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Getting inked

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Trust me, it's not as painful as you think it is.

Last week, I ticked something off my bucket list—getting a tattoo.

And yes, it hurt and there were needles, so look away now if that's not your kind of thing.

When I was 10, I had decided that I would get a tattoo at 20, if I were still up for it. (I still was.)

While my parents were slightly iffy about me getting something as permanent as a tattoo, they knew that I had wanted it for a long time. As a "tattoo virgin", I thought I'd start with a small one at the base of my ankle.

Even when the marker was on me, i was already freaking out
I WANTED THE TATTOO TO BE VISIBLE ENOUGH WHEN IT'S POINTED OUT, 
BUT OBSCURE ENOUGH FOR PEOPLE TO MISS IT ON FIRST GLANCE.

My friend had recommended that I search through Instagram to find tattoo artists and their works, to see if their artistic style fit the design I had in mind.

While it would have been cheaper to get an apprentice to do my tattoo for me, I would rather pay a little more to have it done perfectly.

After all, I've already waited 10 years for it.

That's how I ended up in the studio, grilling my ink artist with presumably frequently asked questions while he marked out where the tattoo would sit on my ankle with a marker, five minutes from getting the tattoo done.

This is a coil needle, which uses electromagnetic fields to make it work. Really interesting stuff
MY TATTOO DESIGN SITTING NEXT TO THE NEEDLE THAT WOULD IMPRINT IT ON MY SKIN.

The 10,001 documentaries I'd watched showed me how the five needles on the tattoo gun would be creating small wounds in my skin and ink being pushed into them. 

"It's going to hurt, right?" I asked, as he wrapped my chair and pillow with cling film, and disinfected the disposable needle he was going to use on me.

"Yes, but trust me, it's not as bad...," said Clifford, my tattoo artist, before being promptly cut off by another artist, who later told me that getting a tattoo would be the worst pain I had ever felt in my life so far.

At the end of the day, all the prep work I tried to do still couldn't mentally prepare me for the actual tattooing process. As the piercing buzzing of the coil tattoo machine started, I braced myself for the excruciating pain that I believed was coming… 

This is the face of a petrified girl.
THIS WAS MY FACE AS HE STARTED UP THE MACHINE. I WAS TERRIFIED.

I was, thankfully, let down. 

I have a terribly low tolerance for pain, so trust me when I say it really didn't hurt as much as I thought it would.

The upstrokes on the 'L' and the 'F' on "Fearless" were the killer; I could feel every movement of the needle and that really hurt. But overall, it pretty much felt like someone was scratching me with a metal ruler.


THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE OF GETTING MY FIRST TATTOO FELT EMPOWERING,
LIKE HOW MULAN FELT AFTER CHOPPING OFF HER HAIR. 

By the end of it, the area around my ankle was slightly tender and swollen, but other than that, I was ecstatic about my tattoo. I had already taken at least 20 pictures of the tattoo because I was so in love with it.

If I could show you my album of photos from that night alone, you'd be amazed at how many there were
I HAD NO REGRETS ABOUT GETTING MY TATTOO. I FELT… FEARLESS.

I was sent home with advice to apply ointment onto the tattoo, and to leave it uncovered to allow it to heal. The scabbing process didn't really hurt, but I think it's largely because my tattoo was small.

I'M. STILL. SO. HAPPY. WITH IT.
A WEEK AFTER, THE SCABS LOOK AND FEEL LIKE A TYPICAL "I FELL DOWN" KIND OF SCAB.

If you'd like to get a tattoo, I highly suggest that you spend as much time as you need to decide what you want and where you want it, since it's permanent. 

To the 10-year-old me, I hope you're proud, because I am.