My birthday is tomorrow. A Thursday work day that I will be spending in my office doing the same thing I’m doing today. I’m not really excited about my birthday itself since it’ll be just like any other day (except for my husband making an amazing dinner and pampering me a bit) but I am thrilled to pieces about the weekend of June 7th. I will hopefully be seeing a friend that I haven’t seen in what feels like a decade, I will definitely be out somewhere for dinner, drinks, and possible entertainment, and I will also be getting my ninth tattoo.
I’ve been itching for a new one for a little while now and I finally worked up the guts to get my planned art on the inside of my arm. I’m in a bit of a hurry to get in the chair this time around because I don’t want to chicken out due to my fear of how awful it will be to ink that bit of sensitive skin. And just as I have done with every other piece I’ve chosen to get etched onto my body, I am not telling a single soul what I plan to get. My husband can probably take a guess at what it is since he helped me find the design over a year ago, but even he doesn’t know my full plans for it and what I wish to add to it. The first person to know what it will be must be the artist, no matter what.
It is 1005 superstition that keeps me silent when it comes to planned ink. I allowed myself to be talked out of at least half a dozen different things when I was planning to get my first. Eventually I wised up, chose a design, and shut my big mouth until it was time to consult with the artist and get it done. Getting a tattoo is a very personal decision and it’s unfair to the individual to have to deal with opinions and input from people who have no business telling you what you should and shouldn’t do with your body. It is something you live with, and should be in your control, not the control of family, friends or coworkers.
The reaction I got from people when I was planning my first tattoo and shared my ideas were always along these lines: “Why?” “I saw a girl with one like that before.” “Um… okaaaaay.” “You should get _____ instead.” “Oh, don’t get [X color]; I hear it fades/hurts/scars.” “You’re getting it there? All right….” “Tattoos are gross.” It’s incredibly frustrating to keep up your level of excitement and enthusiasm for something when so many people are tearing at it, trying to knock it down. Everyone has an opinion and they are going to give it to you whether you like it or not. For me, the best way to avoid that is to keep the details under wraps.
The second reason I don’t like to divulge the details is that it’s hard to explain a design to someone properly. I always have a vision in my head, one that goes beyond the design I present to the artist. I’m always going in saying “I want something like this, only with X, Y and Z.” The artist understands, but everyone else may not be so receptive to my idea. I also can’t predict how the artist will interpret the design and what personal flare they will add to it. My description beforehand will not do the finished product any justice.
A huge part of me thinks that it’s simply bad luck to discuss the design prior to getting the work done. I have no basis for this and nothing to make me think it’s ill-advised to do so, but a big part of me feels that if I discuss the design beforehand, it will get screwed up or I will be unable to get it. If I want a dolphin, for example, and I tell everyone about my big dolphin plans, I feel that I’ll either get an artist who refuses to do it, an artist that makes it look like a worm, or the whole shop will be booked and I’ll be turned away. It makes no sense, but that can be said about a lot of things that go on in my mind.
The bottom line is that I’m not refusing to tell people to be obnoxious or because I think it makes me look mysterious. I know I confuse people with my silence on the matter and that isn’t my intention. I just feel that the time to make the ink public is when it’s firmly pressed into my skin. If you’re going to love it or hate it, you’re going to do so at a point where it’s too late for me to change my mind about it. You’re not going to influence my decision or feelings on the matter, you’re simply going to be allowed to comment on the aftermath.
Tattoos are a way for me to express myself and the things I’m passionate about. They make me feel beautiful by altering my body in a way I find appealing. They mean something to me that goes beyond what I reveal to the world. They’re a hell of a lot of fun to get. They are a part of my personality. And for some reason, the entire planning phase is something I consider very private, even though the art itself will be public. It needs only make sense to me. I will always enjoy hearing about people’s ink ideas and seeing their designs, but I can’t join in the pre-party. Don’t be offended when I don’t share; it’s not for a lack of wanting, it’s just something my crazy brain will not allow.