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Facing Fears: Tattoo

I've been on this kick lately of facing my fears. Instead of letting them hold me back, I face them head on and see what's on the other side. As a person who has had an unhealthy relationship with anxiety and fear, I know how soul-crushing fears can be. I've gotten myself wrapped up in the what-ifs. I've felt myself descend into the clutches of fear. I've had way too many panic attacks to count. Too many times when I've been literally paralyzed by fear.

Recently, something clicked. And I decided to stop letting fear take hold of me. I decided to start doing things that scared me. Because I started getting a rush of adrenaline when I did something that I was afraid of.

One fear I conquered recently: getting a tattoo.

I've been wanting a tattoo for a while. A long time. Like almost a decade. The designs varied, but the desire stayed the same. I wavered between getting one and not getting one for years. I'd get jealous of my friends that had sweet artwork. Every time I asked someone about the process, they all said the same thing, "It didn't hurt that much. Just scratches."

The pain was the biggest deterrent for me. More so that the whole it's permanent and you'll have to live with it for the rest of your life or face expensive and painful tattoo removal rhetoric. But over the past month, I'd built up the courage to go out and get my first tattoo. True story, I almost got one when I was in PDX, but decided against it because I hadn't researched any artists there.

On a stretch of five days off, I texted a friend to see if she was off on a specific day. If she was, then she'd accompany me on my journey to get my first tattoo.

I didn't make an appointment. I'd done my research on shops in my area and had decided on this specific shop a few months prior. I knew the phrase that I wanted tattooed ("not all who wander are lost" - sup Tolkien fans!) and the location on my body. I was equal parts excited and nervous.

We walked into the shop that had opened thirty minutes prior and I went in with guns blazing. I explained to the artists what I wanted, how I wanted it, and where I wanted it. The artist, Brandi, told me that the font I'd chosen wouldn't look good in as little as a year. Meaning, the letters would've bled together and it'd look sorta fuzzy. So, I asked her to design it for me. About 15 minutes later, Brandi had a nice little design drawn up. The phrase looked amazing. Before I knew it, I was in the chair, getting ready to be tatted up.

Brandi tapped my shoulder (the area where I was getting tattooed) with the tattoo gun to show me what the pain would be like. Oh. That's it. It feels just as I expected it to feel. Scratches. A few parts were more sensitive than others, but it wasn't anything that I couldn't handle. 30 minutes and it was over. And it looks beautiful. And I'm already designing my next four LOL.

My tattoo means so much to me in this time of my life. It represents me facing my fear of getting tattooed. It represents my love for travel and exploration and undying wanderlust. It's a nod to my ENFP personality - someone who has a million ideas and doesn't follow through on all of them, but is still fiercely ambitious and working towards long-term goals. It represents life being about the journey rather than the destination. Though it may look like I'm wandering, I'm never lost. Simply exploring.

I encourage you, dear reader, to do something this week that scares you. Something that has scared you for a while. Something that is holding you back ever so slightly. Something that you can learn and grow from.

Here's to facing fears and getting tattoos,

- j

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