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18 Things You Need To Know Before You Get Your First Tattoo

18 Things You Need To Know Before You Get Your First Tattoo

If you’ve never gotten a tattoo before, getting one for the first time can seem daunting. Well, fear not fellow adventurers, I just got my first tattoo, and I have no regrets. In fact, I loved it.

Since I had a few questions beforehand, and during the process, I thought it’d be a good idea to share what I learned, just in case someone out there needs some reassurance. To further assure you that it’s not as bad as you think, here are a few tips on what to do before, during, and after getting a tattoo.

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Before you get a tattoo:

  1. Know what you want (and where you want it). Or at least have an idea. Do a little research and think about it – it will be inked onto you forever. But it’s also easier for the artist if you know what you want; bring pictures for them to see, explain what you want, and they’ll draw it out for you until it’s the design that you want. Keep in mind this might take a while. Speaking of which…
  2. Don’t think you’ll just be in and out. If it’s a small, simple tattoo, true it might not take very long. But depending on how busy the shop is, you may have to wait an hour or so. If your design is more complicated, you may have to schedule an appointment for another day. Some tattoos take multiple sessions depending on the size and detail.
  3. Prepare the night before. For instance, don’t drink heavily (preferably not at all) because it can thin your blood. Go to bed at a decent hour so you can get plenty of rest. Depending on where you’re getting your tattoo and how long it takes, you might have to sit or lay in an uncomfortable position for an extended period of time.
  4. Eat something before the task and remember to drink lots of water. You want something in your stomach, and you want to stay hydrated. Even if you’ve gotten a tattoo before, it’s still a good idea to do so. Otherwise, you might risk passing out. You also might have to wait a while, so you might even want to bring a snack (I did).
  5. If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor about it. You might need a doctor’s note at the shop.
  6. Make sure you have the money. Some tattoos can be only $50, but others can be several hundred, so make sure you can afford the tattoo you want.
  7. Not every shop requires tips, but have money for a tip anyway. The artists put their time, effort and talent into giving you something you’ll treasure forever; you should tip them.
  8. Remember to bring your ID. You must be eighteen to get a tattoo. If you’re not, you need to bring a parent with you.

During the tattooing process:

This is the fun part. There was a lot I didn’t know about getting a tattoo until I got one, and I learned some pretty cool things. I know you’re probably wondering if it really hurts, so don’t worry, I’ll get to that.

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  1. The spot you are having tattooed might need to be shaved. The artist will do that, so you don’t need to worry about it. My tattoo is on my shoulder, so I did not have to have it shaved, but my artist cleaned the spot before starting, to keep it sterile.
  2. There are pauses in the process. I don’t know why, but I assumed once he started, the artist would just keep drawing. But he drew it basically the way he would have drawn it on paper – one line, etc. at a time. The needle probably didn’t touch my skin for more than ten seconds at a time. Sometimes, the artist would pause for a few seconds, sometimes a little longer—sometimes other people in the shop would come look when they were done getting their tattoo, and the other artists at the shop wanted a peek, too.
  3. Remember to breathe. Don’t hold your breath. Try to relax, find something to distract you – or just focus on breathing. It may even lessen the pain. I noticed that when I randomly thought about blood, sharp things or pain of any kind, it hurt a little more, but when I let my mind wander, it hurt less. So don’t think about it.
  4. You can talk while you’re getting your tattoo. Personally, I talked carefully because I was trying not to move too much, but I had some nice chats with my artist. He asked me about my work and what I like to read, and he told me about his family and his master’s degree in fine arts, and of course, some weird tattoo stories (I asked). Don’t be afraid to talk to your artist! An hour and a half flew by for me with my artist distracting me (and it hurt less, too).
  5. Does it hurt? That’s a common question when it comes to tattoos. The simple answer is yes. But it also doesn’t hurt as much as you think it does. In my experience, the worst points of pain feel sort of like something is cutting you; it’s a sharp pain that as mentioned only lasts for seconds at a time. For me, it didn’t hurt when the needle was lifted away. The more tolerable pains felt like little bee stings, or like someone was drawing on me with a pen (which, in a way, is what was happening). Now, pain is different for everyone, so I guess I’ll just say “Expect it to hurt, and it will probably hurt less than you thought it would.” In my pre-tattoo research, I came across a website called High Priestess that said “Yes it will hurt, but probably not nearly as bad as you think it will. Unless you don’t think it will hurt at all. Then it might hurt really, really bad. Tattoos have been described as feeling somewhat like an “electric cat scratch”; tingly and scratchy at the same time.”

After getting your tattoo:

  1. Your tattoo will be bandaged. How long to keep the bandage on may vary. My instructions were to leave it on for 1-2 hours. Another friend told me he had to take his off right away. My suggestion for this is – follow the aftercare instructions your artist gives you.
  2. Repeat: Follow the aftercare instructions given to you. Generally, you wash the tattoo with a mild soap after removing the bandage. You may also be instructed to apply a thin layer of ointment or unscented lotion. I was given a packet of A&D ointment to use for a certain period and told to use lotion at a later period.
  3. There’s a list of “don’ts.” For instance, don’t go swimming or soak your tattoo in water for two weeks. Showering is fine, but it shouldn’t be submerged in water. Don’t expose it to too much sun. Don’t re-bandage your tattoo. Don’t scratch it – it’s likely to be at least a little itchy, and might even start peeling, so don’t pick at it (this is what ointments and lotions are for). Don’t let it come into contact with dirty things.
  4. You might be sore. Personally, my tattoo was not sore, but it was a small one. At the worst, it feels a little bit like a sunburn.
  5. If you have any questions, ask your artist about it. Just give your shop a call – they’d be happy to answer your questions.

Overall, getting a tattoo is an exciting experience. Though getting nervous, or even scared, is understandable, it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. I dare say you’ll enjoy it. From my own experience, I’m extremely happy with mine, and already want to get another one. Some may wonder at your desire to sit and get your body covered in ink, but if it’ll mean something to you, don’t let your fears stop you. It’s totally worth it.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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