I started getting my tattoos as part of a conscious choice to acknowledge my life changing drastically from an employed member of the work force who occasionally had health issues to a mostly unemployed life where I need to find myself and on days when I'm not sick in bed, re engage with my hobbies to keep me interested in life. In the last six months I've worked on knitting, crochet, cross stitch, embroidery, beaded bracelets, rock painting, wood painting, and as of yesterday, rock carving and wood carving. It's fascinating how all those art forms overlap, especially with placement and design. I studied a lot of Instagram tattoo accounts including the design and execution. I always felt like I wasn't as good at drawing as I should be to really be an "artist", but for whatever reason watching the tattoo artists sketch and plan their art has given me more confidence and hopefully skill :) Plus I love my tattoos and being able to see them on my arm is really inspirational to me, helping me feel better about myself, having something about myself that I think is beautiful and won't be gone in the morning like a good hair day!
I had a reaper done on my rib area 2 months ago. The 1st session, I was fine for it. I sat like the dead for it. I took 2 prescription percocets and I was good. Same formula for the 2nd session, only this one was painful as heck, good thing it only took an hour. Funny how 2 sessions with about the same conditions and I had different reactions.
I didn't really expect to learn anything from getting tattooed, or for tattoos to change me in any way. I got my first one due to an interest in the art form and out of curiosity/a desire to take a risk and experience something new. The whole process of getting tattooed (everything from planning the design to scheduling the appointment to waiting for the appointment to trusting the artist to not F*** up your skin to living with the work after it's done) has been so much more fascinating and fulfilling than I could have ever imagined.
I think getting tattooed is a pretty intense trust exercise. You approach an artist - who's probably a stranger, describe what you have in mind, and trust that they'll be able to execute your vision and put it in the right spot and apply it with proper technique. Even after you approve the sketch, you have to trust that it will transfer well to skin, and that the color palette will match (or be better than) what you imagined. All that can be nerve-wracking, but as someone who loves to control everything she can and worries incessantly about plenty of things she can't, there's something incredibly therapeutic about relinquishing control and putting trust in a stranger to put something beautiful and permanent on your body.
My tattoos have also been a great exercise in acceptance. My control-freak nature also comes with a healthy dose of perfectionism (and a propensity for not taking risks), but with my tattoos I've had to let that go. I think I have great tattoos, but of course they have their flaws, and learning to live with and accept them has been healthy for me, I think. I made a choice to get tattooed, trusted my artists, and have to accept the work as it is because it's there forever whether it turned out like I planned it or not.
Lastly, I never expected getting tattooed to be so FUN. Not that I explicitly enjoy the needles-boring-into-my-skin part, but the excitement and ritual leading up to tattoo day, hanging out in shops, seeing the huge lovely flash collections on the walls, and meeting interesting people has been so delightful.