I've wanted to have tattoos for as long as I can remember. I can exactly picture that when I was 14, all I wanted was to eternalize a camera on the skin of my arm (and I'm so happy I didn't do that), and when I was 12 all I did was scroll through my Tumblr-feed which was filled with beautiful tattoos. When a few months ago my dear grandparents spontaneously gave me a lovely amount of money I immediately knew what to do with it. I quickly emailed a tattoo artist I'd been eyeing on for some time and on the 2nd of January my sweet mother and I traveled to Utrecht to spend a beautiful day together, and to end it with a fresh tattoo.
I sure was a bit nervous, but nothing abnormal was happening inside my head. I loved the unique design, trusted the tattoo artist, and above all - I was extremely excited.
The stencil was applied and I must be honest, I kind of jumped when I looked at my arm - because wow, the design looked húge on my medium-sized arm. I didn't think too much of it, though - the tattoo on my upper arm also startled me at first.
3 hours were spent in the chair at the tattoo parlor. The pain was absolutely bearable, only the last half hour was quite painful. I was a bit dizzy, didn't really dare to look at my arm and asked my mother to help me put on my coat. I was happy, mostly because the painful process was finally done.
Once I got home I washed the tattoo and still felt a bit tight - I wasn't used to the idea of having such a humongous thing on my arm. I however thought the strange feeling was part of the deal, didn't think too much of it again, slapped some Bepanthen onto the wound and went to bed.
The next morning was the strangest morning of my life. Once I woke up I yawningly walked into the bathroom to take a quick shower. When I unbuttoned my pyjama top and saw my arm, my eyes went black and my head suddenly felt very light. I knew I was going to faint so I lied on my parents' fluffy bath mat and waited for the rush to be over.
When I got up again a feeling I had only felt a few times before crept upon me: regret. I felt it in every molecule of my body, it buzzed through my head and arm. I'd never find a normal job again. I'd never be able to wear a dress and look pretty anymore. I'd always be a tattooed person, which felt terrible even though I'd always wanted to be just that.
I didn't mention my feelings to my parents - I didn't want to upset them. When I showed this new acquisition to my grandparents my grandmother's response made me feel even more intensely sad - she didn't respond half as positively as she had to my other tattoos. I was extremely sad and the sense of regret wouldn't fade.
I had been at my parents' house for the Christmas break for the few days before the appointment, and I traveled back to Amsterdam only 2 days after getting tattooed. When I got there I was alone and that's when the Googling started. I looked up laser treatments. Thought of ways to collect thousands of euros just to remove this silly mistake I'd made. Browsed websites to find sweaters and shirts with long sleeves so hiding the tattoo wouldn't be hard. Kept my left sleeve down, so I didn't have to see the beautiful artwork that I could only perceive as an ugly scar.
My mother was a huge help back then. I'd decided to tell her after all, and all of her thoughtful messages summarized sounded somewhat like 'Sjoukje, it's a beautiful tattoo. You heavily adjusted quite an important body part, it's logical and it makes sense that your eyes have to get used to it, that your head has to get used to it. It will be okay, trust me.' I really appreciated her support but I didn't really think it would be alright, because why, Sjoukje, why!!! was the only thought that kept on racing through my head.
At a certain moment my endless Googling got me on a forum created by people that felt the same thing - people who also had given major thought to their decision and now regretted their new eternal design, people who could only think of and see their design even when the body part was covered. This really helped me - the feeling wasn't gone yet, but I knew it could get better. I just had to give it some time.
All the while almost 2 weeks have passed and I think my tattoo is really beautiful. It fortunately isn't the only thing I can think of anymore, I finally dare to wear shorter sleeves again and I realize that these are the things that make me mé. I've been thinking of getting a sleeve done but I've stalled this idea - my response to this new tattoo really got me thinking about my decisions and how I make them and deal with them. I wanted to share this post because apparently many recently-tattoeed people experience similar feelings: the love you had expected to feel is absent and instead of that your whole body seems to be filled with regret. Try to give it some time though, talk about it with supportive family and friends (!!) and don't make stupid decisions. Everything will be absolutely fine, and if you just relax for a few weeks and not give it too much thought, you will finally have the peace and quiet to really enjoy the beautiful acquisition once your body feels ready.