It’s no secret that I got my first tattoo a couple weeks ago. But what I couldn’t have known is how much emotional ebbing and flowing this tattoo would stir up in me.
The morning after getting my tattoo, I woke up in something like a hungover state. Not that I was actually hungover (lol if you think I actually partake in underage drinking. I may be tatted now, but I still don’t drink). Just that I woke up wondering what I imagine people who like to drink wonder the morning after a night of too many tequila shots: What did I do to myself?
Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely still excited to have a tattoo. But, the realization was setting in that this is not a decision I can take back. That’s incredibly scary when you’re 20. (And have a larger, darker tattoo on your arm then you had originally planned.) All day I was going through it: some points I was incredibly proud that I had actually done it, while at other points I was a little shocked that it’s actually sitting there on my arm, staring back at me.
I went through literally every decision I could have made differently. Should I have turned the tattoo to face outward, and not towards me? Should I have gotten something smaller? Should I have not gotten it filled in? This tattoo is literally going to be with me through everything now…
My real concern is being judged for it. I would be a liar if I told you that I don’t care what other people think of me, because I wholeheartedly do. And I don’t think this is a bad thing, honestly. But in this case, I worry about people judging me before allowing me the chance to show them who I am as a person. That’s kind of the thing about tattoos though, is that they allow you to show aspects of your personality more readily than you otherwise might.
When I went shopping last week, I made a realization. Two, actually.
The first was made in the Forever 21. I was standing in line to checkout, and I thought to myself that girl (the cashier) looks like someone I would be friends with. She was wearing a dark green and black flannel shirt and a Jurassic Park t-shirt underneath it. She looked somewhat like one of my best friends, if this best friend had a facial piercing. When I stepped up to the counter, she greeted me and then stared at my arm. In a tone of either disgust or admiration (I couldn’t place it at the time) she asked, “Is that… real?” I said “This?” pointing to my tattoo. She nodded. I said “Yeah, I just got it done actually.”
This girl lit up. She said “It’s fantastic. That’s why it’s so dark- it’s new. But it’s really good.”
Then we started discussing where I had it done, which is coincidentally where she had her facial piercing done. Then she showed me the tattoo she has on her shoulder of a bunch of black and white roses. It was one of the greatest interactions with a stranger I’ve ever had. And what I realized was that this tattoo is a conversation piece. It is my blue skin, as Shel Silverstein put it in the poem “Masks;” it’s a way to connect to people who I might not otherwise know I could connect with.
Secondly, this tattoo isn’t about anyone else or what they think. I did this for me. I made this decision all on my own, because I like tattoos, and particularly this one that’s helping my type this post. If anything, this tattoo reminds me that this is my body. And since it’s mine, I’ll dress it up the way I see fit, even if other people disagree with me. That’s fine; then don’t get a tattoo on your body.
Like so many things in life, just because you may not like it doesn’t mean I can’t or shouldn’t have it. That’s what this tattoo will always remind me of: that I have the freedom to be whoever I want to be and the freedom to not care what other people think of that.