5 Lessons Learned From Getting My First Tattoo

A couple of weeks ago I was in Christchurch, New Zealand. Yes, I was there just days before the earthquake, but I’m not gonna talk about that in this post. While I was there, I had the urge of getting my first tattoo. If you want to know why, well… I don’t kinda have an answer to that question… :-). I gave it some serious thoughts myself and, after a few days and nights of pondering things out, I decided that I got a (Scorpio shaped, if you really want to know) tattoo, just because I wanted to. Period.

I didn’t have a tattoo before and I knew little about the whole thing. Everything happened really fast. It took roughly two hours, in which I stayed pretty much like a stone on a chair, having my skin sewed with an electric needle which punched me 300 times per second. But I’m very happy with the result. Not only because I got a very nice piece of work, but also because, as always, this new and apparently out of nothing experience, taught me a great deal. If you’re curious what exactly I learned from this, well, just read on :-).

1. Pain Is In Your Head

If you’re a normal person, getting a tattoo hurts. By normal person I mean one with a regular nerve and skin structure. There are people who are not able to sense pain on their skin and for them, getting a tattoo is like brushing their hair. For me, it wasn’t. I’m a normal person and my skin nerves are performing exactly as they should do: informing me of every aggression that might happen, by triggering pain.

The moment I felt the needle on my skin I knew it’s going to be harsh. But I wasn’t prepared for that harsh. After the first minute I had the urge of telling “OK, got it, enough”. After the second minute I had the urge of just running away. And after the first 5 minutes I really wanted to punch the guy. In his face. Repeatedly. Until he’s down. And then kick his face. Repeatedly. Ok, I think you got the idea.

But none of these actions were available at the moment. I just wanted to have my tattoo done and if that meant I had to go through that pain, well, I had to just stay there. So I just stayed there. And started to shift my focus from my pain and the needle that was sewing me to my breathe. I do this all the time when I want to calm down or just take a break and refuel with energy. Inhale. Exhale.

To make a long story short, after the first half an hour I had my pain under control. The tattoo had to be outlined 4 times (it’s a green Scorpio with a red outline, a little bit of a color symbolism there) and one of the outlines had to be filled with color. So it was a lot of hurt. But after detaching myself from it, I was ok. Like really ok. When I got down from the chair, two hours later, with a fantastic green-red Scorpio on my arm, I could barely step. I was really, really sore. But not in pain anymore.

2. You Attract What You Are

This is something that started to happen after the tattoo was made. And I admit I wasn’t prepared for that either. So, in order to explain this, I would have to ask you a little question first: what’s the link between a Malayesian owner of a small malayesian restaurant in Auckland, a Chinese lady operating a shop at Victoria Peak in Hong Kong and yours truly?

Well, the Malayesian owner and the Chinese lady both seen my tattoo and felt compelled to start talking to me. Both Scorpios. And both pretty similar to me. They both admitted it was a very nice piece and they felt quite familiar in engaging in a social interaction with me, despite the racial difference. The link was made at another level.

The tattoo was visible all the time. Why I wasn’t approached by somebody else? A Gemini, perhaps? A Virgo?

My green-red Scorpio was like a lighthouse. It attracted human floating vessels with a familiar signal. “Hey, look, you recognize this? Let’s connect”. A tattoo is a very “in your face” signal. A very big lighthouse. But it was a very precious reminder that we do broadcast signals all the time and those signals are shaping our interactions.

3. You Become What You Say You Are

Or in other words, what you paint yourself as. After I made the tattoo, a subtle reinforcement vibe started to appear. Seeing the Scorpio on my arm all day long made me more aware of it. And of the fact that I am one with it. That I am it. I think it works a bit like visualization.

If you’re constantly in contact with something, you are adapting, you are adjusting, you are eventually becoming one with that something. There is this saying that you are, financially speaking, the average of the first 5 persons you spend most of your time with. And I do tend to believe that.

If you project yourself in a certain context, sooner or later you become one with that context. Either by changing yourself to fit in, or by attracting some favorable circumstances. Fact is, this is really working. I’m not going to say that I’m a better person because I have a green-red Scorpio tattoo on my arm.

But the whole process, getting it, melting it into my daily visual field, well, all of that made me more aware of who I am and how I act in this world.

4. Everything You Do Matter

Or in other words, it has consequences. Sometimes we don’t see them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. But a tattoo, a picture that will stay on your body for as long as you’ll have that body is a great reminder that your actions are leaving a trace.

Every time I wash my tattoo – and it doesn’t disappear – I realize that it was my decision. And that I cannot change it now. I cannot change the past or the consequences of my actions. I can only accept them and learn to live with them.

Sometimes we’re trapped into a strange remorse carousel. Especially if we’ve been through some pain, we want to reverse things to “how they used to be before”. Well, this can’t happen. The past is in the past and all we have to work with is in this present moment.

Of course we can change our lives, if we really want to. But we cannot change the consequences of what we already did. We have to work with what we have and make the best out of it.

5. Just Do It!

This is not technically a lesson, but rather a reinforcement. If you really want to do something, do it while you got the chance to. Do it when you want to. Because if you postpone too much, you may lose it entirely.

Just two days after I made my tattoo in Christchurch the whole city collapsed in a huge earthquake. My tattoo parlor may not even be standing. It really makes you think when you see stuff like this.

I think it’s better to proudly wear the traces of your adventures than to slip through life in an endless avoidance dance. I do wear my tattoo with pride and satisfaction.

I just did it. Like a ton of other things I did before and I’m going to do from now on.

39 thoughts on “5 Lessons Learned From Getting My First Tattoo”

  1. The story is very much interesting for the people who ink the first tattoo. This blog help them out the people who is interested for ink the first tattoo in their body. You have explained in the detail what’s the meaning of the first tattoo.
    Thank you so much for posting this wonderful content to the blog from this people get aware about it. Keep Posting!

  2. Thank you for your writing.
    I just got my first large tattoo covering my whole for arm & right now I feel indifferent. Like I’m an a adjustment period. Not regret but a strange place of this is on me forever.

    I have the mountains where I’m from with a little girl standing to the side watching in deep thought a heart balloon float away to new beginnings but blue falling back into the mountains representing her soul forever there. With my city state and elevation just bam right there.

    Which I did want, it’s a reminder of where I have been, I grew up there, have really horrible memories but really good ones too.

    I feel I’m not only having to accept my tattoo but I have to now accept my past of EVERYTHING & move forward completely detaching the bad too keep the good memories in my mind. I didn’t realize how emotional my tattoo was going to be for me but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m havin to dig deeper within myself and climb out on top mentally.

    I wasn’t expecting such an emotional surge and my tattoo not even being 24hrs old yet I have a long road ahead in my journey of acceptance.

    So thank you again, your words have helped.

  3. I love this :
    “I think it’s better to proudly wear the traces of your adventures than to slip through life in an endless avoidance dance. I do wear my tattoo with pride and satisfaction.”

    I got my first tattoo 6 days ago. It defines me – it was outlined a number of times (I didn’t count ) when she started doing the fill in I wanted to run.

  4. I relish, lead to I discovered exactly what I used to be looking for.
    You have ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day.

  5. Hey there. I am 21 from Canada, just got a tattoo today and wow. What a perfect read. Not sure if you’ll ever see this (3 years later) but this was the article I needed. Thank you.

  6. Thanks for this post. I’m going to get my first tattoo tomorrow, and I was struggling with fear… and reading your experience really calm me.
    I choose an “Enso”, and for my it has a lot of meaning. I want to remember what it represents, everyday.

  7. I really liked this post. I just got myself a little crescent moon on my wrist and I’m on my way to “melt into one with it”. It’s exactly how you described it, but I was never really able to put it into words.
    There were seconds where I asked myself if I did a mistake, but after reading this, I know my tattoo was just the best thing I could have come up with.
    I’m glad, I read this. 🙂

  8. I just found you on google. I have my appointment booked for next week. I ‘d been thinking about getting a tattoo for more than half a year and have finally made decision . Never thought about the pain until i read your article lol
    I’m getting scared now but it’s gonna worth it ! Great article . Very inspiring 😀 thank you

  9. Great article. I thought I well never get a tattoo in my life but encounter of my last few days changed everything and I am on my way to one of the islands in Philippines to get mine done. Just doing it.my daughter well be surprised to say the seat because I gave you a long speech about tattoos and that it should be a thought through decision.

  10. Pain in surely in my head and that needle is not the best thing in the world to experience. Wish I could wake up one morning and see a tattoo on my neck, yeah! I wouldn’t mind that.

  11. i have a tattoo of a peace with a daisy intertwined in it on my foot and it covers the whole entire top of my foot and this was my first tattoo. i completely hate pain and i thought i was dying. i screamed and cried and almost broke my moms hand for 3 hours i only have the black and yellow and green on it i havent put the white on it im too scared and plus its faded and i have to get it redone but i am about to get no lies just love on my wrists but im really scared. so ive been thinking if there was any possible way i could take something so i could be knocked out during. the breathing thing dosent work for me.

  12. Wow, after reading this post, it has really touched me.

    I have always been procrastinating especially on getting a tattoo for a long time.

    Alright, guess I’ll get me a tattoo.

  13. Congrats Dragos on your first tattoo. I love the lessons that you learned from it and your article reminds me that there’s a lesson in pretty much everything that we do. In fact, I learned many lessons from my own tattoo. One of those lessons didn’t really come about until I turned 30. Now, at age 34, my tattoo is a constant reminder of how far I’ve come. I was a 19 year old college student whose thoughts, interests and ideas were radically different from those that I have today. I love looking back and realizing how much I have to appreciate. It’s awesome.

  14. Enjoyed your story. I have 2 tattoos and I love them. Each represents a special time in my life and I’ve never regretted getting them. In fact, reading your story has started me thinking that maybe it’s time for a little more ink. Thanks!

  15. It’s funny because i postponed my tattoo, for an year or something like that.
    I i didn’t regret it, because i like it more now, and I wear my tattoo with pride 🙂
    I have a “small” one on my back 🙂

      • Not quite, i was thinking about what to do, and i wanted to do it at a friend who started tattooing because of me and 2 other friends. But it’s ok, in the end i improved the idea 🙂 it’s way cooler for me now (it’s a personal symbol).

  16. I like the wisdom of your post. Although I’ve never had the desire for a tattoo, I’m with you about having the gumption to do and go after what you want. Life is too short to live it any other way.

  17. That was interesting. I’ve wanted to get one for a while now but am not a fan of pain so … haven’t. I liked the way you actually leaned INTO the experience rather than away from the pain. Really cool way to handle it and applicable to other areas of life.

    Lean INTO it.


    (We can haz picture of your scorpion?)

  18. Nice tattoo, saw it today @opencoff
    These points that you mentioned are ideas that you reinforced with this experience, i bet you believed they’re true before having the tattoo done 🙂

    I would say it’s a good habit to use every experience to reinforce ideas & principles. It makes you more aware. Aware is what you want to be all the time IMO. except when you’re having a tattoo done, apparently 🙂

    • Yeap, those things were pretty much clear before, but the experience reinforced them. And nope, I don’t want to be asleep when I’ll get my next tattoo 😉 Pain is part of the game.

  19. Hi,
    This is my first comment here, I am a regular reader though.
    Just as all your previous posts, this is inspiring in a very nice way. I’ve always wanted a tattoo, but I always hesitate about getting one, since it’s permanent. But now, that I have read this entry, I realized that getting a tattoo is as any other decision you make in life, it might work, or you might regret it. However, “accept them and learn to live with them” is the key.
    Thankyou, Best wishes.

  20. I kept waiting for you to say that you literally ran into a live scorpion, LOL! I am glad you didn’t. As for tattoos, I don’t think I will ever get one. I would really have to want one bad to go through what you described. My desire for a tattoo is not even close. Enjoy yours though!

  21. I find each time I get a tattoo, my body seems to absorb the message or idea of the tattoo while it heals and changes me indelibly. All my tattoos are symbols and relevant to me in that sort of way.

    I think the tattooing experience is different for men and women – women have to put up with all sorts of pain regularly and pretend it’s not happening. I’ve had a tattoo done while sitting next to a big burly biker. One of us had to get up, have a little walk and some deep breaths. I’ll give you a clue – it wasn’t me. 🙂

    • Yeap, I hear you loud and clear. I know men and women have different pain thresholds and that is a fact. As for absorbing the symbols, yes, it is exactly like this. Didn’t imagine it will be like this but it is.

  22. Inspiring in deed. I’ve never got myself tattooed but this things surely adds some ideas to what it feels like having a tattoo. You said that pain in in the mind and I’m starting to feel that it’s really painful. A good blog post in one that makes you feel connected to it and your one does. Enjoyed it sir!


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