6 Things to Think About Before Getting a Tattoo

I got my first tattoo when I was 17, and almost got kicked out of my house for it. I’m not sure if this phase was specific to my age group or every batch of juniors and seniors in high school become obsessed with the idea of tattoos, but it seemed like everyone at that age was itching for ink.

After I got my first tattoo and my parents eventually got over it, after a literal formal power point presentation and months of actual begging, I convinced my parents to let me get my second when I was 18. Of course, my mother waited until after I got this one to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to get anymore until I moved out.

When I was 17, 18, 19, I was incredibly jealous of the kids whose parents let them get every tattoo and piercing they wanted. At 24 I couldn’t be more grateful that my parents made me wait.

I actually still like and am proud of the tattoos I got when I was an idiotic teenager. But I’m a minority in that respect.

I’d be lying if I said that at least some small part of my desire to get tattoos when I was in high school wasn’t driven by something that I thought was cool and trendy. But even then, I picked things that meant something to me. I’m not so sure if the people that got clouds, stars and cheetah print tattoos the second they turned 18 can say the same. And if I had been able to get every single tattoo that I thought I wanted at 18 I’m sure I’d regret it by now.

But there was one tattoo that I knew I still wanted to get after my second one, and six years later I still wanted it. And finally, I got it.

Before anyone gets a tattoo, I would encourage them to sit on it for six months. This is somewhat of an arbitrary number because I didn’t use it in my own life, but that’s when people say that romantic relationships start getting real and when you should know whether or not you love a person. I’d guess that by then you’d also know if you are serious about a tattoo or not.

Get something that means something to you. The idea of getting a tattoo just to say you have one is moronic. If you have to pick something out of a book, you shouldn’t be getting a tattoo.

If your tattoos are visible, people are going to constantly ask you what they mean. They’re just curious, but you’re going to get annoyed. Or maybe I just have an extremely low threshold for being annoyed. Either way, if the meaning behind your tattoo is extremely personal or takes a while to explain, I’d prepare a few short version answers.

People that got pregnant when they were 16 and smoke like engines are going to ask you if you know that tattoos are, like, forever. So are kids and the effects of tobacco. But tattoos won’t make you fat or turn your teeth yellow.

People will judge you for your tattoos. They’ll also judge you for every other decision you make, and that’s their prerogative. Welcome to life. Take off your shoes, make yourself at home.

Tattoos don’t make you special. You know those people that pride themselves on listening to obscure underground music, and how insufferable they are whenever their favorite artists go mainstream? You don’t want to become the person that only got a tattoo because they thought it was edgy and feels like other people getting tattoos somehow negatively impacts them. You should do things because you like them, not because you think they make you ~different~. If you’re just getting a tattoo because you want to stand out in some way, you’re making a mistake.




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