Here's the good news. You can do it. Look around you at all the people who have been inked and you'll see just how many others have endured and survived the process, many of which have gone back repeatedly for even bigger and more detailed designs. Hence the phrase that tattoos can be addictive.
Tattoos are a painful pleasure. Yes they hurt, but since it's self-inflicted many people find the pain bearable once they know what to expect. Unlike a tragic accident or the natural pains of childbirth, a tattoo is premeditated, pre-planned, and you can even select a body area that's less sensitive for your first tattoo. All of these things can help make you feel much more in charge of the tattooing process which is helpful in handling the experience.
How to Cope
Mind over matter is really the key to dealing with any sort of pain. If you focus on the discomfort and invest your energy there, you are much more likely to feel every single sensation and react strongly to it. Try to relax and practice breathing techniques that help center your mind and body and put you at ease. Some people like to listen to music during their tattoo. If you have a music player and headphones and you don't obstruct your tattooist as he works, this will work wonders to take your mind off of the sensations.
Products for Pain Management
In addition to basic relaxation methods, many artists will use a numbing cream on the area being tattooed to help alleviate some of the discomfort. Ink-Eeeze manufactures a wonderful product that many artists rely on specifically for larger or more painful areas. While some people prefer to go without a numbing product, others believe the added help is beneficial in getting though the design process. Another thing to consider is artist touch. Some artists have built a reputation for their gentle hand. If you hear of one that is rumored to have a gentle approach you may find them worth it, especially for a first, or a detailed piece located on a sensitive area.
Areas to Avoid
If you are going in for your first tattoo, don't push it and opt for one of the more painful tattoo spots. Instead, opt for a tattoo on one of the least painful areas of the body, such as on your arm, outer thighs and legs.
In addition to tattoo placement, be mindful of the size of your tattoo. Larger pieces are best avoided until you are familiar with tattoo pain. In the event that you choose a larger piece, your artist may find it necessary to break the process into several sessions as needed to help you cope with the discomfort.
Your first tattoo should be of an average size so that you can better handle and tolerate the event. Once you've added a few tattoos under your belt so to speak, you can begin to plan on areas and pieces that are much larger in scale with full confidence that you can sit through the session, some of which may be hours long. Even then, you may find it necessary to work in increments anyway. Many people have large unfinished tattoos. Sometimes this is because they have artists who are not available due to traveling or convention work. Other times it is because the tattoo became unaffordable and painfully unbearable. If you plan ahead and are reasonable, you should be able to complete the tattoo process the first time, and with proper aftercare, reap a beautiful result.