My First Tattoo

I have one tattoo at the moment and I can only see my future self collecting more. One beautifully inked pink rose has found a home on my back. I have loved it from the moment I was able to see my tattoo artist’s idea come to life. 

When I arranged to get the tattoo, it was a split second decision. I had seen the tattoo artist’s Instagram and all of the beautiful and original flowers he had brought to life, showed my Mom his previous work, had seen that he was coming to a studio close to my hometown and that he was accepting bookings for the week he would be here, and then I proceeded to email him. This had happened all within an hour, but it had felt like it had only been a few minutes. Over the next couple of days we had agreed on a time, an approximate size of the rose, and colour. My head was spinning, but I wasn’t nervous, I was excited. I was buzzing. This was in the middle of November and I had arranged to get my tattoo in the beginning of December and nothing could stop me. This was my treat to myself after years of lovingly staring and obsessing over tattoos; this would be my celebration after receiving my first paycheck from a new job I had just received.

Tattoos were, and still are, a frequent topic of conversation for me. With friends I had dreamed about the many tattoos that I would one day get; dreamed about what a small wrist tattoo would look like on myself, imagined what my favourite quote would look like going down my arm or across my back, laughed at, but also put some serious thought into, the idea of a matching tattoo with a close friend. With my Mom, we had discussed her own tattoos and the meanings behind them. My Mom’s tattoos all came from the idea of ‘family.’ She has her maiden name on her wrist, mine and my sibling’s names on her leg, and our last name in Japanese on her back (which she jokingly says, if she ever gets divorced and remarried, she’s going to start telling people it means ‘love’ or ‘peace.’) 

When I had made the decision to commit to this flower tattoo, she hadn’t understood the concept of getting a tattoo without having a meaning behind the tattoo, but she understood me and knew that I would eventually end up with a tattoo anyways. A lot of people I have met don’t understand the idea of a having a tattoo if there’s no significant meaning. To me, tattoos are art and not every piece of art has a major significant meaning. Meaningful and meaningless tattoos, and my love of both of them, had been a regular topic from age 15 to almost 19 so my Mom was used to my opinions. She found peace in the fact that I had sort of done research, that she had friends that had gotten multiple tattoos from the tattoo shop that I would be going to, and that she genuinely loved the work of the tattoo artist I had found. 

My Dad ended up driving me to the tattoo studio in the afternoon on December 5th. From the time that I arrived to the moment I stepped out with a fresh tattoo was a blur, but I can say that there had been about a 4 hour time period between walking in the door and walking out the door. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so much in my life; December 5th will always be remembered as a day of smiles now. I had called my Dad to pick me up and told him to meet me at the nearest Starbucks. I couldn’t wait to show my Dad what I had gotten permanently placed on my back, he’s not fond of tattoos, but he understands the idea of having a piece of art attached to you; art that will forever be ‘yours.’ He genuinely liked my tattoo when he saw it, although he said it was bigger than he had thought it would have been; that’s the response I get from most people; it’s the response I got from my Mom, my siblings, friends, grandparents… Everyone that was informed of my goal to get a tattoo had assumed that I would get something smaller. I kind of like seeing the surprised look on people’s faces when they saw the size and were told the amount of time I had sat like a rock while being tortured with tiny needles. 

My tattoo, officially, still has no real meaning, and when I’m asked what it means I simply say it has no meaning. It does have some meaning to it though; attached to my tattoo are small reminders of emotions and moments that I’ve been able to fully realize with the help of my beautiful tattoo. I will forever see my tattoo and remember the excitement I felt when I planned the details of when and what I would get, the happiness that I felt when I stepped out of the tattoo shop, the knowledge that I treated myself to a gift that I had been dreaming of for a few years, and the fact that I now had confirmation that I possessed the ability to make decisions about my own body.

My tattoo is loved because, through it, I have started learning to accept the skin that I live in. I don’t know why or how my tattoo has changed my perception of myself, but I’ve become more confident with who I am and what I look like. I don’t always have my tattoo out for the world to see, but I do enjoy showing it off. I frequently find myself dressing in clothes that may show more skin, and most of the time I’m still comfortable. I no longer feel like hiding myself anymore; I can step out of my comfort zone more easily. My rose is an outward representation of the beauty that I feel on the inside and a constant reminder that I am just as beautiful on the outside, and a lot of times I still need that reminder.

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