Tattoos and piercings are everywhere these days. Literally. Not even genitalia are safe. They’ve become so normal amongst my generation, that I find myself in the minority as a person who has neither inked their skin or impaled their body.
That is not to say that I am against such forms of expression. Much to the horror of my parents, I have openly contemplated getting one or the other, but much to their relief, I have not yet gone through with the idea. They worry that getting a tattoo or piercing will turn me into some sort of thug, who lurks on the street at night, mugging old women and spray-painting ‘Charles woz here’ on the side of buildings. Shaving my head was enough to make them question my sanity.
‘YOLO’ has become a rallying cry for this generation. It’s an admirable phrase to live by, although it often seems to be used to justify that next tequila shot rather than doing any greater good in the world. But the sentiment is solid. We do only live once and so should make the most of our times on Earth.
It is this notion that has tempted me to get a tattoo, preferably while I am still young enough to pass it off as ‘youthful hijinks’. Having just turned 23, and with graduation from university looming close to the horizon, time for an acceptable regrettable tattoo is fast running out. Soon my mistakes will be seen as just that; mistakes, rather than a comic caper fuelled by youthful exuberance.
I’m very much of the belief that your teens and early-twenties are a time for making mistakes, ones that you can look back on in later years with a fond smile, and teach you lessons that can one day be passed down to – and ignored by – your children.
I’ve already learnt that a bottle of vodka in one night is not a wise idea. Nor is going on Amazon after that bottle of vodka with your debit card next to you. These are mistakes we must make at some point as no one is going to make them for you. And so it is the same with a tattoo, especially a bad one.
I’m only young once and if I want to ink my skin then why shouldn’t I? What’s the worst that can happen? (Let’s not go down the route of dirty needles, infection, death, etc). Realistically I will look back and think, ‘shit, I don’t like this’, but at least I have learnt my lesson, gained a story, and with laser removal becoming increasingly common, tattoos are no longer seen as a lifetime commitment.
That is not to say I aim to get a tattoo I regret: if I do ever get one then it’s one I want to having ‘meaning’ (as wanky as that sounds), and one that I am proud of. Tattoos are still a commitment, and a painful one at that, but if I’m going to make a mistake, then I may as well make it when I’m still young enough to learn from it.
Image courtesy of Marina Setti