When I was in college I went through the oh so typical drunken episode of ALMOST getting a tattoo but at the end didn’t. What saved me at that time was a law that prohibited tattooing someone under the influence. The guy told me, “Come back tomorrow when you are sober and I’ll give you your cool.” I don’t know why but this comment made me seriously rethink the whole tattoo plan. You will give me “my cool”? Hmmm…I had never seen it from that angle…

I want to make clear that I don’t intend to dissuade anyone from getting a tattoo, this is a very personal choice and it should be made by you and you alone. My point is, know exactly what you are getting into. A tattoo is not something you get for a few hours, days, or weeks…it’s “in principle” for life. Anything that will accompany you to your grave, should be given careful consideration. If your reasoning is sound, the below questions should be easy to navigate:

1. Has there ever been an article of clothing (shirt, pants, hat, scarf, wristband, armband, etc.) that I would want to wear for the rest of my life?

2. What if the tattoo artist makes a mistake?

This happens so often, there are now TV series based on this “blooper”. You have to keep this as a possibility so you can give yourself an idea of where you stand if things were to go south.

3. How safe is the ink that will be injected into my body?

Asking a tattoo artist if the ink is safe is the same as asking a stock broker if the investment they are pitching is going to make you rich. You know the answer will ALWAYS be EXACTLY what you want to hear. How do you know that the ink being used is truly not going to cause a disease later on in life? What sort of scientific research has been done for exactly that sort and brand of ink? This research has been certified by which entity? How do you know the ink in the tube is really from an accredited factory? Can you know 100% for sure, the person tattooing you didn’t refill the “tattoo ink” with ink from the printer?

4. What would happen if I don’t get a tattoo?

Will my friends desert me? Will my partner wave me goodbye? Will the sun not rise tomorrow? What are the actual consequences of not going through with this tattoo?

5. Am I cool with reducing the amount of potential partners I could have in the future?

What if I meet my dream partner, and I get rejected because of my tattoo? How many people out there actually like tattoos on their partner? One thing is liking tattoos, and another is “on your partner”….2 very very very different things.

6. Is it a good career move to limit the amount of jobs I can apply for in the future?

Perhaps not going out on a limb by saying there are way more jobs where tattoos are discouraged than encouraged. There will be a very few jobs were having a tattoo is a plus. Assess the impact this tattoo might have on your career.

7. If this goes wrong or I simply change my mind later…how am I going to remove or erase the tattoo?

Using laser to remove a tattoo is a very costly and time consuming procedure, and it often doesn’t completely remove it…making it look like a washed out blob on your skin. Am I cool with this? Perhaps I can try laserless tattoo removal?

8. What if my tattoo gets mistaken as a connection to a criminal gang?

I don’t need to explain how serious this is or how serious this could become. Make sure you don’t accidentally end up with a tattoo that attracts the wrong kind of attention, or downright huge trouble.

9. Why am I really doing this? Is it to fit in?

Cover up insecurities? Feel tougher? Cooler? You should have a good explanation -to yourself at least- as to why you want to permanently draw something on your skin.

10. How will this tattoo look 10, 20, 30 years from now?

A tattoo might look cool now, but what happens when I get older and my skin sags? Will it make my aging look a lot worse than what it is?

11. What benefits/changes/improvements do I expect to achieve in my life by getting this tattoo?

Once you get this tattoo, what will change? What will be better?

12. What happens when this particular tattoo becomes outdated or out of fashion?

Whatever we perceive as “cool” now has never ever lasted more than a few years -at most. Platform shoes, sideburns, puffy jackets, perms, cargo pants…has any trend lasted more than a handful of years? Are you ok with being totally out of sync with fashion for years on end?

13. Is this an example I would want my future sons and daughters to follow?

This might be the toughest question of all. So is this example you want them to also follow?

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