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That time in Berlin…

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Last week I was in Berlin to attend the launch party of the latest issue of The Hundert which featured 100 Successful Female Startup Founders from all around Europe, for which I was fortunate enough to be one of.

So as awesome as that is, it’s not what I am going to post about here. Instead I want to take you on my spontaneous adventure of getting my first tattoo, because after all, I think the best part of being human is being spontaneously random every now and then.

It started with a 4.30am wakeup and an early morning drive to the airport, something I find myself doing all too often. I was so excited to be visiting Berlin for the first time, despite having been in Europe nearly 6 years now, it was still a place I had not yet been. After all, for me there is nothing more exciting than “getting lost” in a new environment, where everything is new and you are left to just “explore.”

After finding a good dose of inspiration on the short flight over, I landed in Berlin buzzing. It was a sunny day, I had my note pad full with plans to take over the world and I was eager to meet the fellow female entrepreneurs that had also featured in the Hundert issue.

The morning was fun, Berlin was beautiful and I could work and conference call from a cute little cafe in the sunshine: bliss. We joked on the call about how crazy it was that four people, all sitting different countries (Berlin, Belfast, London and Luxembourg) could interact in real time. God Bless Skype.

2pm rolled around. The call was done, I was hungry and decided to Yelp a funky vegetarian café. I found a place that looked AMAZING. The food came with the utmost of reviews and the atmosphere was supposedly the definition of Berlin cafe chic… The only problem was… It was about a 35 min walk away. I didn’t care and set off with my Google Map. I was in constant communication with my team back at the office, sharing things I knew they would appreciate, such as roads named after “beer” and a barbecue man that actually wore a barbecue… YES, WORE A BARBECUE… (I posted a photo because I knew you would not believe me).

Ok… So when I finally arrived there was no café to be seen. Nothing. It was my first official Yelp fail. Sad times. I continued to walk in hope, then it happened. I saw a tattoo parlour with a giant sign “walk-ins welcome today.” It wasn’t that grungy tattoo parlour that you see in the back streets of large cities… It looked clean, modern and reputable. I walked past it, trying to look in the window, while trying to avoid the people know I was looking - you know that awkward situation - they know you know you are looking, but they pretend that you aren’t just as much as you pretend you aren’t - and to be fair, I was dressed in my “power blazer.” I guess I didn’t really look like the type to be contemplating a tattoo that day, oh how looks can be deceiving…

That first rush of excitement of the possibility of getting my first tattoo was soon swept away by anxiety. “What would my husband say,” “Would I regret it?” “DO I really want a tattoo?.” All different emotions were twirling inside me, excitement, fear, exhilaration and “bad-ass-ness (is that a word, or even an emotion?).” I thought, well conditions are perfect, it’s now or never. In fact, it was one of the moments that arise from time to time when you truly believe you will regret not doing it, more than you will regret doing it and if there is one thing I have learnt to embrace more and more over the years is “going with that gut feeling.” So I walked in…

Yes… the power suit wearing, english speaking, solo female walked into the tattoo joint in the middle of Berlin. AND IT WAS AWESOME. I asked with a small voice if it was possible to get a tattoo - he said “sure, when you are looking to make an appointment?” - I hesitated for a second then said… “Ummm, does now suit?” He was a little surprised, but then a little smile crept in and he replied… “Is it your first one?” - I gulped and said “yep…” He said - how about in 30 minutes. I SAID SURE. A streak of terror hit once again on walking out of the shop and my rational brain kicked in flinging me with questions such as “did you read the reviews of this place?” “have you got your design ready.” I decided to go for a coffee and do some research..

The coffee turned into a double vodka, with lime and soda. I needed a dose of liquid courage. I opened up my laptop with shaking hands, hoping desperately to find good reviews… I found them… BUT THEY WERE MOSTLY IN GERMAN. Crap, I thought. I don’t have time for this. Hello Google Translate. Copy/paste… I start reading the translation which started out somewhere along the lines of “patchy colour work, bad alignment” - my heart skipped a beat, what the f*ck was I doing? I continued reading - “all corrected to perfection by this amazing tattoo artist” - PHEW. I kept reading review after review - amazing, brilliant, Berlin’s best tattoos. I felt reassured and went about drawing the message that I had wanted as a tattoo for years - “Mind over Matter” (because after all, anything you can believe you can achieve, you will).

The longest half an hour of my life finally comes to an end. I find myself back in the tattoo parlour, surrounded by different types of people: one guy covered from head to toe in tats, another lady in mid forties getting a wrist tattoo dedicated to a special life event, a young honey moon couple enquiring about couples tattoos. It was about then the that anxiety Gods came to play yet again. I started to really doubt my choice, but there was no going back… Well there probably was, but I didn’t want to back out, it’s just not my style. So I waited for another horrendously long 20 minutes…

As each minute ticked along I doubted my decision even more…

Then it happened. Cindy… the lady that was about to permanently change me for the rest of my life called my name.. I walked in, acting cool, when in fact I was anything but. She placed a stencil version on my skin and checked I was happy with it. I looked at it quickly and nodded quickly, but it was more like that glassy eyed look, looking without looking. In fact, she could have shown me a heart with I love mum and I would have nodded anyway. I just wanted it done. The bzzzzzzz of the tattoo thingy (that’s the official word) started and it wasn’t as painful as I thought. After about 30 minutes.. IT WAS DONE…

And you know what… I couldn’t be more happy. Having a statement that I live my life by permanently integrated into who I am is powerful. And my husband thinks it’s pretty cool too.. So to sum up the story - if your gut says go for it, and you think you will regret missing the opportunity rather than going for it, I say do what makes you happy.

- signed, a now “badass tattoo woman”

Oh and PS. Mum - if you have some how managed to find this blog, I got a tattoo :p



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