Recently I have been reading and learning more about feminism and gender constructs while linking my different intersecting identities to learn how I want the world to treat me but also how I can treat others to make things better. Just last week at a national conference I went to an educational session about Shine Theory. Truly I went because the title is so appealing and glitter and shine is my favorite color, but I am so glad I went as I learned so many new things and left the room empowered.
While this post may seem like it is targeted to women, I encourage the gents out there to continue reading as this is also good for any population to learn and apply.
So Shine Theory essentially says that instead of feeling jealous about the success of other women or competing with them, you befriend them. The idea of this theory is ‘I don’t shine if you don’t shine’ (Cue The Killers singing Read My Mind). Essentially we want to befriend successful, strong, and powerful women so we can be better instead of putting each other down. Easy concept, but difficult to actually apply. As I previously wrote back in December in the post ‘Your Path is not my Path’, it is easy to compare each other even when we are literally doing different things. So my point is, why are we jealous and why do we minimize each other if the world is already so difficult and we should be happy when others succeed and shine.
So how do I apply this? I have a few women who I heavily rely on to check on me. Some live close to me, some live in different states, and some live in different countries. They all are my role models even when we are close to age and I strive to be as strong as they are. Usually when talking to them and I say something not very nice, roll my eyes, or I’m petty, they bring me back to the point and tell me -- Yes, but that is not what you want anyway -- It’s her/his life let them be -- or we will all be petty together and then let it go quickly because it is okay to feel down due to others success but it is equally important to feel happy and proud someone you know is making it out in the world. The systems are already not working on our favor, so when some of these amazing ladies shine, I shine. When I am not shining, they remind me of how much I can shine and vice versa.
I have mentioned it before in previous posts, I am in a cohort model program (with only one male classmate -- Hey John!) where we see the same 14 people almost every day and we interact so much it is extremely hard to not look to the person next to you and feeling like you are doing everything wrong and you are an impostor. Having a support system within these people is extremely important. Even if we applied to the same job and I did not get it, I will be happy because someone I know and is smart, competent, and prepared has this job and I feel great is them. Right now is the perfect time to lift each other up as we all venture into finding new jobs and we are looking for our shine.
In reality, this theory does not only apply to my cohort model or us looking for jobs. I feel like this theory applies to so many things that are not in academia. I can think of times where I’m out and about and I have felt fake compliments and wondered why I have received those instead of genuine compliments or simply nothing at all. Why do we like to criticize each other even when we don’t know the other person’s story? Why do we get upset when other people have more fun than we do? Why do we hate on people who are succeeding even when they are doing different things? Who knows really? And I often wonder why sometimes we feel more negatively rather than positively.
One last piece of information I want you to take away is this. Acknowledging what you need, what you want, what drives you, and what things make YOU shine is imperative in this process. Do that. Learn how you shine. Learn how the other people in the room shine. And most importantly don’t compare your shine to other people’s shine. Again, I believe that if we are genuinely happy about other people succeeding and making it we will, one, minimize negative feelings, two, be close to powerful and successful individuals, and lastly, make things better. Finally, Rihanna would say to you to ‘shine bright like a diamond’. So go forth and shine.
P.S.: I am always here to lift you up.
Mara Schaffler | Educational Administration and Human Resources Development
Mara Schaffler is a second year in the Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education (SAAHE) program within the College of Education and Human Development.