New Year, New You: Be Like the Immortal Jellyfish in 2021

New Year’s resolutions are, for the most part, a big scam. I’m a big proponent of self-reflection and concerted efforts at personal growth, but throwing money at diet peddlers and quick-and-easy-one-time-yearly-payment fitness plan hawkers isn’t the way to do it. Believe me, the idea that we can completely reinvent ourselves at the beginning of a new year is certainly appealing, but that just isn’t how humans work.

But what if it was?

What if humans were like immortal jellyfish? You might read the word “immortal” and scoff immediately, knowing in your heart that nothing is immortal except that pimple on your upper back, Queen Elizabeth II, and your feelings of inadequacy. But in this case your heart would be wrong; the immortal jellyfish is real, and it can theoretically live forever in a constant cycle of aging and rebirth.

The immortal jellyfish, Turritopsis dohrnii, swimming around and doing jellyfish stuff. This photo is courtesy of Hypeness.

In practice these jellies don’t live forever; they’re immortal, not indestructible. You could still kill one by smooshing it, or by popping it in your mouth for a light snack (I don’t recommend doing either of these things). They’re immortal in the sense that they don’t die from old age. A mature individual that is starved, or damaged, or a drama queen seeking attention can revert back to the first stage of the life cycle, known as a polyp. Then they can progress through their life cycle all over again.

I’m not advocating for trying to become a baby again, though from what I remember being a baby was pretty sweet (could poop whenever I wanted, constant attention, didn’t have to go grocery shopping). But maybe a good lesson to take forward into the new year is one of adaptation in the face of hardship. If an adult immortal jellyfish is having a rough time, it doesn’t give up—it changes itself to better fit those conditions. So instead of aimlessly starting a fad diet or joining a gym (and then quitting by February 1st), maybe we should focus on parts of ourselves that are hurting, or struggling, and find ways to adapt. For me, I clearly have been starved of attention since I’m no longer a baby who can cry and scream to get free affection whenever I want—hence, this new column!           

As we enter 2021, throw aside that societal pressure to match a cookie-cutter beauty standard and find the areas where you, personally, need to adapt. Be like the immortal jellyfish!

Darren Incorvaia can be followed on Twitter @MegaDarren.

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