As a seasoned member of the piercing community, here is a personal guide about my piercings based on pain and maintenance.

1. Earlobe piercings

my left ear: triple lobe and forward helix

Now the easy ones first. I will be talking about my ear lobe piercings. I got my first ear lobe piercing when I was only seven years old. My sister had gotten it just a year prior, and naturally as the younger sibling, I had to get one too. I sat in that chair at the classic Claires, squeezed the bear (iykyk), and walked out with a beautiful set of earrings. Little did I know this would be a gateway to my current addiction. I like to call each one an identity crisis, therefore I am basically at identity crisis number 10 considering the amount of piercings I have gotten in just that last couple of years.

For the pain level for the first lobe piercing, I would say it's only about a 3/10. The biggest issue I find is that people are more scared of the needle the the actual pain. Luckily, I do not share this fear. The pain is more of an uncomfortable pressure, but after they clean it and you're able to twist the earring, the pain is minimal. The maintenance is very easy as you just clean your earring for just around a month. I recommend not changing it to big, or cheap metal earrings for at least a couple of months, allowing it to fully heal.

I got my double and triple lobe piercings when I was 15 years old. I was able to get them by saying that's all that I wanted for my birthday and nothing more. I successfully convinced my mother, and sat down ready to take on the challenge. However, for some reason these were a little more painful than I remembered the first being. I found that the second piercing was about a 4/10 on the pain level scale, maybe because I had forgotten what it felt like for the first one. I decided to follow the second up and chase the pain with another one. The triple piercing did not hurt as bad, and I really like how they fit along my ear lobe in a nice line. It's the same amount of healing time, and just a little bit more painful than the first. I say that they're incredibly worth it, but make sure you get good jewelry that is either titanium or 24 karat gold.

2. Cartilage piercings

my right ear: triple lobe along with a rook and helix piercing.

After I received my triple lobe piercings, I was ready to brave the big bois. I chose to challenge myself when I was 16 years old, just barely getting my mother's permission for my helix piercing. I honestly think she did it as an observational experiment just to see what the inside of a tattoo parlor was like considering she never been in one before, therefore she happily walked me in and signed the papers. I will admit, this one hurt a little bit more than the double and triple lobe piercing. However, I think I hyped it up and was so nervous I'd hear a *pop* that I nearly blacked out, but it was silent, quick and done before I knew it. The key is to look up the studio that you attend and make sure you get jewelry that is a quality metal in order to avoid not only infection, but also unnecessary pain. I walked out sporting a nice titanium hoop, and a new bad ass attitude. 16-year-old me was ready for more, but she would have to wait until she was 18 because my mom would not sign off on more.

You know that classic tradition of buying cigarettes when you turn 18? Is that just a Kansas thing? Honestly, probably. But I choose to challenge the authority and really experience my right of passage of finally being an adult in a different way. I went to go and get my rook pierced. Knowing that my parents would never approve this unique look, I covered it with my hair for a good week before they noticed. The issue with this one is not the pain of the piercing (it is not bad at all shockingly), it is the aftermath that's an absolute disaster. The reason that I was exposed was actually because my right ear had swelled up so much becoming so red that it was problematic and poking out of my hair. I will never forget the horror on my mother's face when she walked into my bathroom with me laying on the floor with my ear in a bowl of warm sea salt water. if you ever consider getting a rook piercing, get ready for a world of pain and a lot of salt soaks for about three months. I am not exaggerating when I say that I still experience some issues with this piercing even a year later. She occasionally gets very irritated when I wear headphones or if I sleep on it, however I love the location of it and it gives a nice balanced look to my ear. If it wasn't as aesthetically pleasing as it is, I probably would've taken it out after the third month of irritation.

3. The navel

My navel minutes after piercing

Now this is the epitome of an identity crisis. It was second semester of my freshman year of college, I was in that classic, “What is my purpose?" stage of the college experience. So the best way that I chose to cope with this uncertain feeling? Why get bangs, dye my hair, and of course, get a belly button piercing!

So basically long story short one of my friends didn't have her ears pierced so naturally I made an appointment for her and me to go to one of my favorite designer's pop-up on Melrose Avenue. Well the only problem was I didn't know what I wanted to get pierced. So I called my mom, and how did I approach this one? I asked (respectfully bc my mom is a literal queen) “Would you be more disappointed if I showed up at home with a nose piercing or a bellybutton piercing?" She expressed her disdain for nose piercings, but actually was not that mad at the bellybutton piercing. I was absolutely shocked. She said if I got a very nice and small piece of jewelry, it actually might look “kind of cute." Therefore, I decided to full send it. I literally had no idea what to expect, I was with two of my friends and they were cheering me on the entire time. I turned my face to hide the impending tears, and I experienced the second worst pain in my entire life. This is coming from a woman who tore her ACL playing tennis... That's another story. I laid there as the piercer struggled to get the needle through the top of my navel and then shoved the bar in. Okay the description makes her sound very rough, but she was incredibly experienced and did a great job. The excruciating pain was over before I knew it. The only issue I had with this one was that it bled profusely during dinner that night, but after I cleaned it up, it stopped. I soaked it in some warm salt water, I washed it with unscented soap, and today it is honestly doing fine. It's been about two months, and I absolutely love it. Strange enough, I would recommend this to anyone that's thinking about it. While the pain is about a 7/10, it is 100% worth it. You just have to take really good care of it, and get really good jewelry to avoid your body rejecting it. :)

So overall. Piercings are an incredible way to express your rebellious side while still appearing aesthetically pleasing and “artsy". I absolutely love them, but I do warn you. You get addicted. I have an appointment for June 8th and will have a new piercing haul for another time. I hope this guide has helped you understand the pain, thoughts and maintenance that goes into the art of piercings.