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I Hate My New Tattoo: And Other Millennial Problems

Holy crap I messed up, like, big time. I pride myself on my ability to turn an oil spill into tequila, but this time, there’s just no going back.

For the last year, China has been smashing me into the ground relentlessly and I have been thirsty for something to commemorate this experience and to remind myself when I’m down that this is what I came back from. If you’re new to Wander Onwards, then here’s a few spark-notes about what has happened to me this year.

  • Shady teaching company threatened to send the police to my home and deport me if I quit… still quit anyways (Nov 2013).
  • New design job for a Tech Start up screwed me out of 2 months worth of salary (Jan/Feb 2014).
  • I contracted Salmonella for a month and I couldn’t eat for weeks. I lost 10 pounds, was in and out of the hospital, and eventually I fainted on the subway and rushed to the emergency room (March 2014).
  • Savings account was completely depleted due to my admission back into college for the purposes of gaining a new Visa since I’m too young for a legal working Visa. This wave of poverty forced me to choose not to eat sometimes (March 2014).
  • And some drama in between because I’m me.

To be honest, Salmonella was the best thing that could have happened to me because I had awesome health insurance, but I had no money for decent food! So, I just didn’t eat… because I couldn’t and that’s how I skated by with $500 USD for two months while I hide from my landlord. IVs count as food right?

But if I can come back from this, I can come back from ANYTHING. I won’t lie, I be feelin’ myself a little. Ya dig?

Now that I’m in NYC for a few weeks for a consulting project (aka dream job), I decided to commemorate this last year with a little ink. I wanted Chinese cherry blossoms on my wrists because I already have two tattoos on my torso and wanted some visible, tasteful ink that I could see regularly and reminisce privately.

“Find your yourself where the cherry blossoms bloom”

Cherry blossoms also bloom in China in April, which is when stuff finally started getting better for me, so I thought it was incredibly appropriate.

So I found an awesome tattoo parlor in NYC, picked my favorite artist, and headed down to the consultation the next day. The artist was a super cool guy, but he was “too cool” for what I wanted. Smaller. Thinner. Dainty. I want it dainty, damn it! But it wouldn’t “look cool” if it was thinner he said.

I should have said no after I saw the stencil. I was told that the tattoo would be thinner when actually tattooed. It wasn’t. I was also told that the blossoms would be detailed/look differently during the coloring process. It wasn’t, again.

But part of this is my fault. I should have gone to an Asian tattoo artist specialist and not just an artist that I admired.

My tattoo is not hideous (actual picture above). It’s still small and cute like a Pinterest-dream, but it’s not my dream. I wanted something more traditional, light, and detailed. So now I want it gone.

Here are some fun facts about tattoo removal.

  1. Most laser companies will want you to wait a minimum of 6 weeks for a new tattoo to be removed (DAMN IT!).
  2. People say its LESS painful than actually getting the tattoo
  3. It’ll take anywhere from 2-6 sessions depending on the size and coloring
  4. Getting a marriage annulled IS EASIER than removing a tattoo (Click her for more info).

So basically, I should have just gotten married. There would be less repercussions and it’s more socially acceptable to hate your significant other than something YOU decided to put on your body.

Le sigh.  This fiasco is a result of me trying to be something I’m not. I am not a cool tattooed chick. I am not a die-hard artist. I am a girl with a suitcase constantly in hand that refuses to give up; but that doesn’t mean I need something physical to remind me of that. Let’s hope I never get amnesia from cracking my head open while rock-climbing.  It’s tough to be in a visual generation where everyone is scrambling to communicate their uniqueness non-verbally; when in reality, we should all just stick with our intended mediums and quit trying to compete with one another.

I am a storyteller.  But my stories are best expressed on a page and not on my skin.

Even after this negative experience, I still love tattoos. I love people with tattoos. I just hate MY tattoo. That’s all. So I’m going to fix my problem by throwing money at it that I don’t have like any patriotic American would.

… this whole situation really makes me question having children. After all, you can’t just laser that away…

I think what was most surprising about this experience was the reaction I got from my mom and Bae. Both are somewhat conservative (in comparison to me at least). Both think I’m incredibly adorable. Both just laughed and said, “Well what can you do?”

No “I told you so” or “you’re an idiot,” which may in fact be true, but it was nice to hear that the people who loved me most understand that there are just some things I need to learn the hard way… like keeping a budget or sampling exotic fish that could potentially kill me.

But such is life and your early 20’s. Come along for the ride.

Karen Shatafian

Tuesday 14th of October 2014

Vanessa-It is amazing what you have been through! I am sorry you had to deal with so many challenges. About your tattoo, I have three and I have felt the same each time. Immediately after I got them I thought, "Holy Crap what have I done?" I think just because of the permanency of them. But then as time goes by I reflect on the reason I got them and the inspiration for the image. I come to love them and appreciate them for what they say about my journey. I am hoping you are finding this as well. It is a way for you to express your beautiful story. Good luck with everything!!


Tuesday 14th of October 2014

Thank you for posting this. I went through a similar situation and I honestly thought I was the only person on earth. I wanted my first tattoo to commemorate a time in my life. The tattoo artist seemed knowledgeable on paper (and it was a reputable, well-known shop) and I loved the stencil he drew up. But in the same way, he was "too cool" to give me exactly what I wanted. The tattoo did not look like the stencil, the colors were all wrong, the details were off, and it was just not what I expected. I hated it.

I blamed myself too: maybe I rushed into it, maybe I should have done more research on the artist, maybe I should have walked out when he couldn't do exactly what I wanted. None of my friends or family (and even myself) could understand how I could possibly hate something I CHOSE to put on my body. It was hugely embarrassing and so I often pretended I loved it, but secretly vowed to have it removed ASAP. Everyone said it was beautiful. But it was just not my beautiful.

For the next few months, I was miserable. I cried. It was all I thought about. I still hated it. But I do believe everything happens for a reason. It's been over a year, and I still have bad days, but overall I love it. I've learned to love it, just as I've learned to love any other part of my body I wasn't particularly happy with at first. I chose to change my mind about the tattoo instead of changing the tattoo (plus the cost, pain, and uncertain results associated with removal).

For now I am okay. I've told myself that if it is still something I struggle with years from now (and if i ever rebuild my trust in tattoos artists), I will consider getting it covered up. I think too I was trying to be something I'm not. I DON'T need a physical reminder of my struggles and successes to be confident in who I am. I guess I just learned that the hard way.

Gloria Atanmo

Friday 10th of October 2014

Your summary of the struggles hit me hard. I had no idea, yet and still you continue to slay at everything. This is why I admire your stubborn ass. You don't quit at life and when the going gets tough, you show it that you're a hell of a lot tougher. Love ya chick and can't wait to finally meet up in Europe... somewhere, anywhere! Xx


Friday 10th of October 2014

you are literally queen

Denise [But First, Live!]

Friday 10th of October 2014

Damn! I feel your pain w/tattoos. Side story: I have several small tattoos and learned the hard way that the way they draw is the way they'll trace, regardless of what they say. Grrrr. Out of the 7 different tattooists I've visited, all 7 traced exxxxactly what they drew even when they said it'd look thinner, more wispy, bla bla bla.... (so for the 7th, I made sure I had him erase and redraw until it was exactly what I wanted. No shame. Haha)

Best of luck with the removal! If I told you what I thought at first glance, you'd totally want to pull my hair through the screen =) Haha. So i'll shush.

You are way too awesome! Keep globetrotting and handling all the hurdles thrown your way like the Super Woman that you are <3