You ever have expectations for a moment set in your head? Like something you’ve waited to do for years finally happens and it’s nothing like you expect? That’s exactly how I felt about getting my first tattoo.
Since the 9th grade I’ve wanted to get tatted. I wanted the word Faith written on my foot and a cross on the inside of my left ring finger. I had thought long and hard about the explanations. I wanted Faith written on my foot because of the scripture “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7). I thought the placement would be clever and a good pun. For the cross on my left ring finger, I wanted it to represent my promise of purity and to one day signify God’s protection over my marriage.
10 years later I finally built up the nerve to get a tattoo. For a while I was nervous I wouldn’t get a job because of it or my parents would be disappointed in me. The older I got, I realized those things were irrelevant. The career path I had chosen was in a creative industry where tattoos aren’t even a factor. My parents don’t love the idea, but they love me and accept my choices.
My plan at 24 had shifted from my ideas at 14. I still wanted the cross on my ring finger, but I wasn’t as pressed about the Faith tattoo. I decided I’d rather get a heart on my right wrist instead. There are quite a few scriptures that share that authority comes from our right hand/arm. I feel like love is where my authority lies, so the tattoo sounded like a good idea. I told all of this to my sister and she said she’d get the heart tattoo with me. I was ecstatic. I had never considered getting a matching tattoo with anyone, but I had no second thoughts about getting one with my sister.
The day came for us to go get the tattoos and my whole family was joking that my sister may not go through with it. I was pretty sure she would do it, but I was getting another tattoo regardless so it would have been fine with me if she backed out. Somewhere within that conversation, my sister decided that we should change the design we get. She wanted it to be a collaborative idea and not just her tacking on to my idea. I definitely felt that. So an hour before leaving to go get the tattoos, we got on Pinterest and started looking up different designs. At this point, my family also all had opinions on what new design we should get. Eventually we landed on a design and we were ready to go. Me, my sister, and my aunt hopped in the car to make a permanent decision based on a 30 minute conversation.
We pulled up to the tattoo place I had done research on and they were closed. Their website said they were open, but somehow they were not. At this point we realize if we didn’t get the tattoos in the next few moments, we may not go through with it. The momentum of the moment was slowing down. Determined to make it happen, I did a Google search and found the nearest tattoo shop with decent reviews.
When we got the next shop, the tattoo artist immediately talked me out of my finger tattoo. He told me they require a lot of upkeep and touch ups. I wasn’t really trying to do all of that or make any super spur of the moment decisions, so I let it go. At this point is where I honestly started getting nervous that my sister might not do it. That is exactly why I decided she should go first. We started filling out the paperwork and the artist told us he’s been doing tattoos for less than a year. This caused a slight pause for us, but he was inexpensive and we figured our design was simple.
I watched my sister get her tattoo and it really made me happy. It was a really fun shared experience for us. Even better was having our aunt there to laugh and joke with us. Soon it was my turn. I’m not even gonna lie, it hurt. It felt like continuously being scratched. Somehow, I was still super calm and smiling the majority of the time. The tattoo artist assumed this wasn’t my first tattoo because I was so ready for it. When all was said and done, me and my sister walked away with a great story and a lifelong mark of being sisters who love each other.
This experience taught me a few things. The number one thing was to have open expectations. I think getting my first tattoo as something just for me wouldn’t have held as much weight. Having a shared experience with my family starting with picking the design all the way to the actual execution was everything. It really made it better than I could have imagined. However, next time I would definitely make an appointment somewhere. Walk-in tattoos may not be the move going forward. That part of the story wasn’t going with the flow as much as it was just poor planning.
The next time we place expectations on something we’ve wanted for a while, I’d like to encourage us not to think small. An open heart and an open mind will get us much further than a strict plan will.