Last night, I got my first tattoo. It’s something I’ve been ramping up the courage to do for two years. I’m so proud of myself for finally taking the plunge and getting one done.
It’s a small semicolon (;) that rides its way up my left wrist. It’s still a bit sore and red from the inflammation, but I’m starting to like it.
Do mind that I’m in no way an expert and I just got a small tattoo that is just an inch long. I planned on getting it done with the company of my best friend and his girlfriend, but an unfortunate news came up and we had to bail.
However, I was determined enough to move on without them. I arrived at the tattoo studio with a couple of my pals and I was inwardly an absolute wreck. My artist showed me my design and I had a quick look and gulped down a little bit of sick. He put the stencil on my forearm and again I distracted myself from everything going on around me while we waited for it to dry.
I have a fear of needles, and pain. I was 100% sure this was what I wanted but the fear of pain was almost too much. Deep breathes.
I laid my arm on the table and he prepped the ink. Then it was time to go. He did a tiny bit at first so I could adjust to the pain. I didn’t feel much of a pain and was just like a tiny scratch. A couple of minutes in and it starts to sting like a wasp. He finished the outline, scrubbed the blood and ink and gave me a quick breather to cope. I noticed that the outlines weren’t dark and so I asked him about it. He replied that it is going to take 6–7 rounds of going over the same lines before the ink actually resided in the skin. The pain is bearable but the thought of going through the bleeding area again made my stomach churn. But, I couldn’t quit as it would pretty much leave me with a damaged, unfinished tattoo. So, I grinned and bore with it.
The shading wasn’t much painful as the outlines, but going through the third and fourth rounds, it hurt, a lot. He ended up chatting with me and trying to make me laugh all along and that seemed to numb my pain a bit. If you’re going to get a tattoo done, I strongly recommend listening to music or browsing as opposed to blandly staring at the tattoo like I did. Keep yourself as distracted as possible.
What was the back story?
On my turf, getting a tattoo is somewhat considered an unorthodox practice. So, it took me a while to finally go ahead and spill the beans about it to my friends who readily accepted the idea of it.
I wanted my first tattoo to be one with a deep meaning and I think I made a right choice in picking up something small and simple enough to hold my thoughts.
The reason for choosing a semicolon in particular, apart from my general love for programming, references from 13 Reasons Why and trying to match a tattoo with Selena Gomez, is that it marks the end of my old life and the start of a new one.
I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder since childhood. Despite it growing weak during the past few months, I don’t think it is ever going to leave me alone. It took me a lot of courage to break out of my earlier habits and quit old life.
The sickness didn’t abruptly start on my way to college, but was a gradual outbreak from the environment I grew up in. I was always surrounded by my mom during my childhood and she never left me alone. But, ever since we moved from mom’s home town to Tirupati, I was dragged into this state of limbo. My school ended at around 4PM and mom usually reached home before me. But whenever, mom was late, I worried about her so much that I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. I stared my watch, worrying and imagining the worst that could happen to her — picturing road accidents and drowning in fear for no particular reason. My heart pounded faster, hands and legs trembled and sweat drops trickled down my palms. I remember calling her a million times just to make sure she was fine. Only when she came home could I finally relax and let down my guard. This was just the first phase of my growing sickness. Over the years it branched out into several aspects of my life that I literally felt like I’m running for my dear life.
Over the past couple of years, I built a strong inner circle of friends and family that I could discuss my fears and problems with. They were my only ray of hope who tugged me along through these episodes. I learnt to talk it out with them when my worries started spiraling out and it seems to work out fine.
So, this tiny little tattoo is in fact my homage to Project Semicolon that has been saving thousands of lives of people suffering with similar mental health disorders.
How do I feel about it now?
I’m absolutely in love with it. It’s made me feel mentally stronger and open to sharing my thoughts with others facing similar social stigma.
One thing it’s made me realise though is how much I actually care about other people’s opinion. And I know I shouldn’t, trust me I know, and logically I don’t care. It’s my body, I didn’t get this tattoo for anyone other than myself, and if you don’t like it that’s not my problem. But irrationally, I still give a damn. Not everyone will appreciate your tattoo, just as some people don’t like certain clothes or haircuts. It’s a matter of taste. The negative comments on something so permanent is definitely something you have to learn to deal with.
Anyway, I’m still ridiculously happy with it and I keep having a peek at it and my face is like a heart-eyed emoji. Massive thanks to my lovely tattoo artist for putting up with my twitches and flinches, and letting me almost break his hand by holding it tight. It’s healing well and I absolutely feel a bit more confident each day.