Don’t shy away from adding art to your skin

Reasons why you should get a tattoo

Growing up in a conservative Indian family, I was taught to shy away from getting tattoos. Tattoos were always coupled with troubled, daring people that had no business being a productive member of society. For years I gave it no thought. What could I possibly want to add to myself permanently?

It wasn’t until I was 23 years old when I decided to take the plunge and get a tattoo. I was supposed to go on a date with an old friend from college but he had posted a very long status about wanting to find a woman to marry. Naturally, I canceled our date and decided to get a tattoo instead.

Dallas has a tradition on every Friday the 13th where tattoo shops charge $20 for a tattoo ($13 for the tattoo plus $7 tip). The shops display an array of small tattoos that have the number 13 embedded in. Normally tattoos this small cost about $80 hence why it’s no surprise to the lines of people ready to get inked. I hadn’t planned on getting a tattoo that faithful Friday the 13th but the experience taught me some fun lessons along the way.

Memories

With my first tattoo, I always laugh when I see it. I think about how abruptly I canceled my date and how long I had to wait in line. My colleague and I waited out in the cold for 5 hours to get these tattoos. She wanted to walk out after the 2nd hour but she stuck with me knowing it was my first tattoo ever.

Throughout the long wait, we watched Deep Ellum transform from a barren sea to an ocean teeming with all sorts of characters. People walked past us in a drunken state. The homeless were in their coveted corners, asking for spare change. The street musicians created a crescendo of sound, mixing in with the music booming from the other bars and clubs in the area.

After we got our tattoos, I got a drunken text from the date I canceled about how selfish I am for not wanting to hang out. My colleague and I laughed it off as we walked to the bar next door to commence our night of drinking. We ran into a pair of platonic friends. I was hitting on the girl and her friend was hitting on me while my colleague and her boyfriend laughed at this awkward love triangle.

It was such a random night but that tattoo represents how much fun it was to go out and be spontaneous. I may have cracked a few hearts that night but it was harmless and all I ached for was fun. My first tattoo emulates that so well.

Expression

Tattoos are the epitome of self-expression. Typically people show themselves off through a new hairstyle or trendy clothes but tattoos add a permanent flair to your body. That permanence is why people tend to shy away from wanting to get inked.

As I mentioned before, that tattoo shop has a pre-set list of tattoos you can get for $20 on Friday the 13th. I was skimming the chart on their website and my eyes set their gaze on an open book with the number 1 and 3 on separate pages.

I love reading and I am such an open book, this tattoo is perfect for me

My colleague and I had waited for 5 hours for our turn to get tattoos. Once we got to the front, we were told that there were too many people and they cut the type of tattoos we were allowed to get. My colleague and I were disappointed that both our choices had been slashed, we were so close to getting inside! We had waited so long that I decided to get the one that caught my eye, the weight lifter. No, I don’t lift weights but out of all the choices, it looked the most interesting.

I got the tattoo on my inner right thigh, just above my knee. Depending on the angle it looks like hieroglyphics and it’s become a sensational conversation starter when I’m at a bar. Explaining the why behind that tattoo, how I ditched a date to go get one on a whim has always been a fun indicator of the people I hook up with. I’m thankful that my little tattoo weeds out the people who don’t understand the power behind impromptu choices.

Feeling braver

Getting a tattoo is a brave process. You willingly decide to have a needle etch its way through your skin for a slice of ever-lasting art. My first tattoo only took a few minutes but it was painful to sit through the pinprick of the needle.

To add to that, the spontaneity of my first tattoo shaped my mindset. At the time I had been at my current job for a year and I felt like my life was at a stand-still. Yes, it was fun to bar hop and have one-night stands but I missed the travel perks from my previous job at American Airlines. My life went from city hopping the corners of America to the classic 8–5 office routine. Needless to say, I felt like my life just wasn’t as exciting anymore.

Getting my first tattoo made me realize that I needed to allow the impulsive side of me to take over to have fun. Sure, there have been times where I’ve gone too far to where I can’t walk away from decisions I’ve made, but how else are you expected to grow? The tendency to push the boundaries around me glowed stronger and I love how I don’t overthink my choices.

Takeaway

Ultimately, I’m thankful that my first tattoo was a choice I made out of raw spontaneity. Each time I see it, I laugh at the memories from that faithful night and I remember what it means to me. Ultimately, it’s a symbol that reflects my lifestyle.

Thanks for reading friends! I would love to hear stories of your first tattoos :)

An acquired taste. Always questioning if my actions are brave or reckless. Writing to heal. Lots of travel, personal revelations, & funny stories.

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