The first time I got a tattoo, I was almost 16 and crossed state lines with my mom—hi, MJ! We planned to get tattoos with my older brother when he turned 18, but Georgia law prohibits minors from getting inked, even with parental consent. My mom, being the coolest, still wanted her tattoo so we drove to Alabama, where you only have to be 16. We got ourselves some cool lower-back tattoos and made the trek back. It was the best bonding experience ever, and I don’t regret it one bit.

Since then, I’ve gotten six more tattoos and plan to get more. It’s true what they say about ink being addicting; I love every single one of mine. Still, you shouldn’t take getting a tattoo lightly. If you’re thinking about getting inked, there are a few things you should consider first. Here is what I’ve learned from my experiences getting tattoos that may help you if you’re thinking about getting one, as well.

Tattoos are permanent

Obviously, right? But seriously, tattoos are very permanent. Yes, you can get them removed, but laser removal can be expensive, tedious, and painful. If you’re not sure you can handle having something on your body permanently, try using temporary tattoos for a bit to see if you like it. You might realize that you don’t actually want ink.

Be very sure of what you want

Seriously, I can’t stress this enough: tattoos are permanent; whatever you get on your body will be there forever, unless you choose to go through a potentially painful removal process. It should go without saying that your tattoo should be something you want on your body for the rest of your life. That really cool design may seem like a good idea to put on your body now, but make sure it’s something you’ll still want to look at when you’re 40, 50 and 60 years old.