I still vividly remember the experience of my first tattoo. After carefully choosing a symbol that 17 year old Diane deemed appropriate to place on the oh-so-popular lower back area (we all know what I really wanted to type there, starts with “t” and ends with “ramp stamp”), I found myself sitting in a chair, waiting to discover exactly how multiple tiny needles felt piercing through my skin.
The pain was surprisingly not bad, but perhaps due to the adrenaline pumping through me, or the fact that back then I still had this little problem, I felt myself getting dizzy. The tattoo artist, who luckily had the patience of a saint, told me to take a moment. As I pulled myself together, I turned to the mirror to have a look.
“Oh, the outline’s done, I like it like that! You know what? I think we should just leave it. Looks perfectly fine to me. Yup, I’m good. Let’s call it a day!”
He chuckled and told me to sit back down. After another half hour or so, I was patched up and on my way, elated that I had successfully gone through with it. On the drive home, a friend asked me how I was feeling. “Pretty good, but…..I want another one.”
Turns out that feeling never goes away, and it was only a few short months later that I strolled into a different tattoo shop to get the second one. Only this time, I hadn’t done my homework, and the tiny piece of art that now graces my left hip usually results in a face-palm whenever it catches my eye. I had decided I wanted tattoo #2 to be as meaningful as a drive-thru wedding, and ended up choosing a moon and 9 stars, with tribute to the meaning of my name, and my June 9th birthday (ok, calm down, I can hear you groaning from here.) Everything was going smoothly, until my friend, whom I had excitedly convinced to come with me, got a funny look on her face. “Diane,” she whispered, “so, um, there’s 10 stars, but, let’s just say one’s for luck.”
Ten years passed until I decided on my next one, and from there my tattoo addiction sped up a little quicker. The reason I had taken such a large break in-between getting any primarily fell on the disapproving attitudes towards them from family and significant others, but in the last two years of my life, I’ve learned some things.
We are all so impermanent. This life that we have, the one we’re all trying to figure out, is so incredibly short in the grand scheme of things. One day you’re a kid, dreaming of what it’s like to be all grown-up, and the next day you’re wondering how the last ten years could have flown by so quickly. You’re going to change, you’re going to grow, and you’re going to fall down a million times while you do that. But don’t let your biggest mistake be this: don’t let these mistakes be for anyone else but yourself. Figure out what you like. Figure out what you don’t like. Figure out what makes you happy. Figure out what makes you so incredibly excited, what fills you with so much joy, that you cannot help but grin at the mere thought of it. Figure out what you want to spend your time on. Figure out who you want to spend your time with. Figure out what drives you to get out of bed in the morning, and what lulls you to sleep at night.
And at the end of day, if one of those things that makes you happy is putting art on these bodies that we are all lucky enough to live in, then do just that. If it makes you happy to get a tattoo, or pierce your lip, then do it.
But do it for yourself.