I’ve wanted to get a tattoo for a long time, but I never thought I’d have the courage to actually do it. My parents don’t really approve of tattoos, the pain of actually getting a tattoo seemed like too much to bear, and I’m terrible at making decisions. That’s not to say that I make bad decisions- just that it takes me a while to decide on anything. One time I spent about an hour walking around TJ Maxx with two different purses in my cart because I couldn’t decide which one I wanted– how could I EVER decide on all the details of a tattoo?
But I did. After months of research (thank you, Pinterest!) and thought, I took a leap of faith and got my first tattoo last week. A small baby evergreen tree.
Once I finally settled on a general style and placement, it was time to email the tattoo artist to request a booking. I’ll be honest, I put this part off for a while because I was scared of it becoming too real. Also because the booking and collaborative process has always been so intimidating to me. Will she think my tattoo idea is lame or too basic? How do I know if I’m getting overcharged? What happens if I email her and then change my mind about what I want?
But I pushed through that hesitation and pressed send on the email. I sent her some of my inspiration pictures, we agreed on a day, time, and price. My sister in law had recommended the artist to me, and after stalking her Instagram page, I fell in love with Hayden’s work.
The night before getting my tattoo, I spent God only knows how long watching people getting tattoos on YouTube. “My first tattoo!” “My rib cage tattoo- ouch!” “Ten things to do at a tattoo shop.” “Ten things to NEVER do at a tattoo shop.” On and on and on. When I finally got tired of listening to bubbly white girls saying “Well I have a high pain tolerance so it didn’t hurt THAT bad,” I put the phone down and moved on. What happens if you don’t have a high pain tolerance, Brittany?!
The morning of my tattoo, I went over to my mom’s and had a big breakfast (one of the recommendations from my YouTube rabbit hole the night before). Then my sister and I drove downtown to the studio, Hinterland. When we stepped inside and met Hayden for the first time, I immediately knew I was in good hands. Her studio felt warm and safe, and looked nothing like the dark tattoo shops I had seen and heard about.
She put the stencil on my side and we moved it around a bit before I settled on the exact placement. Then I laid down on the table, rolled my sweatshirt up, and braced myself.
The first line that she did (probably the base line of the tree) was the worst. Oh my god why am I doing this to myself? I felt sweet relief as she finished that line and removed the needle for a few seconds. After that, it really was okay. It felt like repetitive bee stings, and after twenty minutes or so I was numb to it. I was thankful that I had Kaleigh with me to talk and help distract me. It didn’t really hurt again until the last five minutes or so as Hayden was going back in and putting on the finishing touches.
When I got off the table and looked in the full-length mirror, I had mixed emotions. I loved it! But my skin was angry and red, and I was thinking What did I just do? I was excited, relieved, and anxious all at once.
After snapping a few photos, Hayden covered my tattoo in Saniderm, went over the aftercare instructions, and gave us a group hug. She really was incredible. I walked out feeling joyful and proud of myself.
The first few days, every movement of my torso felt like it was ripping open a thousand tiny wounds. By the third day, though, it just felt like a bad sunburn. After a week, it’s just really incredibly annoyingly itchy.
Every time I look in the mirror, I love my little tree more and more. I love the placement of it, I love the design, I love the colors, and I love the way it fits me.
My mom asked me “Why do you want a TREE on your body forever?” Well, here’s why.
On the surface level, Dan and I love hiking, camping, spending time outdoors, and the forest. But it’s deeper than that. There’s something about evergreens that has always made me feel peaceful, safe, and invigorated all at once. They stand strong and they thrive even in the dead of winter. They remind me of God’s steadfast love that will never fail me. When I’m not feeling like myself, I can put my hand over my tattoo and be reminded of all these things.
My advice for getting your first tattoo:
- Be sure about what you want and where you want it, but–
- Don’t overthink it. You will drive yourself crazy!
- Eat sugary foods and hydrate before your session.
- Follow the aftercare instructions to a T– even if it means not wearing a bra for a week.
- Bring along someone to support you, or bring headphones to keep your mind busy.
- Don’t wait until you think you have the “perfect body.” For years I told myself I couldn’t get a tattoo until I reached a certain (unattainable) weight goal. That is BS. If anything, having a beautiful tattoo has helped me love my body and all of its flaws even more.
- Don’t care too much about what other people think. Your tattoo is for YOU.