. You have to speak up to your tattoo artist

    When I went to get my tattoo, the artist printed out a stencil and put it on my hand. He asked if it was how I wanted it and I politely nodded. Now when it comes to strangers, I am most definitely a pushover. If restaurants get my order wrong, I eat what they gave me. If the woman who cuts my hair cuts it a little too short and uneven, I still smile and thank her. I think it comes from me valuing not being an inconvenience to strangers more than I value my own satisfaction from these experiences. When I was getting my tattoo, I had to break away from this habit. I noticed that where he placed the stencil was way lower than the location I wanted for my tattoo that I envisioned for years. I only politely nodded because the stencil was already on my hand and I did not want to inconvenience the artist or make him do extra work. But my gut told me I needed to speak up and tell my artist my concerns. Sure enough, as most good tattoo artists will do, he relocated the stencil which eased my concerns. I was so close to having something on my body for the rest of my life in a location I did not want just because I wanted to be polite. If you’re planning a tattoo, you need to put what you want first and the tattoo artist should definitely understand.

  5. Eat food and drink water beforehand!

    I asked my friends who had gotten tattoos for advice before I got mine. They told me to eat and drink water before I went. I am really glad I did. However, while my artist was completing the tattoo I still felt lightheaded and dizzy from all the pain. I’m so happy that I did eat and drink water before my appointment because I definitely would’ve felt worse if I hadn’t!

  6. You will love your tattoo

    I have wanted my tattoo for so long that seeing it actually on my hand makes me so happy. I don't think I ever realized just how much I wanted it until I finally saw it on my body. It means so much to me and I am so excited to show it off. Regardless if people hate it or like it, the important thing to remember is that it is for you. I am incredibly happy with my new tattoo. I couldn’t be more proud of my decision and that’s what matters. Ultimately, the only opinion of my tattoo that matters is mine and I love it!