Michele Bird
Updated Apr 18, 2016 @ 10:08 am
Credit: Shutterstock / Mikhail_Kayl

Have you ever hyped up something to be a whole lot scarier than it turned out to be? Say you’re riding a roller coaster for the first time or entering a haunted house, and just the thought of it has you shaking in your boots. It’s easy to assume an unknown experience will be terrifying, but sometimes it will surprise you for the better. This is exactly how I felt about tattoos before I decided to take the jump for myself.

I had grown up surrounded by tattoo culture, thanks to being actively involved in the music scene. Almost every artist or band member I’ve been a fan of has pieces on their neck, legs, arms, and chest. Most of my friends and family members counted down the days until they turned 18 so they could finally get the ink they had always dreamed of. However, since needles and shots have never been my forte, the idea of willingly signing up for a tattoo session was an idea far from my mind. That all changed as I got older, though, and realized that I’d be willing to deal with the pain for a few moments for a lifetime of beautiful art on my body.

One of the things I’ve always admired most about tattoos is the stories behind them. Tattoos are a walking piece of art, and the creative possibilities that comes with them are endless. I had been playing around with a few different tattoo ideas in my head before I chose my final design. I knew I wanted something that was special to me and that I wouldn’t end up regretting a few years down the line. I wanted something that showed a part of who I am and what I love. With something so permanent, I didn’t want to make a rush decision.

What made me the most nervous about the idea of getting a tattoo was the pain factor. I knew it was going to hurt, but exactly how much? Before getting my first piece done, I spoke with many people about their experiences, both good and bad. From the most painful spot to get tattooed to the best shops they’ve visited, I wanted to know everything.

As an avid traveler, I decided I would get my first tattoo during a trip to New Orleans. I figured there’s no better way to commemorate a trip than by getting some ink. A tattoo is honestly one of the best souvenirs you can take away from your travels. Thanks to recommendations from various locals, I was able to find the shop and artist who I wanted to complete my first tattoo.

When I initially walked into the shop, I had a mix of nerves and excitement. I had no idea what to expect as a first-timer, and couldn’t wait to see how my piece would turn out. My artist was extremely laid back and walked me through the entire process, which made me feel very comfortable. Throughout the course of my tattoo session, I was pleasantly surprised to find out the pain wasn’t as bad as I originally thought it would be. I even joked with my artist that I had been overthinking what the pain would be like before sitting in his chair. Before I knew it, my session was complete and I was walking away with a piece I couldn’t be more than happy with.

No matter if you’re getting tattooed or trying something else for the first time, you never know what something will truly be like until you go through it yourself. Getting a tattoo is a choice I’m proud of because it’s a visual reminder and lifelong souvenir I can have to remember a special time and place in my life. Don’t be surprised if you catch me in the tattoo shop sometime again in the near future. My friends weren’t joking when they said you spark the tattoo craze once you get your first one.