Did It Hurt?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Even now at the age of 25 I'm not that comfortable in my own skin. I trip over my own feet at least once a day, I am constantly misjudging the distance between my flailing limbs and the nearest glass of water, and I've given John more injuries than presents.

The few things I do love about my body are things that weren't there originally - my tattoos.

I got my first tattoo at a parlor in Utah during my first year in college. I was 18 and reluctant to step inside. I wasn't wavering in my decision but I didn't feel the least bit cool enough to walk in there.

When the day finally arrived I showed up with shallow breath and sweaty hands. They prepped me, told me what they were going to be doing, laid me down, and put the needle to my skin. No turning back now.

Two hours later I had gotten my first tattoo.

Now, some six years later I have nine tattoos all together. And I'm not done yet.

Sometimes there is this stigma with people who have tattoos. Maybe they're mean, or rough around the edges, maybe they are angry at their parents. But I find that people come up to me more now that I have them than ever before.

They ask a lot of the same questions: Where did you get it? Did it hurt? What is it? What are you going to do when you're older? 

Most of the time I try to answer them as best as I can. All except the last one because really?

Sometimes I get the impression that people think I'm cooler than I am because of them. Or that I have a shit job because who is going to let you work with tattoos on your arms?!

Well, let me tell you: I'm not that cool. I got them because I like them and they mean something to me. I'm not an artist, a biker, or barista.

Annnd to those who ask about my job: When I first arrived at the job I'm at now, no one even knew I had them. You put on a sweater and no one even knows they're there. When I finally got comfortable enough and took the sweaters off, people were flabbergasted that I even had any.

My mum was pretty pissed/disappointed/annoyed when I got the first ones on my arm. I guess as my mother she had to be all motherly and "Why Valerie, why?" and "You better buy a bunch of sweaters because no one will ever hire you now," and the most hilarious "What if your boyfriend doesn't like girls with tattoo?"

Which is hilarious because John is in the process of getting his sleeve finished too.

To this day, I never talk about my future tattoo plans in front of my mother. And it kills me whenever any of my cousins broach the subject because I can feel Mum's judgmental eyes boring into the back of my skull as I stutter incoherent syllables.

I've also never regretted getting them. Six years in and still regret-free! My decisions as to what to get, where to get it, and who was going to do them weren't taken lightly. I didn't go in, point at some flash and pay up. I thought about it. I wanted things not many other people have but things that also mean something to me. So, no. I don't regret them. And I hate that people assume I will.

So here are answers to some of the most asked questions.

My most painful tattoo was the one on the top of my foot. And no, it's not a rabbit, a bear, or a cat. It's a Totoro.

The quickest one was the one on my ankle. It took less than 30 minutes.

The one I get the most comments on is the robot on my forearm.
Some nerd guys go crazy for it when they assume it's a female C3PO. They try to talk to me about Darth and Luke and who knows what else while trying to put the moves on me. It's hilarious because C3PO was actually based off the robot on my arm (not the other way around) and I've never seen Star Wars in my life. I have no inclination to. Boooooring.

Getting them, I learned something new about my pain tolerance and my body.  The process and the way your skin reacts to it are different for everyone. Though the process isn't pain-free it's not unbearable. But I learned that I cannot go in without eating anything. Technically speaking no one should go in without eating something. And you should never go drunk because it makes your blood thinner or something.

I also learned that I cannot be tattooed for more than 3 hours. My skin not only gets really red, but starts to bleed and plasma-ed everywhere like crazy. It also doesn't take the ink as well, which means more work and more pain.

Whatever body part is getting tattooed also swells up. I don't know if you can see it on the rose below but my arm is super huge. It gets very tender and sensitive. But all of that goes away in a few days.

Needless to say, I love them.

No matter what your feelings on tattoos are they have been a form of expression, art, and a rite of passage for over thousands of years.

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  1. Your tattoos are so neat! Both of my tattoos have taken less than an hour. I can't imagine sitting there for more than 3! Ouch! My pain tolerance is not that high. I was making faces through the whole thing and asking myself whyyyyy? But I love my Harry Potter tattoo. My other tattoo I got when I was 18. I don't regret it, but it's not my favorite. It's just a fairy sitting on a peace sign and it's colored in rainbow. It definitely needs a touch-up.

  2. I saw your HP tattoo and loved it! I need an HP one but I don't know what I want yet. I've heard of people who sit there for 6, 7, 8 hours and I'm like....no. Definitely no. My first one could use a touch up as well. Plans on getting anymore?

  3. I definitely want more! I was thinking about getting a small lightning bolt on my wrist, and I have a few other ideas too. I just need to save up some money before I get anymore!