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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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