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Deciding on a Tattoo

Updated on January 14, 2013
Truffula tree from "The Lorax"
Truffula tree from "The Lorax"

Written by: Jaclyn Popola

On the spectrum of tattooing there are two types of people: the extremists (those who have ink all over their bodies and/or will drive any distance/pay any amount of money to get tattooed by one of the great tattoo artists such as Chris Nunez or Paris Pierides), and the deficients (those who walk into a tattoo parlor empty headed, flip open to the first sample page hanging on the wall, point and say, "Umm...I guess I'll get that one.")

Of course, nothing in life is strictly black or white, and the majority of people who get tattooed fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. But how do you decide what you're going to get? And how do you know you're making the right decision? And how do you know you're going to want it on your body for the rest of your natural born life? I wrote one of my first hubs on the topic of tattoo what if's -- click here to read "Don't Regret Your Next Tattoo"

It depends on the individual. Some people trust their instincts while others have to sit with an idea for a while. I'm the former. I might have an idea in my head for months, but as soon as I get in the tattoo parlor it changes and another, more fitting image comes to mind. I trust my epiphanies and go for the new idea instead. I can always come back and get the original idea done later. My friend Megan, on the other hand, is going to get the word "genesis" tattooed on her. Only she has been saying this since the year 2004. When she first came to terms with the fact that she wanted a tat, she told me what she wanted it to say and then told me that she was going to wait one year. She would keep the idea in the forefront of her mind and, if by the time one year had passed, she still wanted the same thing, then she would go ahead and get it.

Periodic Table of Elements tattoo
Periodic Table of Elements tattoo
Some people want a tattoo in a certain place on their body, like their ankle or lower back, and then set out to find something that will fit in that space. Then there are those who fall in love with an image and like it so much they'll put it wherever it'll fit best. Neither way is wrong, it just depends on what feels most comfortable for you.

The last thing on earth you want to do is to get a tattoo because someone you know is getting one. There's a huge difference between last minute epiphanies of the kind I explained above and last minute decisions made in haste because you see your best friend sitting in the chair getting inked and you're jealous.

Secondly, I'm not one to judge, and certainly there are exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, getting a tattoo that is date specific might not be the brightest idea. When you're graduating high school, sure, it seems like the greatest time of your life, the moment that marks the point between youth and adulthood! An evolution into unlimited freedom! But getting "YEAH BABY CLASS OF 2007 WOHOO HELL YEAH BRO WE GETTING STUPID UP IN HERE!!!" tattooed across your chest in giant letters might not be the best idea.

Which leads me to my third point: don't get tattooed because you're drunk and think it sounds like a fun thing to do while your buddies watch. You will wake up regretting it. More importantly, don't get tattooed because you're drunk and think it sounds like a fun thing to do while your buddies take turns tattooing you with a homemade gun.

And if all else fails, stop thinking so much and just go for it. Besides, we're too attached to our bodies and way too preoccupied with how they do or do not appear to go around bemoaning the treacherous fate of a tattoo regretted. We must remember that our bodies and souls are like cars and their drivers. It is our soul who is the driver, and we must learn to stop identifying solely with the vehicle.


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