When I was in my late teens and early 20s, a lot of people I knew were getting tattoos. I certainly considered it myself on occasion, however I always ended up dismissing the idea fairly quickly because I couldn't think of a design significant enough to permanently imprint on my body.
Then, almost two years ago, my mother was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. It came as a huge shock to all of us, and all of a sudden I had an urgent desire to permanently honour our relationship and my heritage. I also experienced a sharp realisation that life is short, and so I made the decision to get my first tattoo.
My mother raised me and my older sister as a single, working parent, and the three of us are incredibly close. It was an easy decision then to have my maiden name tattooed somewhere on my body.
After several "trial runs" in which my sister scribbled designs on my hands, neck, behind my ear and wrists, I eventually decided on my right rib cage, as that is where the cancer originated for mum and it also meant I could choose to have it hidden if I wanted to.
Most of the people I told about my decision were excited for me and had lots of questions about the reason for the design. Those who already had tattoos gave me advice and warned me of their addictive nature.
Some were very unhappy about my choice. It was surprising to me that anyone would care that much about what I did to my body. Fortunately my natural reaction to being told not to do something is to want it even more.
After booking and paying the deposit, I cancelled and rescheduled several times before I finally got up the courage to take the plunge. Walking into the tattoo parlour, I was a bundle of nerves and immediately felt completely out of place. Everyone was covered in tattoos and there I was, shaking at the idea of receiving my first tiny design.
Thankfully, I was quickly put at ease by an amazing tattoo artist and the entire process was quick, professional and simple. I felt no pain and in around 15 minutes I was the proud owner of my first bit of ink. It was quite possibly the smallest design they have ever done, and almost everyone who has seen it has commented on how tiny it is, but I absolutely love it and I am fairly certain I will be back in that chair again one day.
- Christy Kidner is an editorial administrator at The Canberra Times.