What do you see when you stand in front of a mirror?
Throw away the usual “myself” answer and really think about it.
Some people see their imperfections. Others see their entire lifetime, struggles, challenges, successes and all. Looking at yourself can be a complicated process with very different outcomes.
Well, unless you’re Ellen DeGeneres, then you always see awesomeness.
Now think about tattoos, whether you’re the “I like this unicorn picture, I want it on my forearm” or the “I went through some deep shit and now I need it on my body as a reminder” type of person, tattoos are a reflection of who you are, just like mirrors. Sometimes, a very complex one.
First impressions can sometimes shape a person’s entire attitude towards you and tattoos are a large part of that. Do you want them to be an accurate representation of you as a person? You can play the “I don’t care card” and disregard all this, but let’s face it, most of us care what others think about us, especially if we want to leave a good impression. In other words, you might want to re-think that Jesus tattoo you’re pondering on just because it’s “cool”.
The amount of inked people I’ve met with no idea what their tattoos symbolize is almost as frightening as that time my mom told me she likes Putin. I tend to assume that if someone plasters something on his body and makes it visible to everyone, he won’t mind talking about it, so I like asking the occasional question. My favorite answer so far is “yeah, man, it’s some kind of a badass women that was a feminist or something” from a guy with a Mary Magdalene tattoo taking up his entire back. I pride myself on not being a super judgmental person, but what would your first impression be in this case?
I thought so. First impressions used to be all about body language and how you express yourself, but if you think about it, tattoos are just an extension of that. They are one of the most imaginative forms of self-expression and often serve as a conversation starter as well. Every inked person I’ve met is proud or wants to be proud of his tattoos, and he (unfortunately and maybe subconsciously) often searches for others’ approval to accomplish that. These approvals or disapprovals are often formed the first time someone sees you, whether you want it or not, it’s in our nature to assume, so no surprise there.
Bottom line: Trust me, I’m not saying choose tattoos that other people will like, I’m saying: be careful with the way you express yourself permanently, because it may paint you as a completely different person than the one you are (or trying to be), and that may disappoint you in the long-run.
Coming from someone who thought long and hard before finally opening the door to that tattoo parlor: it’s worth it.