The 5 Stages of Grief and Your New Tattoo

So I just got my first “real” tattoo.

All of my other 8 tattoos have been script/roman numerals. I’m a writer, ok? I really like words. (There seems to be some type of stigma associated with getting font tattooed on your body in tattoo culture.)

One of my other tattoos.

Anyway! So for my 9th tattoo, I finally got some real art done by a fantastic artist based out of Virginia. It was my first big piece of work and I’m a little surprised by how I coped with it.

The tattoo this article is about (one of my biggest pieces!).

Getting a tattoo is a weird process—after the fact, I might add. It’s saying goodbye to the skin on that part of your body forever. You’ll never see it again. You now have to see—insert whatever it is you got tattooed on your body—every day.

What I went through was a little like the five stages of grief with my new tattoo.

Denial: It’s Not Really There!

If you’ve gotten a tattoo before, you have experienced this.

Immediately after you get your tattoo, you love it. You show everyone. It’s fresh. It looks amazing!

You wake up the next morning and you’re like, “WHAT. IS. THAT.”

It’s not that you didn’t remember that you got it done. It’s just that… well, it’s a part of you now. Like really a part of you. For the first couple hours after I got my tattoo, I was like, “Whoa. What is that thing?” By the next morning, I remembered that it was there.

But while it was healing, it didn’t seem like it was a part of my body. It almost looked like a shiny new sticker that I could just peel right off. Despite the fact that while I was washing it and could feel the lines inked into my skin, I thought, “It’s not really there! Nothing’s different!”

Anger: Why Did I Get That?

Not everyone has welcome reactions to your new ink.

Mom: “IT’S HUGE! How much did that cost? What?? Why?!!!”

Bestie: “DUDE IT’S FUCKING AMAZING YOU’RE AMAZING I LOVE IT AHHH!!!!!!!!!”

Fiancé: “Wow it looks sexy, you’re sexy, I love you.” *kiss*

Grandma: *insert slapping motion here* (Yes, she literally slapped my tattoo three days after I got it. I have not yet forgiven her.)

Regardless of people’s reactions (or on account of people’s reactions, whatever), you start to feel mad. Why did I get that? You think. You also see your credit card statement of how much it cost and, let’s face it, wake up the next morning feeling like shit because that part of your body is swollen and sore and red and you can’t wear clothes that cover it and you feel like you just hate everything.

Bargaining: If Only I Could Change This…

I saw a great YouTube video about tattoo regret and it really resonated with me, not necessarily because I have any tattoos I regret per se, but because she makes a great point.

You will always wonder:

  • What if I got it smaller/bigger?
  • What if I got it in color/black and grey?
  • What if I went to a different artist/shop?
  • What if I just had them change this little part of it?
  • What if I had gotten something different?
  • What if I didn’t get anything at all???

You bargain. You wonder what could have been changed. You think about changing it in the future. In my experience, the only reason I have wondered these things is because I am still grappling with my new tattoo.

I’m still processing it.

I don’t know what to think about it.

And, it’s not perfect.

Because nothing is ever perfect no matter how much we want it to be. Does my tattoo show imperfection? Of course. But, like me, it’s still beautiful.

Depression: I’ll Never Have Naked Skin Again

At some point, you start to feel depressed that you have this tattoo. You spent a bunch of money, spent hours in pain, and are now spending weeks taking care of it, resentfully avoiding the bathtub and wondering when you’ll ever feel normal again.

Me getting my tattoo done. That’s my leg ahhh.
I was freezing during this appointment! Next time remember to bring a sweater or a blanket, girl.

And then you realize that you’ll never BE normal again. Because you have this tattoo and you don’t know how to handle it. You know you’ll never see the skin on the other side of that tattoo again. What are you going to do??

You’re going to deal with it and you’re going to be just fine. Your skin is ruined, yes. But now you have this beautiful, imperfect tattoo as part of you, another mark of your journey here that you’ll hopefully grow to love and accept.

Acceptance: I Actually Like It!

Finally, once your tattoo heals a little more and it stops looking like a giant sticker, once your mom has stopped commenting on it and you can stop sleeping in weird positions to avoid rubbing it, you begin to accept and love your tattoo.

It’ll take at least a week or two, but you’ll realize that this tattoo is what you wanted and that it looks beautiful. It’s not perfect, but it’s you.

Side note: if you really hate your new tattoo or it has a major flaw you just can’t get over, you might not ever get to this stage, and instead you can seek out a tattoo artist who is experienced with cover-ups and get it taken care of. Laser removal is also an option, but I’ve heard it’s more costly and painful!

Do You Love Your Tattoo Yet?

It’s taken me a little while, but I love my new tattoo.

I’m grateful to the artist and his patience with my first big piece (thank you @tokatattoos), I’m grateful to have a beautifully designed tattoo, and I’m grateful it didn’t get infected while it was healing.

I’m also grateful that my rabbits didn’t scratch it, although Fiver did bite my leg ridiculously close to it, adorable little bastard. He’s literally never bitten me before and he chooses to bite my leg the day after I get a giant tattoo. I think it’s because the tattoo butter I used had lavender in it? Rabbits love herbs!

Don’t let this evil little thing fool you. I love him, though.

Give your tattoo some time, show it some love, and let your body heal. You’ll like your tattoo soon!

155 thoughts on “The 5 Stages of Grief and Your New Tattoo

  • Thank you for your words. I’m up to the tattoo regret part at the moment and have gone through many pages looking at removal options but then I thought, why not do a 180 and learn to love the tattoo instead, and stumbled upon your piece. I share your sentiments and appreciate your words. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one going through or have gone through these emotions. Thank you.

    • Thanks for your comment Kimberley! If you are really having trouble accepting your tattoo you could always look into getting it covered with another design. I know it’s like paying twice for the same tattoo, but for some people, it makes a big difference and enables them to finally love their ink!

    • I got a tattoo a few days ago, and I absolutely am beside myself. I hate it, everytime I look at my new tattoo, I get anxiety and want to cry. Why? Because it’s huge and it’s absolutely nothing that I wanted. It looks like a tramp stamp and it’s super dark.

      The artist didn’t listen to what I wanted and did what he thought looked cool.

      I’ve been researching removals but my tattoo is so fresh I can’t do anything until it’s healed.

      For those who are adamant about removal and can’t love the tattoo what should we do?

      I feel miserable and unsure if I’m allowed to put makeup on it to cover it

      • Oh no, so sorry to hear this :(! What you decide to do is completely up to you. Removal is definitely an option, although as you said, you need to wait for it to heal first. I wouldn’t recommend putting makeup over it unless your tattoo artist says it’s ok. You don’t want to end up with an infected tattoo and an even worse situation. Whatever you decide to do, best of luck to you!

      • Breathe and don’t obsess over it. Take good care of it and allow it to properly heal. Once it’s healed you may feel very different. I have 9 tattoo. I’ve regretted every single one throughout the healing process but once it’s fully healed You see it differently and your skin looks better so you may actually really like it. I’m currently regretting my newest tattoo because I feel I got it in the wrong place and it’s too dark. But in two weeks I will check in with myself again and go from there. I recommend getting It covered instead of removal if you still decide you don’t like it. It’s just skin at the end of the day, when we’re old and wrinkled it won’t matter anyway and then you die (:

        • I’m late to this post, but I just got a tattoo on my arm and I am so stressed out about it!! It’s next to a different tatto in red ink and they just don’t match at all. Don’t know how to fill up the rest of my arm. What did I do?!

          • Hi Samantha! That stinks that you’re stressing about your new ink! I actually love the way red ink looks, especially next to other colors and black, but I get that it feels like a mismatch to you. Give it time and I imagine you’ll have some really cool ideas for how to fill in your arm when the time comes!

    • Thank you for writing this 🥰 you helped me through this journey .

    • I’ve been feeling these stages and my memory is crap so I need to be reminded I go through this with every tattoo. I’m currently working on a back piece and it has been a roller coaster of emotions because it’s not something I ever envisioned for myself, but once I saw the artwork I was drawn to it. Completely altering your self image in what you previously found “beautiful” is insane. Because it’s such a large piece I go through these stages after each new session haha. I’ll be happy when it’s done and I can see the full picture and see it as a part of who I am.

      • Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment! I too got a (larger) back piece that I never imagined myself having but felt so drawn to it. I love it so much and can’t imagine not having it now; getting it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I can totally get that you’re going through these emotional stages after every session with yours. Be patient and I hope that when it’s complete, you’ll love it and feel happy with your decision! Best of luck 🙂

    • Hey Kimberly and Jen.
      I feel the same way about my most recent tattoo. It’s my 7th one but the main reason I feel regret (or more like I should have got it in a different part of my body) is because I chose a very visible part of my body. My other tattoos are not always visible but this one is there every time I look in the mirror and it’s odd to see my arm and look at it every time.
      I had been thinking about getting this Frida Kahlo tattoo for almost two years now but something always stopped me. So last Friday (exactly a week ago) I followed an impulse and did it.
      I loved the result at first but then my parents reaction changed my perspective about it, so ever since that I find it hard to adapt to look at it.
      Jen, I empathise with you in every step and I’m very grateful for finding your article so thank you for sharing your experience.
      I just hope I get the “This tattoo is what you wanted and that it looks beautiful. It’s not perfect, but it’s you” bit soon because a reason why I wanted it is because it represents my Mexican culture and a strong woman who went through a lot. I just wish I had done it in my back or somewhere less visible.

      Again, thank you for sharing.

      • Leilani, I’m sorry your parents’ reaction changed the way you feel about your tattoo 🙁 Your tattoo sounds very cool and I think the placement sounds great too, but I can understand that it’s much more visible than your other ones, which can always be an adjustment to get used to. However, don’t get your parents’ feelings about it mixed up with your own. In my experience, people who don’t have tattoos can’t understand what it’s like adjusting to a new piece, and they don’t understand the effect their negative comments/reactions have on us sensitive people who have just gotten tattooed with a brand-new permanent piece of art. I hope in time you’ll feel more accepting of your tattoo and its placement!

  • I just got a tattoo on 20th, few days ago, I had been planning on getting one to honor my late father whom I love and miss dearly, and a trident representing his devotion to lord Shiva, I had been planning on this tattoo for the past 2 years, ( since his passing)) I also got my mom’s name tattooed as well its on my fore arm.
    I didn’t think I could feel this way once I got it, I was never a tattoo person so I knew why I didn’t want it before.
    after I got it , I loved it when I got home spoke to my mom and sister on the phone they didn’t say much. My other sister, friends and colleagues love it Now here I am, looking if I can get ti removed in future, what id people judge me, what if it goes ugly? I didn’t know that tattoos age and spread and dont look the same..
    is it just the stage? Iwhat should I so? feel so confused

    • You are only a few days in! It’s completely normal to have these feelings about your new tattoo. Have patience and give yourself some time to adjust. Tattoos do age just as skin does, you can get it touched up as recommended by your tattoo artist to keep it looking as good as possible. I wouldn’t consider removal just yet–it’s still very early and experiencing some regret is normal. I’m seven months out from this huge tattoo I got and I actually can’t imagine not having it now. I hope you come to love your tattoos as they honor your parents and are a part of you now. Remember, what other people think about you is none of your business. Love yourself; everything will be ok!

  • I just got a large tattoo on my shoulder and upper arm 5 days ago and i’m totally feeling the regret right now. It’s a beautiful tattoo and it’s almost exactly what I wanted, but now it’s overwhelming me. I keep wishing I could turn back time and not do it at all. But I can’t, and that’s rough on me mentally. I’ve got 5 others that are smaller and not as visible, therefore, I’ve never felt this feeling before this new one. I’ve been contemplating removal, but i’m trying to tell myself to chill and just give it time. Hoping like hell, that it’ll get better. I hope I end up with the mindset that you have now.

    • Hey Elise, thanks for your comment! Your feelings are totally normal–you’re fortunate that your new tattoo is beautiful as you say and pretty much just what you wanted. I bet once your tattoo heals and you have some time to adjust to it you’ll feel much better about it. As I found, it can be difficult getting a bigger piece after getting smaller ones and dealing with all the emotions that come with it. Take care of your new tattoo and be patient. If you really want it removed after it heals, you can pursue that option, but allow yourself to process this new piece and grow to accept it for what it is right now. I hope you come to love it!

    • My husband passed away last year I got a cross on my forearm along with sun rays shining Down on it from blue clouds I was in such a state of grief that i wanted something to hold onto now but im kind of sorry I did it the tattoo didn’t bring him back I’m going to give it some time if I’m not happy in a few weeks I’m getting it lasered Off

      • Thank you for your comment, Nancy. I can understand your regret about your tattoo, even though it was (is?) a tribute to your late husband. I’ve heard lasering is very expensive, painful, and will leave a scar. You might want to consult a tattoo artist who has experience with cover-ups to see if that might be a better option for you. My sympathies to you for the loss of your husband, and my best wishes to you on your journey in remedying your tattoo, whatever it is you decide to do with it. If it were me I might give it a bit more time (in the grand scheme of tattoos, a year is a pretty short amount of time to have it), but only you know what’s best for you. Good luck!

  • WOW I needed this. I got my first tattoo, after 2 years of thinking, and i got my second one out of a whim. Anyway, I love the minimalist look, but i see other peoples tattoos with more detail and then i look at mine, wondering, i should of added more. Then I see those small imperfections, where a line isnt straight, or the size isnt the same. (I am very OCD) and i am always tempted to go back and touch it up. But what is the point? No matter what I will find imperfections. I am going to accept my tattoos both of them. The imperfections and flaws are what make them beautiful, it’s what makes them my own

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Susanna! You are absolutely right when you say that no matter what you will find imperfections. In addition, getting touch-ups may just make more room for you to perceive imperfections with it. No tattoo is perfect. And I can promise you that no one is noticing the flaws you’re noticing! You are also absolutely right when you say the imperfections are what make them beautiful and make them yours–beautifully said!

      • Jenn thank you for your comments I am now very comfortable with my tattoo it took me a little time. It is a tribute to my husband and I’m now comfortable with it.

      • Tracie Humphries

        Such a great article and just what I needed to read after getting a big tattoo yesterday…….I’m having the most trouble with other people’s opinions and reactions. It always makes me question myself..

        • I know it can be difficult to not be affected by other people’s opinions! This is your life and no one else’s. They don’t have to live with the tattoo, you do. If the tattoo you got is what you wanted, all you have to do is love and accept it! Thanks for sharing, Tracie 🙂

  • I hate my new tattoo. I thought I wanted it and what it is does have meaning for me . But I still wished I had not gotten it. I have another tattoo that I love but this new one I skilling me and I see it everyday when I take my shirt off in the mirror. I have never had anxiety like this before .

    • Thanks so much for your comment Spencer, and so sorry to hear you hate your new tattoo. How long has it been since you’ve gotten it? I’m hoping time will resolve your negative feelings about it; however, if it doesn’t, would you be able to get it covered up? I know larger tattoos can be difficult to cover. I hope you have some peace about your new ink eventually, even if that means getting it removed or doing what you need to do to feel better about it.

    • I’m so glad I stumbled upon this! I’ve been dreaming about getting my arm tattoo’d for years now. I feel ill 3 years ago and nearly died from a tick bite that gave me a rare parasite that lived in my spine and brain, heart and nervous system. I realized a lot during those times, and it was the darkest days ever. I made a promise to God I would love life to the fullest if he let me live. Long story short, 3 years later, I’m a new person. Hence why I want to shout it to the world and be true to me. Insert tattoo….that of wild flowers and my grandmas writing from a card she sent me when I was sick. I wasn’t prepared for the “oh my god what I have I done to myself” feeling and absolute remorse. Like some other wrote, I feel such anxiety when I look at my arm!!! I wish it would go away !! Your article has helped me and so have the comments. I hope everyone is in a better place now!

      • Thanks for sharing, Leigh, and glad the article and comments have been helpful! I’m so sorry to hear about your illness and hope you’re in better health now. The wildflowers sound very pretty, and I’m a fan of handwriting tattoos (having one myself)! It can certainly be anxiety-inducing getting a new piece. I hope you come to love your tattoo and continue to live life to the fullest!

  • I’m so glad you wrote this article! I got my first ( beautiful ) piece yesterday… but it isn’t *exactly* what I pictured and I keep swinging between moods of ‘ i shouldn’t have done that’ sadness and ‘what if it just had *insert teeny tiny tweak here*’. After reading so many unhelpful blogs about people who feel AMAZING after and “maybe you should have thought more before you got it” , this was really refreshing.

    • Thank you, Sophie! It feels like nothing in life turns out exactly how we imagine. I love my tattoo but it’s not perfect and that’s ok. I hope you come to love and accept your new piece!

  • Just had a forearm tattoo 2 days ago n the line are way too thick, black n bold. I feel sick to the stomach n gutted. Another artist has basically said it’s a bit of a mess n its way too thick lined n black that the artist had made a few of that kind of messes lately… i was too hasty n am now really angry n upset with myself n so upset that i didn’t have the guts to stop the session n let myself get worked by the guy, who i know was shakey but trying to do his best to please… i feel weak n ashamed, withdrawn emotionally n ‘stuck’ in a loop if u get me? It’s a horrid feeling. My husband really likes it, for what it represents ….
    I’m 54 ….We’re on honeymoon n i saved his life 5 days ago n nearly lost mine in the process n i so wanted to celebrate the limb that literally stopped him from drowning in a rip tide hundreds of yards from the shore in NZ waters n hate that i now hate the art on the forearm that kept him above the water n towed him for enough in for us both to be reached by others who started to wade out without threat to themselves .I am a gold standatd life saver n ex under national swimmer swam…. i so hard with the rest of my 9st little body that i nearly ran out if energy in the pull n despite all my power kept getting swept further out n feared i would drow the tat meant to signify that but doesn’t . All i see now is my weakness, stupidity, folly n impetuousness n am worried about the finished product and my capacity to move beyond the emotional stuckness. It feels so crap. So sorry to dump this but i need to reach out….

    • Hi Sarah, I’m so sorry about your feelings regarding your new tattoo. It sounds like it all happened so fast (the rescue of your husband and then the tattoo). You are probably still processing everything. It sounds like the tattoo represents something so significant, yet the thick black lines you describe and the feelings you have regarding moving forward with the session even though you didn’t feel quite right about it sound awful. I’m really sorry this all happened. You can’t do much until the tattoo heals anyway, so give it some time. You can always pursue a cover-up (maybe one as an honor to saving your husband just better?) or a removal. I hope you find some peace and forgiveness after everything… after all, you did save your husband and you both are alive and married and hopefully doing well. Sending much love and healing vibes!

  • I have two tattoos one of a butterfly on my shoulder and another of a rose on my hip. I love them both and both are hidden. Now I have a third tattoo of a little cute tortoise on my left wrist. The tortoise has a smile and is quite sweet. I got it to remind me to Slow Down and not rush through life. I like it one minute and not so sure about it the next. It is because this will be seen more by people due to it being on my wrist. It is about an inch long and an inch wide and I only have it two weeks. I too am at the regret stage but laser and the time it takes to remove it plus the cost does not seem like an option. I hope acceptance kicks in eventually.
    Kimberley

    • Thanks for your comment, Kimberley! I adore turtles and actually the huge tattoo I got that I wrote this article about was a sea turtle 🙂 In the last five months, I’ve gotten two more tattoos, both on my forearms and both very visible (one big one small). I can certainly understand what you’re saying about more people seeing your new tattoo. Your tortoise sounds very cute and I hope you come to love it. It can certainly be a shift going from having non-visible tattoos to very visible ones. This is your body and remember, what others think doesn’t matter!

  • Kim I lost my husband last December I grieved so much that I got a cross on my arm I awoke one morning seeing sun rays coming through the
    Clouds I believe it was my husband I had regret but it passed I live my tattoo now you will too give it time Nancy

  • Thank you for your article. I am regretting my tattoo I got on Friday. It was a cover up but the artist misplaced the stencil and then instead of free handing she just flat out didn’t cover my old tattoo! I tried reaching out and she won’t even return my calls. Now I feel like I’m not sure if I even want a tattoo on my skin from such an unprofessional rude person. Do you think if I got it fixed by another artist it would be easier to overlook the fact that I have art on my body from a jerk?

    • Hi Rachel! I’m so sorry your coverup went wrong 🙁 That sounds awful and the artist is not doing themselves or you any favors by avoiding the issue. (I’m wondering if the artist works at a shop and if so, you can contact the owner of the shop to discuss the problem or at least let them know what happened?) If you want to get it fixed by another artist, I would definitely go for it. It could help you feel better about the piece for sure. I wish you the best of luck!

      • Good evening! I am 45, just got my first tattoo yesterday. I am so glad I found this post and encourages me that I’m not the only one that is feeling this way as I am having regrets. I’m even at the point of feeling depressed. I have wanted a tattoo for a long time. Probably since I was a teenager. My husband (soon to be x) HATES tattoos. I guess I’m feeling guilty too. Anyway, months ago my mom and I decided to go get one together (her first too) so I’ve been researching tattoos daily! I kept on going back and forth, even up to the day. I originally had decided on an ocean wave with writing under it but I was scared it was too busy so in the end I opted for the word “FAITH” on my lower leg. I have been experiencing doubt lately with what I’m going through with a failing marriage and I’ve lost faith in God. I wanted the word “faith” to remind me to have faith in HIM and that he will take care of me no matter what I’m going through. Now I’m wishing I would of just stuck with a small wave more hidden. I have a job that it needs to be hidden and its on my inner lower leg. It looks big and the ink is spreading a bit/looks a little blurry. I was worried I was experiencing fallout but I guess this is part of the healing process. I’ve already googled removal. What is my problem? I hate this.

        • I’ve gone to a tattoo appointment and gotten something changed last minute too–with doubts afterward. In my experience, it’s normal to feel some depression/regret after getting a tattoo, especially if it didn’t turn out *exactly* like you pictured. It’s hard not to wonder if you would have been happy with the tattoo had you stuck with your original idea. It sounds like you need more time to process it, and you can always get it removed or covered up (although, in which case, the new tattoo would need to be even bigger than the old one, and that doesn’t sound like something you want). Regardless of what happens, I hope this tattoo–even with its imperfection and the doubt you feel–marks the start of a new journey for you after your divorce and a new life. I read something the other day that said, “Sometimes, when you’re in a dark place and feel like you’ve been buried, you’ve really just been planted.” I hope you grow and bloom!

          • I’ve had a couple earlier posts in this thread and I can relate. My most recent tattoo is something I’d wanted for a long time. I intended on doing black and grey and the night before my appt my daughter said she wanted it in color. Now, the tattoo is a rose, which was for her middle name, so I dedicated this to her. She was 8 at the time and I took her opinion to heart. I went in the next morning and asked if we could do color instead. I freaked after I got home. Wished I’d stuck with my original black and grey, plus the tat is huge and on my upper arm which freaked me out too. I have since accepted it, because it really is beautiful. I recently went in for a touch up and it really reinforced how nice it looks. I hope that you can come to love your tattoo as well.

  • I got a ghost tattoo around my birthday in October, and it’s really cute and I like it but the artist pressured me into getting a background on it. I’m still in the denial phase and it’s been over 6 months. It’s on my ankle too, so I can’t even cover it. When I try talking to my mom or sister about it they just tell me I should have never done it, but that advice doesn’t help me now.

    • Oh no! That’s certainly a tricky situation because I feel like people who get tattooed are always hearing “trust the artist” from professional tattoo artists. It sounds like you did exactly this but then ended up with something you didn’t want. It’s possible another artist could attempt to “fix” the background for you (or you could at least get a consultation with an artist you love to see what can be done). Family members can be critical of tattoos in my opinion, and you’re absolutely right, their “advice” doesn’t help you now. I hope that whatever happens, you’re able to feel some peace about your little ghost. Thanks for sharing, Kayla!

    • This article and the following comments have been helpful for me in the way that I can know that others are going through the same feelings as I am, so I dont feel so tramatized, because my tattoo ( A bare branchy Tree that takes up the space of my whole upper back, a picture which I had drawn myself 10 years prior to getting the tattoo, then one night a year ago got it tattooed on my back because it made me feel like I was a bad ass taking on the world at the moment. Then just like the rest of you, I realized shortly after getting it that I had made a big permenant mistake, and just wanted my innocent skin back, and still do every time I see it. Oh, and I still dont know if the things people were saying, and the looks on peoples faces when I caught there reflections from behind were reactions to my tattoo, or if I was in a state of paranoia and taking things out of context. This experience was coupled with having to also recover from shaving my head (I had long hair) and it was just weeks prior to getting the tattoo).. also very tramatizing. Still recovering. Never will be the same. But I will take the kind advise to try and find reasons to love my tattoo, and my now short mullet hair.. Because nobody else has to have feelings about my tattoos and hair. They just have opinions, and predjudice… which I guess is worse. I have a habit of guessing people are going to disregard or prejudge me before I have a chance to have a personality because of it. And so far I dont think Im wrong. I want to believe my husband, mom and sister who are very supportive, but the reality of how the public reacts to me seems to be undeniably surprized and uncomfortable. I think I will take some time to try and recapture the passion I was feeling when I made my mistakes and try to write down how I felt and try to connect more meaning to both the hair and the tattoo, so that I can make a conversation starter out of it.A way to let others and myself get to know me and understand…. WHAT NOT TO DO!! Ha Ha Im kidding.. understand what its like to be in my shoes, or even better, try to present it from an artists point of view. …Buuuuttt I hate tattoos, even before I got the first of my three tattoos, so I dont know why I do the things that I do, but most of the time I feel like I got issues.. Peace, and love your tattoos with happiness..

      • Thanks so much for sharing, Mindy. Your experience illustrates just how difficult it can be to not let others’ opinions affect us. The fact is that they can and they do affect us, and accepting that is important, but so is moving on from that acceptance and not focusing on it. It almost seems like others’ feelings (or your perception of their feelings/judgments/opinions) have eclipsed yours about your own tattoo, although I acknowledge that you say you want your bare skin back every time you see the tattoo.

        I too shaved my head 12 years ago and still have it shaved today… I love it! People, of course, judge me for it (I get everything from “Oh I’m sorry you have cancer”–which I don’t– to “You must be a lesbian”), but I love my hair and my tattoos and it’s a choice every day to live your best life and do you. I always feel like when I reach the end of my life, I will 100% regret every second I spent caring about what others thought or letting their perceptions hold me back from doing what I truly want in life. And so here I am!

        Thanks again for your comment and I wish you peace and happiness as well!

        • Thanks for your article! I got a beautiful black and grey rose in my shoulder two weeks ago. I absolutely loved it. But I’ve been really stressed recently which tipped over into anxiety directed towards my tattoo. Argh. I really hope this passes soon. But it really helped reading ur article and comments and knowing I’m not alone in this.

          • Thank you for your comment, Margret! You are definitely not alone. I hope your anxiety passes and you begin to feel some peace about your new tattoo! P.S I also have a few black and grey roses in my tattoos 🙂

  • I recently got a tattoo which has no meaning just to impress someone I love and just after getting it he ended things between us now I hate my tattoo and my entire body and all I think of is I need to get it removed as soon as possible sometimes I feel like cutting it off I have dark skin therefore I don’t know if laser won’t make it worse but it has to go because am really depressed about it and I can’t keep on leaving like this

    • Oh no, I’m so sorry Mumu! That sounds terrible. You are allowed to feel however you feel about your tattoo. I know it feels awful right now; all you can do is accept that you feel this way about it. Is it small enough that you could get it covered up? Maybe you can start researching artists/designs you love and begin planning a coverup, that might help you feel a little less negatively about the piece (and your body) and start bringing some positivity into your life. You can make the tattoo about you, not him. I have my husband’s nickname and name on me and two other tattoos that relate to him–I’ve always heard this is a terrible idea in case we aren’t together one day, although I haven’t had to experience that yet. My sincerest sympathies to you in this difficult time of having a tattoo you hate and going through a breakup 🙁

  • Just had my fifth tattoo. The guy worked really hard on it but I’m just not sure about it. The drawing and stencil was amazing and in some angles I’m ok. I flit between liking and hating it.

  • I recently got two tattoos done, never had any, never really wanted one or imagining having one while I grew up. I tattooed my guitar on the inner side of my forearm on Saturday, and Planet Earth on my right arm on Sunday. Sunday evening was the worst, I was very depressed and I was almost crying when talking to my aunt on the phone. She is no tattoo fan, but she listened to me and then started making jokes and saying that everything is fine, that this doesn’t define a person. She actually added that it might also be a lesson for her, not to judge people by appearances.

    Then I understood that those tattoos are right where they should be, and that I’ve chosen to do them for a reason. That they have deep emotional meaning to me at this moment in my life, that after years I will look at them and realize how I developed on the way. I will never look at them as ‘not want them anymore’ but as ‘I can’t believe I did it, me tattoos? i was so foolish – or – I was so crazy – or – It was such a good decision, it made me see things differently’. But it will be fine, no matter how I will think. I love myself with imperfections and tattoos, and I will never judge others by appearances, neither be afraid to be judged. I’d say that overall they made me a better man, even though it hasn’t been a long while yet. That is my feeling.

    I would add that my tattoos are big and colorful, and may look childish to say at least. Also, I’m 30 and I have a regular office environment job. Think about this, if now you suddenly have to live alone on an island, would you care/be depressed about having tattoos? No you wouldn’t, you would have completely other things , serious things, to worry about. Because tattoos simply don’t matter, it’s simply not a big deal at all compared to other things. But you do care now, because of society’s perception projected on yourself. I am not talking about all the situations, I am just saying what I’ve been through. Once you manage to make peace with yourself, you will not care about your tattoos. Like I said in the beginning, they are there for a reason.

    I wrote this comment because I thought if it manages to slightly motivate a person that’s going through something similar, then it’s time well spent.

    I also wanted to say what the tattoos mean to me, but this is already super long. Love, peace and success I wish you! There’s plenty for everyone, and tattoos have nothing to do with it.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Vlad. You make a very valid point and your perspective on the matter is refreshing and could be a positive influence on many. I too feel that my tattoos are a part of me and that no matter what happens it doesn’t really matter 🙂 That being said, that doesn’t take away from those “in the moment” feelings that you, I, and others who are reading this and commenting have experienced about their new tattoos. Perhaps your words best reflect the place that some people will gradually come to about their new body art–one of acceptance and peace. Love, peace, and success to you as well!

    • Thank you for this! I just got my first tattoo (technically 2 as the quote covers both inner forearms.
      It’s what I wanted, the artist was great, all that jazz. But I keep feeling like it’s just too large and looks trashy and now I’ll never see the soft smooth skin on my inner arm again. I feel like my husband is just being nice when he tells me he likes it.
      I wanted it off a few hours I got it.
      Reading your comment makes me feel a little better. 🙂

  • Hi there,

    I’m reading you post with tears in my eyes
    I recently got a tattoo cover up just between my shoulder blades. The new tattoo is of a lotus flower and it covers an old aged tattoo that I had.
    The tattoo itself is pretty but I hate it, I hate it and everytime I think of it, I start having panic attacks and feel like something alien is on my back that I want to scratch off.
    It is bigger than my old tattoo and I got it only 2 days ago. I have already started looking at surgical procedures to remove it or how quickly I can get laser on the thing.
    I can’t understand why I’m reacting in such a way to this new tattoo, my husband is trying to calm me down and claims its prettier and more feminine than the old one and it’s not as big as it is in my head.
    I’m not coping very well at all with this new piece, im doing everything I can to hide it and even looked at my whole wardrobe as to which items of clothing I can still wear.
    I am not a depressive person but this really has me going in a downward spin and I can’t seem to stop the thoughts and feelings
    Any words of advice would be truly grateful.

    Many thanks

    • I replied to your comment with an email, Natalie!

    • Hi there! I know exactly how your feeling. I have been wanting a tattoo with half woman face and half lioness face. Very excited about it because it has meaning to me. When I got it done I looked in the mirror at the shop and my heart dropped and I wanted to cry! I told the artist right away I didn’t like it. The nose looked like a pig nose. It was all wrong. The artist agreed to fix it for me at no charge. He actually had a different artist fix it for me once it healed. This artist has done many cat tattoos so I was feeling confident and excited. While it was healing I was embarrassed to show it off so I wore long sleeves ALOT! Whenever I would look at I thought I was going to puke because of how upset I am about it. Anyways, saw the new artist and he made some changes to it, which I was happy when I left the shop but now after a week I’m back to feeling highly disappointed and nauseous about it on how I can make this look better and it’s on my inner forearm and it’s a big piece! I don’t even know what to do. Wish I could insert a pic so you can see.

  • This is my second comment on this. I got my most recent tattoo Nov. ’18, and I was in a major depressive state for over a month. It is the biggest tattoo I have and it freaked me out to say the least. I survived the winter because long sleeves allowed me to keep it covered, but I was dreading upcoming warmer weather.
    Now that warm weather is here and I have since come to terms with my tattoo. I picked it for a reason, I had wanted to do it for a long time, my 8 year old daughter had input (it’s a rose and her middle name is Rose), and I was so happy the day I did it. So why the occasional regret? I’m still not sure, and once in a while I still look and wish I hadn’t done it at all. But I did do it and I feel I need to love it and myself.
    It is different for everyone obviously and this thread had a big part in helping me through the acceptance process. Even if I feel unsure at times, I find it much easier to just throw on that sleeveless shirt and show it to the world.
    It will be ok, I know this now. To everyone that is in a similar boat, I hope you can feel the same way eventually. I hope you can learn to not let others bring you down or be too hard on yourself.
    For me, in the grand scheme of things, if my tattoos are my biggest regrets in life, then I think I’ve done ok overall.

    • Thanks for this update, Elise! I agree when you say we shouldn’t let others bring us down or be too hard on ourselves. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done! I’m so happy you’ve found some peace with your tattoo. I think as time goes on, you’ll come to love and accept it even more 🙂

  • Really could’ve used this article a few years ago when I was struggling with severe tattoo regret. I’m writing this in hopes of helping someone else in this situation. I did get laser removal and do not recommend it. Ended up with scarring, very limited fading, and it was torture every time I went for treatment -physically and emotionally. For my own mental health, I made the decision to have the original design reworked. The artist did an amazing job and turned something awful into something beautiful. Not all tattoo artists are created equal. Talented tattoo artists are capable of amazing things. Do your research and talk to them about what your expectations are. And make sure you find someone who has the same vision as you and find someone you are comfortable with. The artist who helped me was honest with me from the start and told me that my sad tattoo had the potential to become something beautiful with a few minor adjustments. And she was right. Living in the past and emotionally torturing yourself is unhealthy. I wish everyone in this situation peace and acceptance.

    • Thank you so much for sharing, Shanna! I too hope others will find something that resonates with them in your experience. I’m sorry for everything you went through, and am glad that you were able to end up with something that you feel good about. My best wishes to you!

  • I just got my first ever tattoo on the 5th. It does have symbolic meaning to me. Its a mountain range Ive spent alot of time on and did alot of work on. However its bigger then I expected, and is kind of in a place thats a little hard to hide (forearm)
    Its a good solid piece. A little more masculine which I am freaking out about but Im not sure if im happy with it yet. Im going in phases of “I love it, its me, it what I stand for” and “omg I will have to wear long sleeves at job interviews forever

    • I agree forearm is harder to hide! Your tattoo is super new, it’s certainly going to take some time. Hopefully the places where you work in the future won’t care so much about tattoos, it seems like more workplaces are becoming more accepting of them. Take some time to process your new piece!

  • I recently got a tattoo for the first time and at first I really liked it, but now I’m starting to have some regret. I know in the article it says regret is normal but I’m incredibly indecisive and a little OCD and feel like it might be actual regret. I like the design and had planned on getting it for a year, but then impulsively walked into a shop with a random artist and had them tattoo it on me.
    It’s only been a few days but the more I look at it the more I’m slightly disappointed. I had it drawn up very particularly but when the artist did it it ended up in kind of a different style (the exact style I was trying to avoid actually). I’m kind of upset because I don’t think there’s really any way to fix it and I don’t really know what to do about it.

    • Oh no, I’m so sorry Ericka! There’s always a way to fix it, even if you don’t feel that way right now. There are very talented tattoo artists who can take original tattoos and create something new that you’ll love. I can understand impulsively getting a piece after thinking about it for a year: having that “I’m finally going to do it!” attitude and then realizing you may have made a mistake. As you said, it’s only been a few days, so give yourself some time to figure out what you want to do. If you really want to change the piece make sure you do a lot of research when looking for an artist to fix it and ask questions, get consultations, etc. until you find one that you feel good about. Try not to be too hard on yourself in the meantime, everything will work out! Thanks for commenting!

  • I wish had found this last year ! I already had one small tattoo lower back so invisible unless on the beach! Following a traumatic incident I got a large tattoo on my upper back. I had instant tattoo regret which was overwhelming. I cried for weeks and couldn’t stop looking at it which in turn caused more pain! I felt it was too masculine, heavy black lines and worst of all placement too high to parts show under all clothing except a collar blouse . The part that’s shows looked like a crab claw when in fact it’s sun rays! 4 months later I went to a female tattoo artiste and she was able to feminize the tattoo. My family all agreed it looked really nice but it is not pretty as I had originally imagined and never can be !! One year later I have learned to accept my tattoo and even show it off locally which I never thought I would !! Some days I love it and have no regrets other days I still fret about the placement and the heavy line s… I thought about laser and redo but no guarantees so truly believe my original design which has symbolized the trauma I went through is the best. I hope this helps others going through this !

  • For me, my current “regret” (which I’m sure will pass) is placement. I love the piece, but the placement makes me look unbalanced. It is also by a different artist from my other visible tattoo, so they are in different styles…

  • Hi Jenn, thank you for sharing your story! Reading your article really hit home. I just recently got a big tattoo on my upper right leg exactly 4 weeks ago, and ever since then my emotions have been fluctuating like crazy. I’ve wanted tattoos for as long as I can remember, and I wanted this tattoo specifically for over a year – it is a black/white realistic sketch of the two national flowers of the countries I’m from put together. As meaningful as this tattoo is, I often go through feelings of sadness, regret and anxiety. I’m really shocked I feel this way as the tattoo is seriously beautiful, (of course there are minor things I would change/alter, but no tattoo is perfect). My family and boyfriend are in awe with it and are extremely supportive. They’re surprised at my reaction considering how beautiful it is, but they also understand why I feel the way that I do at the same time.

    I had two sessions for this tattoo – a total of 10 hours! After my first session when the outlines were done, I couldn’t get over how much I loved it. Then after my second session when all of the shading was completed, something changed in my mind. I went from loving it to having instant regret and thinking “what did I do to myself? I’m ruined!”. Because after the second session, the black ink was EXTREMELY dark, which was disheartening for me as I wanted it to be very lightly shaded. Thankfully, during the weeks in which it was healing the tattoo lightened up a lot more, just how I wanted it to look. I think that experience with my tattoo being finished messed with my mind, as it scared me that I didn’t like it straight away which made me intimidated by it.
    I think a lot of my anxiety has to do with the fact that this piece will forever be a part of me, and I can never take back what I’ve done. I can go back and forth all day thinking like this, and it literally makes me feel sick to the stomach. Of course I knew it was going to be permanent, but it’s like the reality of it hits hard once it’s really on you. I struggle to see such a big change on me, I sometimes feel as though I should’ve just left my skin how it was. Some days I adore it, and other days I wish I could just scrape it off and get rid of my anxiety altogether. But I don’t think I actually want my tattoo to be gone, I just want the feelings/worries that have come with it to disappear.
    Even when I’m stressed about other things, my mind tends to focus on my tattoo making me anxious all over again instead of facing what I’m truly stressed about, and I’ve been stuck in this ongoing loop that drives me crazy! It doesn’t help that I am someone who suffers from anxiety regularly.

    Reading this article has been a relief, as I don’t feel so lonely for having these thoughts and feelings.
    I genuinely hope everyone in the comments who feel similarly comes to peace with their tattoos, as I know this is not a nice situation to go through. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Lexi. Four weeks is not a long time! Your tattoo sounds really pretty, and it sounds like so much work went into it. It almost seems to me as though your mind–which you say is already prone to anxiety–is using your new tattoo as a scapegoat. You are absolutely not alone in having these thoughts and feelings! I totally get that having a “forever” piece can make you feel trapped and anxious. I put “forever” in quotations because remember that everything is temporary at the end. You won’t inhabit your body forever, and you won’t have these feelings forever, and so while you’re here in this form, all you can do is have patience with yourself and maybe one day you won’t feel this way about your tattoo. I hope the days where you adore it will take over the days where you feel like you want to get rid of it!

  • This article made me feel a bit better. I just got a new tattoo today. I have had a couple so far and instantly loved them. They were with my mother’s blessing even though she hates the idea of me getting tattoos. Today I got the first one, without telling her. I am 22 years old and don’t need permission but I don’t want to see her hurt. My tattoo is huge compared to what I was thinking. And it’s not what I asked for. Still, I approved it because the artist thought it looked better. I can acknowledge that it’s a beautiful tattoo but I’m freaking out because I’m going to have it forever. What will my mother think? I know it’s stupid to say but I feel like she will never look at me the same if she finds out. I feel sick to my stomach. I hope I learn to love it more.

    • Thanks for sharing, Hope. It might be good to consider telling your mom about the tattoo before she just “finds out”. I would tell her how you feel about it too so that she knows you already feel self-conscious about it/have some negative feelings about it. I imagine expressing these feelings to her and telling her about the tattoo might help you find some more acceptance in your heart for this new piece. Our feelings are never stupid, I can understand that you feel this way, and know that you won’t feel like this forever. My best wishes to you!

  • Thanking everyone for their comments on here. I got my first tattoo yesterday and I’m over 50. I loved the design, it’s an edgy abstract face by an artist that I chose for that reason and it’s on the front of my shoulder. I made the mistake of sending a photo to an acquaintance/kind of friend who also has ink saying “I know it’s not everyone’s cup of chai latte” but I think I was hoping for some positive feedback and reassurance that it looked good Instead she just said “don’t worry about the haters” and now I’m really questioning my choice of design. I am dreading the “I wish I hadn’t got it” stage!

  • literally thank u sm i was having a fr panic attack bc i woke up today and didnt like my tattoo anymore. this article calmed me down and im glad that this is a normal feeling that a lot of people get. <3333

  • Thank you so much for this article. I just got my first tattoo two days ago. It’s a soundwave of a song my dad wrote. He passed away a few years ago and I had the idea of me and my two brothers getting the same tattoo for a long time. Now that we finally did it, I’m having regrets and getting really anxious about it. The meaning of it to me is very powerful. I’m ashamed to admit I did not foresee I would care about how others will look at it or judge me for it (it’s a small soundwave on my left forearm); But right now I can’t shake the thought of me having to hide it at work forever or wearing short sleeves (which I love to do). On top of it my girlfriend told me first she loved it and that made me look really sexy, but we just hung up and she said “she’s still shocked about it” and that she’ll need to get used to it. I guess after all, I do care about other’s people’s thoughts and want to feel accepted. I know I shouldn’t care, but deep inside I do. I hope this feeling goes away soon. You article and everyone’s replies are very helpful.

    • Thanks for sharing, Sam! Please accept my sympathies for the loss of your father. Your tattoo sounds really cool, and what a privilege to be able to honor your dad in this way. As many of us know and have seen, people don’t always have welcome reactions to our tattoos. Hopefully your girlfriend will come around, and in the meantime, the best you can do is to respect her honesty, because I’m sure she’s still processing it too. Your own feelings about the tattoo are only ones that matter, even if it doesn’t feel like that right now. I think deep down a lot of us care a lot more than we’d admit about what other people think; you’re certainly not alone there! And I don’t imagine you will have to hide your tattoo, at least certainly not forever. Your tattoo is still super new. I hope that as time goes on, it’ll begin to feel more normal, more a part of you, and more of the beautiful tribute to your father that it is. My best wishes to you!

      • Hi Jenn,

        First let me thank you for taking the time to reply to all those comments! Getting reassured by someone you know hits different somehow.

        Anyway, I got my fist tattoo 2 years ago on my wrist. My mother has the same one and never did I regret that one. However, the 15th of Dec I got a small (1,5 cm) lightning bolt on my outer wrist. It stands for Harry Potter which I adore. Thought it over for a year, had to change the location of placement quickly though due to the artist advising against inking my inner finger because it wears down more easily there. I think that is one of the reasons why I have trouble accepting the tattoo.

        I have generalized anxiety so I struggle with overthinking as it is. The first 2 days I loved it but then later that week I had a few panic attacks. Regretted the location, the actual shape, size (even though it is so small), and what people may think of me and my HP tattoo. I sometimes think of getting it removed and the next moment I sort of like it. I now try to see the tattoo also as a (pardon my French) f*ck you towards anxiety and that it can also be a reminder that I can be stronger than it.

        I hope I can love my tattoo in time. Looking forward hearing from you 🙂

        • Thanks for sharing, Chelsea! First, your little tattoo sounds very cool and adorable, although I know you don’t need my validation about it 🙂 Second, kudos to your artist for advising you against your original placement idea. The inner part of the fingers does wear away pretty quickly and you would have likely had to get the tattoo touched up a lot to maintain it over the years.

          Speaking as someone who has also changed placement last minute based on an artist’s suggestion, I know it can feel weird to initially try and accept your new placement after thinking about it so diligently for over a year as you’ve said and being so sure about it.

          I can certainly understand the feelings you have about it now despite its size. Your tattoo is small enough that you could easily cover it up in the future if you wanted, or even get it removed. But I think you’ll feel differently about it as time goes on, and I feel like the feelings you’re having about it now are part of the acceptance process. And I love your attitude of having it be an “f-you” towards your anxiety 🙂 And you are absolutely stronger than it.

          I hope this helps. My best wishes to you, and many blessings for your continued growth in the new year!

  • I have had my tattoo for two and 1/2 years now. Some days I love it, some days I hate it. and wonder why the hell I did that to myself. (I am very bad with commitment I’m the last person that should have gotten a tattoo probably. I blame my being a Sagittarius…) Either way I have gotten it in my head once again that I made a mistake. I am trying to remember why I got it in the the first place and to love it again. I’m glad to hear other people are in the journey as well.

  • I am currently in the bargaining phase, where I wish I could have done something differently. I wanted a tattoo on my glute, but didn’t really focus on the placement because I was shy bearing my rear-end to the artist. It is now a low, low back tattoo and I wish I could have said something. I am thinking it was meant to be here for some reason I can’t understand, but thank you for this article.

    • Hi April, try not to beat yourself up, it can be so hard to speak up and say what we really want! I like your thinking that it was meant to be there for a reason. Maybe the reason will reveal itself in time–I wish you peace and happiness about your tattoo!

  • Hi, I got a cover up tattoo on my inner forearm and the new design is technically much better and very pretty but I’m struggling with the fact that it is now a bigger and darker tattoo than the one I had before. I’m also an actor so I’m worried that the placement of the tattoo could affect my opportunities, especially now it is larger and darker. Very mixed emotions! I’m also only 20 so I feel embarrassed at the idea of removing it because I live with my parents and know they wouldn’t approve.

    • Hi Kirsty, yes, coverups do tend to be darker and larger! I’m glad that you say that new design is much better–in time, I hope it’ll look a little less dark and large and start looking like the beautiful piece that I’m sure it is 🙂 Thank you so much for your comment and I wish you nothing but the best!

    • I also walked down this road a couple years ago and can relate to what you’re going through. I hated my inner forearm tattoo and had it lasered in an attempt to either remove it or cover it. It was an expensive and extremely painful process both emotionally and physically (swelling, blisters, pain etc). Unfortunately, mine did not lighten enough to cover, actually had very limited results for what I went through. But, after two years of extreme depression and putting myself through the pain, I came to terms with my tattoo and accepted that it’s there for life. I found an artist who listened to me and reworked the original design so that it looks a lot better. I still wish it had never happened, but life is to short to stay in that place. I wish you peace and all the best on this journey.

  • Madison Ouellette

    Hey! I am so happy to read your article it made me feel so much better about how I feel right ow. Up until yesterday I have only had small dainty tattoos and then I decided to get a big lily stem on my left thigh, I had INSTANT regret. “It’s too dark” “its so big” “Why would I ever get this,” ext. It super sore and any clothing makes it feel worse. But I knew I wanted this flower and this tattoo, I okayed everything but why do I hate it after I got it for real? I hope I’ll learn to love it. Any advice?

    • Hi Madison! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It sounds very similar to mine! I can’t explain why, even after thinking about the tattoo, wanting it, and okaying the design, that we suddenly develop negative feelings around it. I think getting a tattoo is a very unique experience and it’s an adjustment (to put it lightly) to see something on your skin every day when it wasn’t there before. My advice is to care for your tattoo just as you would if you loved it with all your heart. Let it know it’s still adjusting to you and you’re still adjusting to it but you’ll take care of it until you two can get to know each other better. Sounds crazy but I have a feeling you’ll begin to love it–for real–in time. My best wishes to you!

  • I got my biggest tattoo- an entire half sleeve on my forearm. I planned this for a while- it’s sentimental (flowers from family member’s birth months) and I woke up today in an absolute panic of regret. I’ve been crying all day and wishing I could take back my decision. Reading this gave me some faith that things will change- I’m just terrified if they won’t because I won’t ever be able to afford removal and a coverup isn’t possible for something this big. Everyone is telling me it’s beautiful, all I’m noticing is how sick to my stomach I am over this whole thing. I hope I’ll learn to love my new look

    • Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear about your reaction to your new art, Kacie. The tattoo sounds beautiful but I know that doesn’t change how you feel now. Try not to focus on thinking about removal or coverup options as you are at the beginning of your journey with this tattoo (although I know it doesn’t feel like it after planning it for a while). This is a brand new, huge piece of work on your body and it’s ok to feel panic and regret about something so new and different! I do have faith that things will change for you. Allow yourself time with these feelings and don’t ignore them. Let yourself process the piece, even if the feelings that present themselves are ugly. I hope that with each day that goes by you begin to see all the hard work and beauty and imperfections that make your piece as unique and beautiful as you are. Hang in there!

      • Jenn,

        I just wanted to say thank you so much for your time, empathy, and this blog post!! So many of us throughout the years have found comfort in your words and wisdom. Thank you so much !

        • Oh my gosh you are so welcome! I am so surprised at the response to this article (having felt like I was the only one with these feelings!). It’s amazing for not just me but for everyone to know that they are not alone through this tattoo grief and acceptance process! Thank you for being a part of it!

  • I had an extension to an inner forearm tattoo (a pine tree with water colour background). by wrapping more watercolour and a blue jay around the front of my forearm on the 12th Sept so now have a half sleeve. I’m having a hard time adjusting to its presence, despite fully wanting to go for that ‘obviously got a tattoo’ look; I now wonder what I did it for, as I was quite happy with how it looked before. Tattoo addiction. But I keep waking up in the night questioning what I did, checking it to see if I like it, trying different clothes on to see how it looks. In a promising way, I do actually like the look of it with certain clothes and feel confident enough, when its healed properly, to try and get out there an get it on display. I am worried about how people will judge me, will other parents at the school gate stare? My daughter loves the tattoo but will she love it forever? I like the colours but how will I feel in years to come? I am encouraged by this space and am aiming for acceptance and moving away from any thoughts of a cover up which just isn’t possible. I do worry that it looks massive on me, I’m only very small, but I guess it’s all in proportion. I keep telling myself its cool, even if I don’t think I’m particularly cool. I keep telling myself I can rock this, I can pull this off, it will settle. I do feel sick with shock, how could I be so sure I wanted something and now feel so weird about it?

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Sarah. Your questions about your new tattoo sum up what so many of us think after getting a new piece, especially a larger or more dramatic one. The truth is that people judge us whether or not we have tattoos, so we might as well do what we want! Your tattoo does sound very cool and I’m imagining that it’ll settle in beautifully and you will come to love it just as you did when it was just your pine tree. I have hope for you that this questioning phase will pass. In the meantime, allow yourself to process the shock and the doubt and the questions. I hope you come out on the other side feeling confident and awesome about your new tattoo!

      • Hi Jenn – I just wanted to reach out to you nearly 2 months later after getting my tattoo and being in a state of shock. I sought medical help to deal with anxiety, took some time off work and started to try small things to love myself over the last 8 weeks. I explored removal, very seriously, made an appointment and then decided to give myself TIME to live. I’m happy to say that I feel SO much better now; whilst I’m not in love with my tattoo, I no longer hate it, nor feel any sort of shame or anger at myself. I will not be removing it. I have accepted the decision I made which felt right at the time, and stopped beating myself up. The tattoo itself doesn’t look shiny and bold to my eye any more. I wanted to say this to offer hope to others and that whatever your choice, removal/cover up/attempt to accept; you are not alone and there’s is no shame in how you feel. Whatever the outcome, this time will pass. Thank you for providing the space that kick started my journey. Love Sarah x

        • LOVE this! Thanks for the encouraging words!!

        • Hi Sarah, thanks so much for this update! You are certainly not the only person I’ve spoken to via this article that has sought help for their tattoo grief/anxiety. I’m so happy to hear that you feel so much better. I have tattoos I’m not in love with/don’t care for either, but they are part of me and I’m ok to live with them. Your story is proof that we are not alone and that our feelings are not shameful, no matter how awful they feel at the time. I’ve found that even with the most unbearable situations in life, the way you feel changes day by day. It’s hard to accept but it’s true. I hope others find comfort in your journey. Much love!!!

  • Thank you for posting this! It is the first thing I’ve found that put my feelings into words I think…

    I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but I just got my most visible tattoo yet, basically a half sleeve on my forearm. It is beautiful and bright and I love the design. It is very “me.” It started as a way to cover some scars I gave myself in a dark period and to stop me from resorting to self-harm again (I won’t want to cut and ruin something this beautiful and expensive). But it is WAY bigger and costed WAY more than I had planned for. And because it is so “me,” it feels extremely personal to show it off, which is not good because it is so visible. I like that you broke this down into stages of grief. It is so accurate, even though this is the first tattoo I have experienced it with (because of price and visibility I’m sure). The day of the tattoo, I was blown away by how awesome it was and glad to have the scars covered, although I was extremely upset by the price. The next day, all I could think about was the cost. And now (a few days later) I keep catching myself searching for tattoo removal pricing (buyer’s remorse maybe??). It’s not that I want it removed, but it’s that I want to know that I have that option if I really need it. But holy hell is it expensive! I also am from a very traditional, conservative background so most of my family, friends, and town looked down on people with tattoos. My parents are being remarkably supportive though because Ive managed to slowly chip away and broaden their perspectives over the years. My dad even said, “its your body, you do what you want with it. I wouldnt do it myself, but if everyone made the same choices, then life would be boring.” When I lived in Utah, I was surrounded by like-minded people who would have celebrated this with me. But I’m in Illinois at the moment, which is very conservative (especially where I work). When a more open-minded coworker or friend admires it, I immediately feel better. When I show it to someone who I know is more conservative/traditional, I almost immediately feel ashamed. The issue is that I am surrounded by far more of the latter people than the former. I think I need to learn a serious lesson in giving myself worth rather than only valuing myself and my choices based on the opinions of others. Ive wanted tattoos since I was a kid, and now I’m a walking art piece. I should be happy, but at the moment I just am trying to fight off panic attacks about this thing that is now permanently attached to me, for all intents and purposes.

    • Kelci, thanks so much for your comment. I think what stuck out most to me about your experience is your acknowledging that you “need to learn a serious lesson in giving yourself worth rather than only valuing myself and my choices based on the opinions of others”. What amazing insight! It sounds like your piece is beautiful and so “you” as you put it. I love that it’s so personal and meaningful to you, yet I can completely understand that it’s not something you’d want to necessarily show to the world because of it. And being in a more conservative environment certainly can be challenging (I experience this all the time with my appearance). I think separating your own feelings about the tattoo from the feelings of others will be important in your acceptance process. It’s ok to feel panicky and doubtful about your piece as you adjust to it, but don’t let others make you feel ashamed for your choices. You are a badass work of art living your best life! My best wishes to you and your new tattoo 🙂

  • Hi!
    I got my first tattoo 8 months ago when I just turned 18 years old. It was my original design, which I had in mind for months.
    But the tattoo artist changed my design (he just looked at my drawing for a few seconds and proceeded to sketch it in his own style) and persuaded me to change the initial location of it. His project not only turned out to be different, but also bigger than I expected. I loved the idea behind the design (it means a lot), but other people tend to make jokes about it, what doesn’t help. I feel ugly with it on my body, so miserable. My family also was very angry because of my decision to get a tattoo. It’s so frustrating – I even get panic attacks, because I realize that this thing is going to stay on my body forever.
    I plan to make more tattoos, but this one is postponing my decisions. I feel really bad, even though this tattoo has a meaning. I just don’t like the size, the style (thick, black, when I wanted to be more subtle). It’s one of those days when I feel so bad that I even cannot describe the feeling properly. I just don’t know what to do…

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your experience, Nat! That stinks that the artist took your design and changed it, and now you have something that not only you’re not happy with, but your family and other people are making negative comments about. Not cool! You are definitely not alone in experiencing panic attacks and feeling awful because of your tattoo. I know how much it sucks. I feel like next time I might consider an artist that you can talk to beforehand and show them your design and they agree to do it just as you have drawn it; that might help you feel more confident getting more pieces. In the meantime you do have options for your current piece if you decide you just can’t get to a positive place about it. I don’t want you to feel like you are trapped forever with it–that can be the worst feeling! I’m not sure if a coverup is an option based on the size and darkness of your piece, but you can always consult other tattoo artists experienced in coverups. You say it has meaning and love the idea behind it, so I hope one day you feel some peace about it, whatever you choose to do. My sincerest wishes of hope and healing to you!

      • Thank you so much for responding! <3 It means a lot to me. I will try my hardest to accept the outlook of the tattoo. Even if I won't manage then I will try to add something to it, so it won't look so 'bold and thick' anymore. Again, thank you very much for responding! I guess I am not alone with these struggles…
        Wish you all the best 🙂

  • Thank you so much for everything you are doing to help everyone. You are amazing and so very helpful and inspiring. I am also very glad I came across this thread. It offers relief knowing that you are not alone. I got a small sweet tattoo years ago for my kids that I loved immediately and never regretted. I loved seeing it. I got another one just a couple of days ago and it is way way bigger than I thought it would be and not what I had asked for and thought it would look like and it will be exposed all summer long as it runs along my entire outer calf. I wished I hadn’t gotten it right when I left, and then I wished I had put it up on my thigh where it would have been way easier to hide and people wouldn’t see it. I have been freaking out. I feel so off compared to how I normally always feel. I kind of deferred some decisions I shouldn’t have to the artist, who has been tattooing for years, and feel now that I should have spoken up and said it was way too huge and not at all in line with the simple smaller type of tattoo I had thought it would be. I dont like to hurt other people’s feelings and didn’t want to second guess or insult the artist and figured she knew best. I really wish I hadn’t gotten it though. I won’t get it removed however and will have to learn to live with it but am very sad and upset and anxious that I have to take this approach to it. I feel like I’ve let myself down. I already know that my mom and sister are going to dislike it very much and be very judgemental. I also have some very conservative people in my life and I myself am usually very conservative about things. I hadn’t even wanted to tell anyone about it. A few of my friends say they really like it and are supportive and say it’s beautiful but I’m not there yet. My younger kids found out and saw it today and they don’t like it at all. They said it makes me look too different. I’m normally a very easy going and positive person all the time but this is bringing me down right now. I really hope I can come to terms and accept this sooner rather than later. I’ve never done anything before that I’ve ever regretted like this. I’m 41 and feel ridiculous about feeling like this and wish so badly I had spoken up. Only I know my comfort level and what I wanted and I should have said something. I just feel like this tattoo isn’t really in line with me, especially with how big and bold it is. It’s my own fault and I’m kicking myself now. And I’m trying to tell myself that this will pass hopefully, and my tattoos are no one else’s business and that I’ll get used to it but that works for a bit and then I completely panic about it again. I even woke up in the middle of the night and started panicking which is when I found your post which helped in the moment. I’ve been told it looks beautiful but not everyone will see it that way. I tried to picture what I would think if I saw it on someone else and I think I would think it’s pretty and big. I think a lot of people have really great tattoos and I wouldn’t judge anyone else with tattoos, but I’m judging myself pretty harshly. It’s a wolf and wolves are one of my dad’s favourite animals so I’m hoping that will also give me some small solace but I feel like I’m grasping. I really hope I don’t feel this way long term and learn to like it. It feels wrong to have to come to terms with something that you thought you wanted but wish you could go back and never get. I pray to God this feeling passes and quickly. I believe He has a plan when it comes to everything and He knew I’d be getting this tattoo but I need Him to help me with this heaviness I feel about it. Thank you again so much for your article and for helping so many of us.

    • Hi JCee! You are so welcome and I am glad that at least the article and all the comments have offered you some relief in knowing you are not alone! My heart goes out to you right now with dealing with your new tattoo. One thing I’d like to share is that while the tattoo may seem huge now, in my experience, it will not look so big with time. I know that may not offer you much comfort now. But your piece is still SO new and you are still grappling with your feelings that it’s huge and not exactly what you wanted. You’re right, it does feel wrong to have to come to terms with something you thought you wanted and now want to go back and change. It’s so hard to speak up and say what we want, especially with a professional! At the end only you know what’s right for you. I hear you when you say you feel like you’ve let yourself down and that it’s your fault. I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this. The only thing I can offer is to give it some time and let yourself grieve in this weird way that all of us here have grieved over our new tattoos. I hope you won’t always feel this way and find some peace about your wolf (it sounds like a very cool tattoo, I know that doesn’t change how you feel, though!). I wish you nothing but peace and happiness <3

  • I loved it. Thank you! My situation is that I recently got a tattoo done on September 16 . It just looks different to me. It looks like I have an A. It’s supposed to be an infinity sign with a butterfly together but to my eyes I see the letter A. I don’t like it because my ex name starts with an A and it doesn’t really look like what I thought . I was thinking of getting it covered with a butterfly . I got it on my rib and it’s a decent size . I’m sure if I get it covered it would look bigger but i think I’ll feel better about it

    • Hi Julie! Thanks for your comment. If I were you I’d give it a bit more time before considering a coverup, just because your piece is still new and you might not see the letter A with time. But if you decide a coverup is the best option for you, then go for it! You’re right that the coverup will be bigger (and probably darker to cover the original design). My advice would be to keep this in mind, and go with an artist experienced in coverups. My best wishes to you!

  • I just got a new tattoo last week and I’m struggling with it a lot. I previously only had one really small one and now I have a giant piece in a black tribal style covering my upper arm. I got the tattoo to cover some old self-harm scars which I hate and have been thinking about covering them for years but was more focused on that than the actual tattoo itself which the artist designed. The tattoo is well-done and a beautiful pattern but I hate it on myself and have been consumed with anxiety for 7 days. It’s way too big to remove. I feel so lost and disappointed in myself for making such an impulsive decision. I feel like I’ll never be attractive again.

    • Hi Sara. Thanks for sharing your experience! I actually really love tribal-style tattoos. I’m so sorry you’re feeling so much anxiety about your new piece, though. You say it was impulsive but you also said you were thinking about covering your scars for years. I can understand that you were more focused on that aspect of the piece than on the actual tattoo design, though. A large tattoo can be harder to adjust to, in my experience, so it’s completely valid that you’d be experiencing some negative emotions about it. You are still in the very early stages of your relationship with this piece. You won’t feel this way about it forever. I know it’s hard to see right now, but give yourself some time to adjust to it and to process all these feelings you’re having, and don’t be too hard on yourself. I wish nothing but the best for you!

  • i got my first stick and poke a week ago and have beeh hating it ever since. i have always wanted a handpoked tattoo since they are usually adorably imperfect, however my attempt turned out to be just horrible. i have been having anxiety attacks almost every day ever since (i am anxious person but this is probably the hardest time of my whole life) . i just keep blaming myself that i have not tied the needle to the right grip, that i have mot taken more time that i chose a wrong day and made my design too big that i have not thought of how to tell my parents. i wouldn’t care about their opinion, but i am so ashamed of myself and not confident at all. i just keep hoping it would peel off magically and designing cover up ideas for myself. i just want to stop being so hard on myself for this, but my ankle is ruined permanently and i hate my stupid ass . i absolutely love the design and placement of the tattoo , but it is SO BADLY DONE AAAAAH i just want to cut my leg off. sorry for long comment, i just needed to tell this someone

    • Hi Robin! I’m so sorry to hear your stick and poke piece went so terribly! I hear you when you say you are ashamed of yourself and not feeling confident. And I can totally get that you’re being hard on yourself. Just know that, as impossible as it may seem, you won’t feel this way forever. Try to be kind to yourself while your tattoo is healing. Even if it feels like a colossal mistake, you always have the chance to make it better. I hope your self-hatred lifts and you can start getting excited about some cover up ideas. Sending much love and healing vibes to you!

      • of course I will not feel like this forever and i am certainly getting a cover up piece. however I feel like i have messed with my general anxiety and I feel like i need to get professional help. however, is a 8cm regrettable tattoo a valid reason to bother people?

        • Yes, it is! Your feelings are completely valid. Since you’re experiencing such anxiety about it and it’s affecting your wellbeing, I would absolutely encourage you to seek help, especially since you say you feel like you need it!

  • Hi Jenn, I know this is an older article but I’m so happy I stumbled on it! It gives me so much to think about… I don’t have any tattoos yet but I have an appointment in 2 months with a fairly “famous” lettering tattooist to get my sister’s name tattooed (probably on my arm? At least that’s where I envision it.) She passed away about 4 years ago and I randomly woke up about 8 months ago wanting to get a tattoo in memory of her. I’m not sure why I suddenly felt compelled to do this since I’ve never wanted a tattoo before. (I’m 40) I can’t even get a haircut without walking out of the salon and hating it, every time. Just thinking about regretting a tribute to my sister gives me major panic feelings and I don’t trust myself to be cool about this after it all goes down. I want to do this FOR her, if that makes sense…but I also don’t want to create an existential crisis for myself. I know I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago, and 10 years from now I’m sure I’ll be someone different too.

    It helps so much to read everyone’s perspectives in the comments. I’ve read every single one as I continue to mull this over. The self-awareness in your article is super refreshing and makes me think about how complicated and multi-faceted and amazing the human experience really is. We’re all just trying to live authentically, by bringing beauty into the world and that’s really the only thing that matters. Thanks again <3

    • Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing, and glad you found the article! It sounds like you already have some awareness as to how you may react to this new piece, so I think that may be helpful to keep in mind when moving forward with your appointment (I’m also curious who the tattoo artist is if you feel comfortable sharing?). Two of my beloved bunnies passed away six months ago and I would love to get a lettering piece in their memory. Mostly I just miss hearing their names and feel like it would be comforting to have them on my body. You are right when you say that we are always changing, and always bringing beauty into the world, even here with each other sharing our experiences. I wish you the best of luck with your appointment and hope you love your new tattoo!

      • I’m so sorry about the loss of your bunnies. I completely understand how it would be comforting to have their names close to you. I saw a quote somewhere that went something to the effect of: “Everyone dies twice, the first is physical and the second is when a name is no longer spoken.” For this reason I think memorial tattoos are so beautiful.

        I’m coming to the realization that placement is my biggest issue so I’m focusing on that as I decide about my own memorial tattoo. I was initially thinking I’d put it on my arm but my anxiety is saying otherwise. Putting it on my back would symbolically make sense – plus, being able to easily cover it makes me feel more secure. Luckily I still have plenty of time to decide.

        My appointment is with (@bjbetts on Insta.) 🙂

        • Thank you so much, Sarah! That quote absolutely speaks to me. And I really love the artist’s work–thank you for sharing. He is only two hours from me so I’m excited to consider pursuing a lettering piece there! I hope your piece is everything you imagined and more–I’m sure it will be a beautiful tribute to your sister no matter where you place it <3

  • Elise Clevenger

    I’ve been reading new comments lately as they have been showing up in my emails. I’ve posted a couple times already about my tattoo journey and regrets, then my coming to terms with it.
    It’s been 2 years since I had what is still my 7th and largest tattoo, on my upper arm. I was beyond depressed after I got it. I searched removal, I cried, my appetite went to hell, I was a total mess. I was also surprised at myself because the 6 I got before it, I never reacted that way. It took about 6 months or so for me to accept it (it is a beautiful tattoo). Now that it’s been 2 years, I truly love my tattoo. I have no regrets, no shame, no embarrassment, just love. I am even planning on adding to it soon. I hope that others on this thread can get this point of feeling good about their tattoos as well; though I realize some situations are different and harder to overcome. I continue to read these and feel thankful to everyone that can voice their feelings and give support to one another.

    • i am so grateful for your article!! although have still not forgiven myself, it showed me that i am not alone in this and that my suffering will pass some day. i have asked a cool tattoo artist for cover up ideas, finally (!) got pretty decent amount of sleep and today i am contacting a psychologist . i am so proud of you!

  • update on my bad stick and poke that is still ruining my life. two weeks later, i am starting to forgive myself and to love my body again. i have found a clinic that might get it lasered off, but it will cost a lot. however, i want my skin back so bad, that I don’t really care anymore. I might get a part time job and use my current savings. i have also decided that i should tell my parents, but I don’t know how yet. they have always been against tattos and i have never really listened to them. however if i apologize sincerely and explain that i am getting it removed with my own money, maybe, just maybe they will forgive me. i know that our relationship might never be the same, but keeping this secret is killing me, so I probably deserve the most cruel punishment they can think of. have you got any tips on how to apologize and convince them not to get kicked out of the house?

    • Thanks for this update, Robin! Secrets can feel like they are eating you from the inside out, I know. You don’t deserve any type of punishment, although I know that’s how you feel right now. I would come clean to your parents and start out by saying that you aren’t proud of yourself and ask them to please keep in mind how badly you feel before telling them about your tattoo. I would explain to them how you feel and say that you are pursuing removal options when your own money. I really hope they don’t make you feel worse than you already do, because you really don’t deserve that. You deserve compassion and understanding for what you’ve been through, even if you feel like you made a mistake with this tattoo. I don’t feel like you need to apologize to them, but that’s just me and I don’t know your parents. I hope they can see how much you’re suffering with this and how badly you need their support right now and not their criticism!

  • A big, sincere thank you to everyone who has shared their stories on here. Reading these comments has been so comforting for me.
    It’s the hardest thing in the world to admit you’re feelings, even more so when it’s over a choice you’ve made for yourself.

    I am also in the same boat as many of you.
    Just had my eighth tattoo done two days ago. And, I’m not loving it (I don’t necessarily hate it but I just really confronted by it. It’s on the front of my thigh so it’s very obvious to me and it’s darker/moodier than my others and a bit masculine for me. I’m picking it apart and noticing all the things I don’t like about it)
    All my tattoos are big and coloured and I’ve never felt like this previously.
    I have already researched laser removal and have even messaged the tattooist letting him know that it feels a little dark/harsh and whether he thinks adding some flowers or something might soften it- yet to hear back.
    I even told my husband I didn’t like it, which was sooo hard because I’d just “wasted” time and money on this thing (which when you have a young family can feel selfish).

    I don’t know how I feel today, I know this regret is impacting my appetite and headspace. I haven’t eaten properly since I got it and I’m very withdrawn; circulating these negative thoughts around and around, day and night and obsessing over it, looking at the tattoo all the time and kickstarting the negative thought process again.
    I agree with some of the others who commented saying they wake at night to check whether it’s still there and whether they like it yet.
    Such a toxic feeling and just wish I didn’t feel like this. I definitely feel disappointed in myself.
    Thanks again for everyone’s words of wisdom. Especially those who have taken the time to come back and update their progress. Sharing hope that this feeling isn’t as permanent as this tattoo.

  • Oh my goodness! Jenn, I hope you know how much healing, like real psychological healing you have aided by writing this article! Your words were like healing salve on my literal open wounds! Lol I know I am going to be reading this article and all the beautiful comments on the regular..as I work through my own tattoo grief stages. So my story..I lost my 22 year old son 1 year ago yesterday. This year has broken me in ways I thought couldnt be repaired..and in many ways wont ever be. Depression and anxiety are my closest companions much of the time. However, through much pain, suffering, therapy, support and study I am on a daily journey of acceptance, believing that ALL things happen for a reason..even the horribly painful things. I may never know the reason..but it is not my job to know.. my job is what to do with the time I’ve been given. I find comfort in the Rumi quote that says it is” through the broken places that the light shines through” This is a process that I imagine I will be on until I shed this skin and join him in the next dimension. He was a wise, profound and spiritual kid..and I know he wants me to live out my healing in an epic way. Hence my tattoo..first one ever..I’m 50 years old and never really had the desire to have one. But once he past, i KNEW i had to do it. I found some of his high school artwork after he past..one being a kind of self portrait of his eye..done in pastels. It truly captures him in person and in essence. I have it hanging in my hallway and it is the first thing I see walking downstairs everyday. So this past year as I’m trying to decide what tattoo to get, even having some artwork drawn up by our close friend/ tattoo artist..I was having a very hard time deciding… I would pick something dainty and pretty that I loved..but it just didnt REALLY represent my son in a concise way..so when I thought of my sons own artwork..of himself..what could be better?! And I might add it is really awesome! 🙂 Well, since not having any experience with tattoos I feel I didnt really analyze exactly how I wanted it..the size, position and I kind of just trusted the artist(who is very good) but of course after it was finished..even though it looked very close to my sons artwork..( I can find minor discrepancies that I wish I could change now)… but it’s more like I didnt realize how it was going to look on my arm…and it dawned on me that I like it better in pastels in the frame on my wall than with ink on my arm..permanently! Lol also I am a perfectionist to a fault..my self talk can be rather abusive and even torturous to my own mind at times..it is a dangerous place to be. But in light of all the real trauma I had lived through this year..I didnt not expect to be brought to such a devastating place of insecurity and vulnerability..especially
    when I think about it.. it is as close to what I asked for as possible…but still I was a mess all last night and today! ..crying, had to take a xanax just to fall asleep..calling my sister..suuuper sensitive and distracted with my husband all day..I felt completely un done by this…I felt like it made my job feel more stressful and returning to work even more anxiety ridden than it already is! I felt less attractive, it made me feel masculine, It even felt like it changed who I was somehow?!Like someone said earlier..definitely scapegoating my feelings onto all these other areas of my life..I feared people showing their dislike for it, which now, is not just not liking my tattoo, but not liking my deaseased sons artwork! And on top of all that, I have guilt for not liking it myself!?!?! Wtf?! Like I’m a bad mom for disrespecting my son, the exact person I’m trying to honor!! Talk about a royal mind f**k!! ..and then just came the tears of missing my son!!! Ahhhh! So yeah..its been alot. That was when i started the frantic google searches “what to do when you dont like your tattoo”…lol and found your article! Whew! Breath of fresh air! I am still not ok with my tattoo..its day 2..(and it literally is a oozing wound still) but after reading your article and re reading it many times I’m sure..it will be ok..hopefully I will learn to love it not just for what it represents..but how it actually looks on my arm…and maybe I can add some feminine whirls around it or decorative frame..to make it feel more appealing than a rectangular block on my wrist..with waay too much orange than I’m used to..lol And I just want to say as a side note..any of us who are dealing with severe depression over this..please try with me to be more self compassionate..and remind ourselves that our lives are more than this skin we walk around in for 70-80 years if were lucky. Its what’s on the inside that really matters..I believe our soul never dies. And one last thing, I read a post from someone who likened his loss of loved ones as creating “scars’ on his life, and the deeper the love, the deeper the scar..and that he should consider himself lucky to have many loves and many scars in his lifetime..because it was proof of the love he had shared…and maybe we can look at our “unhappy” tattoos kinda like that? Kind of like an appreciation for where we’ve been, who we’ve loved..proof that we’ve been actively living and learning and lovin..the good , the bad and the ugly! Dont lose heart you artistic, expressive souls! Your pain and suffering is real…embrace it..and keep learning and livin..there is so much to life, we dont wanna waste it in self doubt, perfectionism or people pleasing. I wish you and myself all the self love possible!…soo much that we could have a permanent ugly clown face tattooed on our face and yet we would still feel as beautiful and as authentic as we ever have been!!Hahaha! Ps..feel free to email me back:)

    • Stacie Jean, thank you so much for your comment. I feel like it will help all the people who have read and commented on this article. As I was reading about your journey I had tears in my eyes because I too have experienced profound loss in my life, and I feel like anyone who has experienced something as immensely painful and traumatic as the death of a beloved can relate to (I use the word death lightly here, as I too believe our soul never dies).

      I want to say too that I am so, so sorry for the loss of your son. I lost my two beautiful bunnies earlier this year, and while I’m not comparing my loss to yours (I know many people say it’s just an animal or just a rabbit), but one of them I considered to be my soulmate and my son and their loss impacted me in ways I wasn’t prepared for and am still grappling with. I can only imagine what you have been going through and are still going through with the passing of your son, who sounds like an incredible person and artist. I am truly sorry for your loss and your suffering.

      I also want to say that while I was reading your piece I had the feeling (I’m a little clairvoyant and an empath) that you will accept and love this piece and come to realize that while it may not look exactly like your son’s artwork, it is a representation of your son’s artwork and its home on your body is a way of giving new life to your son’s legacy.

      You are also still so new on this tattoo journey and while I can certainly understand wanting to add or change the piece now, do give it time to let it settle in and to allow yourself to process these difficult feelings about it. It sounds like you are on the right path even though things feel awful right now!

      Everything you said makes so much sense to me… you are right, a royal mind F**k! Your feelings are completely normal. You are not a bad mom. Quite the opposite, I feel like your son would think you were a complete badass and an amazing person for getting this piece to honor him. You are awesome. You will get through this.

      I can’t say thank you enough for reaching out and sharing your experience, I know in my heart and soul it will resonate with so many people just as it has with me and it will help so many. I too believe all things happen for a reason and love this quote from Eckhart Tolle: “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.”

      Sending so much love and light to you Stacie Jean!

  • Hi Jenn!

    It was like a wake up call when I found your article, in tears, in the middle of the night just few hours after getting my first tattoo. Its really refreshing to not hear stuff like “you shouldve said this and that to the artist if you didnt like the size”, “you chose the tattoo” and so on. And its hard to explain to people around you and honestly, its really tiring to hide it just to not be judged and labeled as crazy – “you wanted the tattoo and the design so whats the problem?”. I was feeling a lot better after reading your article and all the comments, there were not tears of regret anymore. The tattoo is on my bicep from the back side, a lovely mountain range with flowers and night sky, but I find it a little big on my tiny skinny arms. I agreed with the stencil, as the artist told me the smallest stencil I chose would be way too hard with the details, the slightly bigger one looked just fine, but I didnt have an idea how BIG the actual tattoo will look like. I am still processing it and I hope it will turn out good in the end (8 years ago I had a septum piercing done and the piercer botched it and the hole is uneven and waaay too low, so instead of feeling badass and confident, it made me hide my piercing in my nose and feeling even more insecure – so the tattoo being permanent makes even more pressure on my mental health). I try to think positive and the tattoo placement kind of helps me (as I cant see it when I look in the mirror), but now the regret transformed into the fear that something may go wrong (blow out, that I didnt follow the proper instructions on how to treat the tattoo, if its gonna look good once its fully healed, and so on). I hope you and your tattoo is doing fine. Also, you have such a lovely bunny! I used to have a holland lop bun, so I enjoyed your blog even more! 🙂

    • Hi Barbie, thanks for your comment! Your tattoo sounds beautiful. It sounds like the artist suggested what they thought would be the best size based on the design. I hope that as your tattoo heals and settles in on your body that it’ll feel like the perfect size. I know it feels really overwhelming and traumatic right now.

      I imagine the tattoo wouldn’t have looked as good if you went with the smaller size and the artist had trouble making all the details look right. There’s always a trade-off, it feels like! It’s been over two years since I’ve gotten my big thigh piece and honestly, it doesn’t look big at all to me now. I think with time you’ll be ok, but I know right now sucks. Trust your journey and acknowledge your feelings. You will get through this!

      Thank you, isn’t he a beautiful bunny? He transitioned into his spirit form earlier this year at the age of 12, but he was so special and important to me. I had a holland lop too, unfortunately, she passed away last year at a younger age after we found out she had cancer, poor thing. I am a huge animal person though and still have three bunnies that I adore!

  • Hello Jenn,

    How soothing it is to read your post and everyone’s replies at 4am, questioning if i’ll ever appreciate the tattoo i just had done 2 days ago… It’s a full back, it took 6 hours tondo and it’s not finished yet so i’ll have to get on the table again in a month… Immediately after getting a small hidden one 25 years ago, I started fantasizing on getting my entire back done. The image changed a bit through the years, but when i finally made up my mind about going through with it and got closer to D day, i wasn’t so sure anymore… I am not usually one to hesitate so now that it is there, much darker and less delicate than i thought it would come out, i wonder if i shouldn’t have listened to those question marks more closely rather than attribute them to normal ambivalence towards any important life change. And as it is immense, there is no way i can even think of going through removal!! So I can’t sleep, and we all know how thinking can digress with insomnia, which in turn does not help my acceptance process. I keep telling myself i’ve never made a truly bad choice or had regrets, but there’s a first time for everything! I know intellectually that there is no point in regretting anything at all, but my sadness is undeniable, and i’m not sure about sharing my doubts with anyone but this lovely virtual community. So i appreciate you using the stages of grief to get through this adaptation., it speaks to me. I am trying all my might to stay positive, in hopes that your good words and everyone else’s do come true for me as well, for my tattoo and i to get acquainted and eventually become one.

    • Hi Mylene, thanks so much for your comment! Of course your sadness is undeniable, and it is a feeling that we can all sympathize with after getting a tattoo. Staying positive is important but so is allowing yourself the space to process these feelings, as strange and terrible as they may be. Our tattoos so rarely turn out *exactly* as we imagined. Be positive but also mourn your new tattoo as you need to, as strange as that may sound. I hope that you will come to a place of peace about your new tattoo before your next appointment, and if not, if you might consider rescheduling until you’re in a better place. In the meantime, take care of your new piece and let yourself feel what you feel. As you’ve seen from this article and this comment thread, you are absolutely not alone in your feelings!

  • I just got a tattoo with my mom yesterday and the artist was very nice but not very comforting. She was an apprentice (although her work was extremely professional and that’s not the issue) and her mentor had to step in to put the stencil on my because I was shaking. It was a little off center but he didn’t think so and almost made me cry for wanting it to be perfectly centered. I was also shaking very much during the process. None of that messed up the look of the tattoo, but I now find myself wondering “what if I didn’t get it?” or “what if it was just a little smaller?” It’s a matching one with my mother who is my best friend so there’s a bit of guilt in regretting it because she loves hers but it’s so hard to come to terms with the fact that my skin will never be the same. It’s on my wrist and very visible. Please help.

    • Hi Elena! I’m so sorry about your experience getting your tattoo. It can be really hard when the artist really isn’t comforting or on the same page as us, even if their work is on point. I can also see how you feel some guilt because your mom loves her tattoo and here you are feeling these unprecedented feelings about it. The questions you’re asking yourself are totally normal but I know they’re hard to think right now, especially about something that’s “permanent” (I say “permanent” because in my opinion everything is temporary in the end). As hard as it is, try not to focus too much on your new tattoo. It’s there and you have all the time in the world to get acquainted with it, so let it heal and give yourself time to process how you feel about it without fixating on it. I think you’ll find that your feelings will change over time as you adjust to it, even though I know it doesn’t feel like that in this moment. You’re going to get through this and you’re going to be ok!

  • Hi! I’ve already typed this but I guess it didn’t go threw the fist time! I got a tattoo on Saturday so it’s fresh it’s a lion with blue eyes and it’s on my hand I’m very disappointed because I spent days researching and picking out the best lion head for my tattoo and I finally found one I loved it and I was so excited for my appointment I took it to my artist and he said okay I went for my appointment and he showed me a completely different stencil it wasn’t what I picked out but I liked it a lot so I told him okay and we started it was going well at first but when he started to shade it that’s when i started having my doubts to me the face is so off it has a Wierd facial expression and the one side of his head looks like it’s coming in farther then the other side which makes his head look shaped weird his nose and mouth are two different shapes it’s bothering me so much and since it’s on my hand I really wanted it to be perfect let’s just say this is not the tattoo I was expecting to get. when I show my family and friends and tell them about what I see they say they can’t see it and that it looks really good and that they love it I’m so confused I feel like I’m going crazy because no one can see what I’m seeing I’ve only had it for 3 days so it’s not even close to done healing yet but something about it bothers me the way it looks bothers me I’m HOPEING the reason it looks like that to me is because my hand is swollen I’ve been going threw this faze for the past 2-3 days where I hate it then love it then hate it and then love it again and I keep looking at it trying to pick out all its flaws one hour it looks fine to me and I’m happy with it but then the next hour I hate it and I’m so mad I got it I’m
    Praying to god that my feelings about this tattoo don’t stay the same because this tattoo and the meaning behind it is very special and important to me I’m so sad and depressed and it’s really taking a toll on me my anxiety is so high rn and I’m a emotional reck I don’t think I would consider getting it removed because I feel like it belongs there but at the same time I feel like the artist didn’t do what I wanted so now I have a tattoo on my HAND that I didn’t ask for. when I first got it I was disappointed because it wasn’t the lion I wanted but I was happy because I had it but now I’m questioning if I should have got it all together witch is really making me feel bad because it was a Christmas gift from my grandmother and it was $400 am I over thinking? I just wanna be happy with my tattoo 😭😭😭😭

    • Hi Rian, I’m so sorry about your experience with your tattoo so far! I’m imagining that the artist did a totally new stencil because if they had done the original design you showed them that would have been considered copying another artist’s design, which is considered taboo for some tattoo artists. I’m not doubting that the imperfections you’re seeing are real, yet at the same time, everyone has a different perspective so your family and friends probably really AREN’T seeing the same things you’re seeing!

      Your feelings about the tattoo won’t stay the same. As you’ve seen, they’re constantly changing. Which can be part of what makes adjusting to your tattoo so anxiety-inducing. We all overthink, especially about the art on our bodies! It’s going to be ok. Let yourself see the imperfections, let yourself experience the highs and lows of processing this new and very visible piece of art, take care of your tattoo, and try not to think about removal right now. I think you need some more time to process the new design that you didn’t originally plan on. It can be really hard to want and imagine something and then have the result turn out completely different. Don’t question if you should or shouldn’t have gotten it. You got it, and it’s done. The only way left to go is forward, and I’m confident that you’ll continue to move forward and eventually be happy with your tattoo!

  • Omg Thank you! today I’ve felt so much better about it! last night I actually cried about it (literally had a whole panic attack) lol but now ever since I woke up this morning I’m thinking it’s not that bad more then I’m thinking I’m gonna hate it. since it’s on my hand my artist said it’ll Fade easier then other tattoos and I’m already starting to see it fade a little bit so I’m hoping when I go back I can talk to my artist about fixing some things about it. When I look at it im not as upset as I was for the past couple of days but it’s still getting to me (to the point where I’m feeling sick) but I’ve only felt that anxiety twice today! When before I was feeling it a lot more . Thank you so much for your help I finally have a little bit of hope for my tattoo and your advice definitely made me feel a lot better! ❤️❤️

    • Oh and I also gave him a picture of a actual lion head not a picture of a tattoo so I was kinda disappointed when it didn’t look like the actual lion

      • Oh sorry I misunderstood you! That is even more disappointing then, I can only imagine how you must feel! Sometimes artists’ interpretations can look really different when we first see them and then later we realize it looks more like the actual picture/design than we imagined. I’m not sure if this will be true for you, but I know it’s been true for me with certain tattoos.

    • You’re very welcome and your feelings are totally normal. I know it probably doesn’t feel like that right now. And it’ll definitely fade faster! I got a hand tattoo last year and feel like it’s already fading some to be honest! I hope your anxiety keeps fading, I know it can feel so distressing and difficult in the moment. You will get through this! <3

      • This post and thread of comments have been so so comforting to read.
        I just got my 7th tattoo, but my most vibrant and visible (first color).
        I’ve never regretted a tattoo, and honestly was oblivious to this feeling as it’s not often talked about.
        The night after I received my last tattoo I woke up out of a dead sleep and become overcome with regret, guilt and fear. “What did I do!?” Kept playing through my head. I’ve been overcome with the strangest feelings around this tattoo. The artist depicted exactly what I had in my head, but on my skin it feels all wrong…even though it has so many different meanings to me. I went in wanting it on my upper arm under my other tattoo. My artist showed me the drawing and I LOVED it…then she tried it on my upper arm and she said it wouldn’t work.
        I think my feeling of regret is that I let her basically decide where it went versus sticking with what I wanted.
        I feel sick to my stomach at times over it and then 15 minutes later I love it.
        I believe this is happening to me for a reason and I’m trying to embrace this process. Embrace what I’m meant to learn from this new experience.
        I’m so so glad I’m not alone but I also feel horrible others go through this as well. This is tough

        • Hi Natasha! It is tough, and as you say, these feelings are really not talked about! Even if the tattoo artist depicts exactly what you want you can still experience these feelings of dread, panic, and regret. I’m imagining that your feelings are related to the few things you mentioned: the tattoo being more vibrant and visible than all your others, and also the last-minute change of placement. As strange as it sounds, I think what you’re experiencing right now is normal, and you are most definitely not alone. Be patient and kind to yourself, you’ll get through this!

          • Hi Jenn! Thank you so much again for this beautiful post and a space for people to reach out in a tough time. Having these hard and strange feelings around a tattoo can be isolating as it’s not something often talked about. There is also a certain amount of guilt to talk about it because this is something we CHOSE. We had intention, we paid money, we sat through the pain. That is where the stigma begins. Your willingness to share your story has opened up a hard conversation and given others a place to feel safe. Thank you!
            I’m happy to report that 4 months later I am in the best mental place in my life. Going through my “dark night of the soul” experience around this tattoo has made me dig deep into the very reasons I was feeling so many intense emotions around this tattoo. I learned so much of it was about my body image issues stemming from childhood abuse and lack of confidence in being my true self because of what others will think of me.

            I want to also mention that in researching even more about my tattoo I discovered that at the bottom of the actual statue (which is what my tattoo is of) there is a scripture that reads “we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. II Corinthians 5:8”
            Whether you believe in God or a certain faith this is a fabulous reminder. We only get THIS body for a short amount of time. Whether we chose to place something on our body or we suffered an injury to our body, or were born a certain way….we must remember it is just a body. This vessel holds your soul but it is NOT all that you are.
            Our body is not a representation of our higher self and our true being. We are more than our bodies!!!!

            Along with the body image journey I’ve been on since January I’ve also been on an intense spiritual healing journey. I’ve learned my time on earth is not for only thinking about myself. I’ve since also become a volunteer crisis counselor to help others through their “dark nights of the soul” moments.

            Hold tight my friends. Embrace this pain and confusion you are feeling around your tattoo. Lean into what you are meant to learn from this time.

            ❤️

          • Natasha, great to hear from you again, and THANK YOU so much for this comment and update. Your journey resonates so much with me, and I think it’s incredibly profound and beautiful that your negative feelings about your tattoo led you through this journey and to this positive point in your life. HOW INCREDIBLE!!!

            I myself have been on a recent journey tracing my body image issues back to childhood and emotional and physical abuse. This particular sentence you wrote: “I learned so much of it was about my body image issues stemming from childhood abuse and lack of confidence in being my true self because of what others will think of me.” Is exactly what I’ve been realizing about myself! And you are 100% right–our bodies are NOT all that we are even though we are tethered to them for our current existence.

            Some books I have read that I’ve found so helpful on my journey (in case others are interested!). I plan on writing a blog post about these books soon and will update this comment with a link to the article when it’s done! (UPDATE: Here’s the link!)

            1. The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting, by Alice Miller
            2. Feeding Your Demons, by Tsultrim Allione
            3. Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, by Lindsay C. Gibson
            4. Many Lives, Many Masters, by Brian L. Weiss

            When I started my journey, I thought the books about cruel parenting and emotional immaturity wouldn’t apply to me. I thought I had great parents who made me the person I am today. However, after reading these books, I came to realize the truth: it was my suffering as the result of my parents’ abuse and negative attitude about my body that made me the person I am today, and I am free to separate myself from them, stop putting them on a pedestal, and transcend my body image issues, my lack of confidence, and my childhood suffering at my own pace.

            Thank you again Natasha!!

  • Yes it’s definitely a hard thing to be going threw right now and especially the fact that I have to like it either way because I don’t have any other choice but to and I’m praying that I can keep thinking positive about it it’s definitely not what I envisioned going into the shop that day I’m hoping I’ll like it when it’s all healed and fixed thank you and you’ve definitely helped me! ❤️

  • So glad I’m not the only one feeling this way. I got my 3rd tattoo yesterday that I’ve been planning out for almost 2 years. The artist totally botched the colors and it looks nothing like the pictures I showed him, ugh. Thinking about it makes me feel sick. I showed my best friend and my sister last night and they both said “…..who tf did that, you need to go back and get that fixed.” Didn’t make me feel any better about the situation lol. All of the tattoo artists work online looked beautiful so I’m just shocked and upset that he could mess up on something that was honestly so simple compared to his other work. Going back in 2 weeks to get it touched up and hopefully fixed to the point where I like it but tbh I’m nervous to go back to the same artist. I wish I could ask for a different artist in the same shop but I know that’s disrespectful 🙁

    • Oh no, I’m so sorry about your tattoo Jesse! That sounds awful! I would be nervous too and might consider asking the artist what they plan on doing specifically to fix it. If you don’t feel good about it I honestly would consider going to a different artist. I know it would be considered disrespectful, and I do think you should give the artist a chance to fix their work, but go with your intuition on this one. It doesn’t hurt to wait too and see how you feel as time goes on in regards to what you want to do for touch-ups. Sending you healing vibes and hoping your next appointment is a more positive one!

  • I got a new tattoo 2 weeks ago. My grandfather had been in a nursing home during all of quarantine so I hadn’t seen him in nearly 8 months and in late October he passed away due to covid complications. Right away I felt like I wanted to get a tattoo to honor him. I have two other tattoos but they are pretty hidden and are over 14 years old so it has been awhile! My grandfather was the most amazing man and I’m just so torn up about his passing. I loved him more than anything in this world and so a tattoo seemed like something that could help heal my broken heart because I’d have a piece of him with me. I had went back and forth on ideas and one day it hit me. A red rose. My grandpa was in the Vietnam war and had tattoos up and down his arms, on his right arm 3 red roses. So one day I thought, I’ll get a red rose too! But the stem would be his handwriting! PERFECT! I wanted it on my wrist, a tiny tattoo. Everyone told me to think about it but I fell in love with the idea and went ahead and made the appointment. When I went to get the tattoo I told the guy what I wanted and he drew it up a red rose and the stem is my grandfathers handwriting, “I love you Tommy” which was a line from a letter he had written my grandmother. Tommy was his name so the artist added that in and I loved it. The stencil was beautiful but a lot bigger than I imagined and we decided to place it on my inner forearm. I went ahead with it without saying anything because I figured he had to make it bigger so the writing would fit. Fast forward until it was actually done and I had this sinking feeling in my stomach like omg what did I just do? I have 3 young daughters. Moms don’t have huge tattoos on their arms. Or atleast not moms like me! Then I realize the writing in the tattoo is upside down. Because the writing is the stem it looks fine from my point of view but when other people see it it will look backwards! I am completely mortified! I don’t know why I didn’t think about it more or voice any concerns and also just feel horrible that I could hate such a beautiful tattoo and it is also my beloved grandfathers handwriting so I feel like how could I even cover it up! Also my job closed due to covid in December and I found another quickly but now I have this huge tattoo and what will these people think of me? I have battled anxiety and ocd my whole life and every time I look at the tattoo I shake thinking how it’s backwards and I have to live with it forever. I don’t know what to do.

    • Hi Erica! Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandfather. I have to say your tattoo idea sounds so beautiful and so meaningful to honor the passing of your grandfather.

      Would you rather the writing look backward to other people or to you? It seems like you would want the writing to be legible to you because it’s your tattoo and you didn’t get it for anyone else to look at it, right? I can see how you’d feel mortified since you didn’t realize this before you got the tattoo though. The idea of the writing being a different way than you imagined might take some time to adjust to.

      It’s also always hard when you go in wanting a small tattoo and then end up getting something much better. You have a lot to process with this piece! I know it feels so overwhelming right now, and I’m so sorry. Especially when all your feelings are still so new with your grandfather’s passing. Remember that what other people think of you is none of your business, it’s how you think about yourself and see yourself that matters. And let me be the first to welcome you to the wide circle of moms that have huge tattoos on their arms!

      Take care of your tattoo and breathe. It’s there now, you can’t change that, and the only way to go is forward. I hope that with time, you’ll come to see your tattoo for what it is—a beautiful tribute to your amazing grandfather where YOU can see the words as they were meant to be seen from your point of view, because they are for you and no one else. I wish you so much healing during this challenging time!

  • What a great article and definitely something that NOBODY talks about! I’ve dreamt of getting a half sleeve/sleeve for such a long time; my husband bought me a gift certificate for Christmas and my tattoo appt was a week later. I loved the design, loved it after 2 sessions, but after the 3rd with color is when everything set in – the what-ifs. It’s a tattoo in honor of my beautiful grandma, an owl over mountains and cascading trees. “Why didn’t I do just black and grey?” “Why didn’t I make it more feminine?” What can I do to make it more feminine?”. – ugh. Like others, I go back and forth with thinking it’s amazing work to it’s just not exactly what I wanted. It’s almost healed now and I may talk to my artist about adding some feminine aspects so that maybe I love it more, but then will I just go through this again?

    So frustrating, but I pray that, like others in these comments, I will love it completely in time.

    Thanks so much for writing this and to all of the comments, they really all have helped, even if it’s just a little ♥️

    • Hi Tonya! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Your tattoo sounds beautiful and meaningful, but I know firsthand that that doesn’t stop the questions from taking over! I would definitely recommend giving it a bit more time before going back to the artist to add to your tattoo. Adding to it could be the right decision, but since your piece is still pretty new, I would let it settle for a while before making that decision to change it because you probably will go through the questioning phase again! It certainly is frustrating. I’m glad the article and comments were able to make you feel a little better 🙂

  • Hello. This article has made my anxiety go from a 10 to a 5. I’ve been thru the entire process to depression and just working myself back out. My regret isn’t the tattoo as it’s a beautiful mandala elephant on my inner bicep. The placement is ok too! It’s my work environment and feeling like I will be looked at as unprofessional. I have other tattoos and when there is a work event I finally showed them the reception was positive (except for that one person who said ‘I don’t like tattoos’) didn’t bother me and I felt accepted. Now I have this one which is more visual during normal work days all I have is that guy in my head and feeling judged. I bought a bunch of longer sleeved tops but we are in a tropical climate so there will be times it’s visual. My CEO noticed it the other day and didn’t say anything. (Sometimes that’s even worse!) I’m going thru the process of acceptance but it’s the other people’s responses that make me feel vibes of negativity towards me… any advice on how not to give a fuck? Thank you, so nice to have someone listen.

    • Hi Audrey! I’m so glad the article was able to help reduce your anxiety! Ugh, work environments… I hope one day as a society we can be more accepting of tattoos in the workplace and stop perceiving them as “unprofessional”. For someone like me who has social anxiety and past trauma regarding other people’s behavior toward me, I can have A LOT of anxiety about what people think/say about my tattoos, even though deep down, I don’t REALLY care… it’s more like I am afraid of what awkwardness it will create when and if they do communicate something negative (not always with words) and having to stand up for myself, something I am still learning how to do after 30 years.

      So in regards to advice for how to not give a fuck… this is the best I have for ya.

      Try to see yourself, for a moment, as someone else—someone you deeply care about. It could be a best friend, a family member, a child. Imagine them feeling what you’re feeling—the anxiety, the fear of being judged, the depression, etc. What would you say to them? How would you console them?

      An example of how this played out in my life: two years ago I got my right hand/arm tattooed and my grandmother was coming over. Even though I didn’t care what she thought about it, deep down I was scared about what she would say and how it would make me feel. My grandma is opinionated and often expresses her opinions in a disrespectful way, and has said negative things in the past about my tattoos.

      I had so much anxiety that I was having trouble thinking about anything else. That morning before she came over, I looked in the mirror and met my eyes. “You are a strong, smart, beautiful, badass, successful person,” I told myself. “You do not have to tolerate disrespect from anyone. You do not deserve to be spoken to rudely, or to be made to feel bad, especially in your own home. You are amazing and you got this.”

      That’s what I would have said to my best friend. My son. My mom. My husband. Anyone I cared about. Not giving a fuck doesn’t necessarily mean you no longer care. It means you acknowledge your feelings and decide what’s important, making you and your feelings the priority at that moment, and don’t give a fuck about the rest (here’s a YouTube video that kinda explains that concept!)

      When I look at my past self and some of the stuff she endured, I wish I could reach out and grab her by the shoulders and say, “YOU are the most awesome thing that ever walked the earth! NEVER let anyone make you feel otherwise!”

      When I see myself this way, I see my past, current, and future selves merge, and I become that person, and I live my truth.

      If YOU love your tattoo
      If YOU are happy with your body
      If YOU are proud of who you are

      Tell yourself that. Give yourself a pep talk in the mirror if you need to. ALWAYS look at yourself with compassion. And hold your head high and don’t give a fuck about what others think. Your opinion on this subject is literally the only one that matters.

      Others’ opinions affect us, of course. I’m not denying that. Unpacking that is important. This is your journey. Trust it!

      Oh, and by the way—my grandma never said anything about my tattoo that day 🙂 But if she did, I was ready. I’ve also found that playing out worst-case scenarios in my head helps my anxiety, because no matter what they say or how they react, it’s almost always never as bad as I imagine, and guess what? I always recover from it, even if it takes time.

      I hope this helps, and I wish you the best of luck, Audrey!

  • I wish I had had this article years ago! This 100% speaks to how I felt when I got my one and only tattoo about 15 years ago. I honestly have struggled to love it all these years. The reason I came across your article now was because I have actually begun the removal process and guess what? I’m grieving for it! I felt regret for 15 yrs and I finally made the choice to remove it but after the first session I fell into a horrible depression. I now have all new fears. I guess I had grown used to it though never loved it. What if it will only make it worse? What if now this is the wrong decsion? Anyway, in trying to see if people grieve during tattoo removal and how to deal with that, your article came up. Its very relatable and we’ll written and thank you for putting it out there

    • You’re welcome Sarah, and thanks for sharing your experience! I applaud you for making the choice to remove your tattoo even though you’re now going through a totally difference experience with questioning if it’s the right decision. But you said you never loved it, and I can only hope that through this you’ll be able to get something you really do love or feel some peace about not having your tattoo be as it was anymore. I’m sure there are so many people who grieve during tattoo removal, I’ve heard it’s a very grueling and emotional process. I wish you the best of luck on your removal journey. Change is scary, but I’ve found some amazing stuff usually results from it if we’re open to the transformation process and what life has to teach us.

  • Hi Jenn!
    I spent so much time finding a blog or a page where tattoo regret would be discussed.. and then I found your page. Wow, what a relief to know I am not alone in that situation. It is really hard to live with…

    I have 4 small tattoos that were done a long time ago. I love them all. Last summer, I got another small tattoo impulsively on my back arm. I did not like it after a few months and I wanted to do a cover-up. So I researched a cover-up artist and I found one that really matched my style. I had thought about having a floral half sleeve for a while, I find that very beautiful, but I never had the guts to do it. I decided that this opportunity was the time to do it! And that it would be to symbolise the end of my school. I decided to have it covered up with flowers on the back of my arm. So I went to the shop and I let the artist pretty much decide of the design. Her speciality was cover up tattoos and I liked her portfolio so I trusted her. We decided the placement and she showed me the outline of the tattoo but no details really. It didnt matter because I trusted her work…

    So the tattoo came out so much bigger than I expected. It spreads into my whole back arm (Big flowers). I like one of the flowers but I feel that the other ones… don’t feel right. I don’t know why. When I got back home … I panicked. What have I done ?? Why so big ??? I’ll never have my naked arm again? So much anxiety in the past weeks… I talked to my boyfriend about it and he told me to give myself some time to heal…Now it’s 3 months later and the feeling is less intense, but still there. I’m really struggling with accepting it since it’s so big. I reaserched laser tattoo removal many times. Honestly I would do it if it could give me my peace of mind back… I feel like I was doing fine before that but now all I feel is regret. I don’t know what to do. Is it normal to feel like that again after 3 months ? Anyways. Thank you very much for this page, it has helped me a lot… And thank you for all the people that shared their experience.

    • Hi Patricia, thank you so much for sharing your experience, and glad you found our community here. You’re certainly not alone in feeling anxiety over a tattoo, particularly one that turned out much bigger than you were initially imagining. I know it doesn’t feel like a short period of time, especially when you’re feeling so much anxiety, but three months is really not that long a time to have a tattoo. In my personal experience–not saying this will be your experience as well–my tattoos always seem smaller over time. I’ve gotten larger pieces (10-12 inches) that now seem small to me after a few years. My opinion is to give yourself more time. I know it feels difficult, and only YOU know how you feel and what’s right for you. For many who get tattoos and have anxiety, regret, and depression about them, it’s a whole process to come to a place of peace, and that journey just takes time. Maybe you will feel you want laser removal in the future, but for now, you’ve gone through a lot of transitions in a short period of time, with getting a new tattoo and then getting a cover-up a few months later. I would sit on this one and give it some more time. I hope this helps. Your tattoo sounds very beautiful, by the way, but I know this doesn’t change your feelings about it. If it doesn’t feel right to you, it doesn’t feel right. Just know that your feelings can change over time. I wish you all the best!!

  • HI Jenn! ‘m so thankful for these posts. There is such a need out there for sharing these feelings! So glad you all have the courage to talk about it!! I feel as though it is almost taboo to admit these feelings. It’s a huge decision to get something permanent done (cover ups and lasers aside, in the first instance it’s permanent) and then when the doubt and regret came I felt ashamed and embarassed to tell anyone the feelings I was having. I felt like a fool and am relieved to hear that I am not alone with my very unexpected reaction to something I was looking so forward to. After 4 weeks of my 20cm floral tatoo on my torso healing I managed to get used to the size and darkness and past the anxiety attacks. The regret had even subsided but there was a nagging need for some adjustments. I was holding onto the thought that this was not the final version. Two days ago I got my desired changes made with the same artist. And I am back to anxiety attacks and regret. The changes don’t look as I wanted. I didn’t think I would go through this again!! BUT!! I know I need to wait and let it heal and reassess in a few weeks. So I will hang on for a bit. And yes the way I feel changes one look to the next and it makes me feel like a crazy person. I also realized through all of this experience that my overall stress level has an influence on my attitude towards the tat. The better self confidence and lower level of stress I have I think “hey this is actually pretty” and when work is rough and I am mentally beat I get more self critical about it. I think some of us see our tattoos through a foggy filter of anxiety. We can’t really see the ink itself through a veil of self doubt. We definately need to learn be kinder to ourselves!

    • Hi Kim! Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing your experience! You are so right, it does feel like there is so much embarrassment and shame in sharing feelings about something that’s permanent on our bodies. I feel like we’re expected to be happy and excited about our new tattoos, but as so many people here can attest, there are also so many negative emotions that go with this process as well. Not for everyone, but for many!

      I’m so sorry to hear about your going through this anxiety, then getting the tattoo changed, then back to anxiety. I have found a lot of people who think that adding to or changing their tattoos will give them some peace, but it can make things worse. Again, this isn’t true for everyone. Yes, I would definitely recommend giving it time. I would recommend waiting more than a few weeks, I would say a few months at least. Remember that this is not a long amount of time for something you’ll have for the rest of your time here in this physical form.

      It’s also interesting that you note that your attitude about the tattoo changes based on your stress level. I hadn’t been aware of this before but it seems to make so much sense. Especially for those of us who may get tattoos during a rough time thinking it will cheer us up or be something positive, the self-criticism and negativity can really hit harder during times of stress and depression.

      Thanks for sharing your insight and I hope you come to love your tattoo or are able to make it into something you feel great about!

  • Hey Jenn,
    I just wanted to comment to say thank you so much for posting this!
    I just got my 4th tattoo but it’s my first visible one. Once I got home, I started completely freaking out! (On the bathroom floor struggling to breathe type of freak out). But, reading this really helped me see past the panic and focus on the positives.
    So thank you 🙂
    Clodagh x

  • Wow thank god for this article!! I just got a new tattoo yesterday and it’s a butterfly on my arm…I’ve had the same instant regret with my other tattoo of a year and a half now which is basically a half sleeve, but this one seems so much worse. I literally decided on it two days before getting it out of a whim and omg I hate it! I keep imagining other people with my combo of tattoos and I’m like woah they would look just as stupid as I do ahah. It’s just super dark and I wish I had gotten it smaller but I’m hoping I’ll get used to it the way I did with the other one…just seems to be taking longer for me to grow into it :/

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