Prompt Images

I don’t remember who issued the initial challenge—Bradley, Andy, or me—but for our birthdays, we started listing off lessons learned, one per year on Earth.

The tradition of “30 for 30,” “31 for 31,” and so on, is the culmination of our on-and-off game of text message tag called Question of the Week. As questions go, it is the Super Bowl;  it takes discipline, strategy, and execution throughout the year, watching tons of game film to prepare, and then it all comes down to this.

My birthday was back in October, but this was a long year, fellas. Forgive my tardiness.

Behold! The biggest question of the year.

What are the 34 most important lessons learned from your 34th year on Earth?

The truth, categorized.

On the pursuit of happiness

lessons learned

1. You love singing and dancing and making people laugh. You are a tremendous ham. Do these things with gusto.
2. Don’t do things you don’t care about. Don’t go to things you don’t care about. Don’t care about things you don’t care about. It’s OK to relax, but why would you knowingly waste your own time?
3. If you spend too much time indoors, you get cranky and boring. Hey idiot! Go outside!

On kicking as much ass as you can, as often as you can

lessons learned

4. You are the catalyst. If you don’t plan it or do it or start it, no one will. People are counting on you. You are counting on you.
5. Quiet mornings, before anyone else is awake, belong to you. Rage, motherfucker.
6. You invented a miraculous sleep aid called The Sweatpants Helmet™.
7. You are a natural hunter. And you have to kill if you want to eat.

On identity or whatever you are

lessons learned

8. Your personal brand does not have to be SuperFunny™ or SuperSerious™ or SuperTough™ or SuperWeird™ or SuperSuper™. Sing as many notes as you can hit.
9. The thing you want more than anything is for people to hear you.
10. Your nostalgia is a toy that you haven’t yet assembled. If you don’t one day write a book about it, you’re wasting the gift.
11. Your face is your worst feature, but that’s OK. You worked for everything else you got.

On things you ingest

lessons learned

12. Your survival requires only peanuts, bananas, apples, and good tea.
13. Coffee cake is the only cake.
14. Drinking tea makes people think you’re some kind of exotic misfit of the counterculture. And you are, but like, not because of the tea thing.
15. Attilio’s in the shopping center on Pond Road in Freehold, New Jersey has the best pizza in the world.

On creativity as a bodily function

lessons learned

16. Start a cult of creativity. Surround yourself with good people who expect a lot of themselves and of you. Mega bonus points if they have the confidence and audacity to critique you and your work.
17. There is no better place to write, think, or puke than while traveling.
18. Starting a magazine will be even more difficult time consuming than you thought, but you have always thrived when effort was the primary metric. You are built for endurance.

On white-knuckling through some bullshit

lessons learned

19. Even when presented with evidence that your parents are mortal, it doesn’t mean you have to accept it.
20. After all this time, how are you even the slightest bit surprised that people are jealous and bitter because of your success? You’re too smart to let this sideswipe you so many times. Haters gonna hate.
21. Try not to forget that America hates women. Keep fighting these idiots with your competence, intelligence, and physical endurance. They will all inevitably fail to suppress your rebellion.

Corny ass Pinterest shit


22. You are both more fragile and stronger than you think. Now go ahead and roll your eyes until they fully orbit the sun.
23. Yes, you work hard, but don’t ever forget: You are so lucky.
24. The best advice you’ve ever received remains the best advice you’ve ever received: Spend as much time with the people and things that you do care about and as little with the people and things that you don’t.

On the decay of Western civilization

lessons learned

25. America’s obsession with rich people doing terrible things is the reason we’re all going to die or submit to robots/tyranny/Vanderpump Rules.
26. Snark and irony don’t do anything productive. Everything is better if you care.
27. Sometimes you wish Google didn’t exist. It was so much more fun to just wonder absently.
28. More people are bigoted, racist idiots than you think. Some of them are otherwise good people but you ignored the bigotry before it had consequences. Your long silence and belief in the good of humanity is your cross to bear. Don’t fall asleep at the wheel. Crusade, crusade, crusade.
29. America is more of an idea than a country. So, even an ugly billionaire with a Twitter account can’t just destroy it.

On friendship and murder

lessons learned

30. Accept your friends and their new lives and stupid babies. But don’t let them turn into complete lunatics. Someone has to hold these monsters accountable.
31. Talk about things. Don’t NOT talk about things. It’s a good idea to make people feel uncomfortable.
32. Thinking quietly and alone is not wasting time. It is not antisocial. It is how you work best, and also the reason you’ve not murdered anyone in the face.
33. Goats rule. If the world becomes a dystopian apocalyptic mess, find a herd(?) and live amongst them.
34. Friends who don’t actively support your writing don’t understand you. Let them lose you. You owe them nothing. You are already giving them everything.

What are some of the life lessons you learned this year? Add to my list or email your own year in review to kelaine.conochan [at]

Kelaine Conochan

The editor-in-chief of this magazine, who should, in all honesty, be a gym teacher. Don’t sleep on your plucky kid sister.

learn more
Share this story
About The Prompt
A sweet, sweet collective of writers, artists, podcasters, and other creatives. Sound like fun?
Learn more