Reflections on healing trauma, writing, and books by Tokyo-based memoirist
I Shine If You Shine

I Shine If You Shine

I’m about halfway through the book Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. In the book, they go into detail about a concept they invented called Shine Theory. Apparently, it was a viral hashtag back in its day. Until I read about it in their book, I’d never heard of it.

Those practicing Shine Theory are usually from traditionally marginalized groups, and they work together to help each other succeed. The work they do for each other comes in the form of emotional support, as well as practical stuff, like publicly giving credit where credit is due, and help with negotiating for better salaries and/or promotions.

One of the tenets of Shine Theory is to cultivate “a spirit of genuine happiness and excitement when your friends are doing well, and being there for them when they aren’t.” I’ve never been one to begrudge someone’s success or celebrate their failures (unless they’re a bad person or I dislike them), so I don’t have to worry too much about cultivating the first part. I’ve struggled with the second part. I find it hard to be there for people during their bad times. I worry that I’ll make their problems worse when they’re down, so I try to stay out of the way.

This isn’t to say that I don’t ever struggle when I see other people succeed. It’s not because I think they don’t deserve their success or that they shouldn’t have it. I want them to have it, but I want to also have it. Luckily, it’s not something that eats me up too much. I can lament my lack of success for a few minutes and then move on.

Maybe I’ll start a Shine Theory network at some point. I don’t know how I’ll do that, but it wouldn’t be anything big. It’d be intimate and devoted, which is how Sow and Friedman recommend doing it.

By the way, my cat, Dylan has developed a truly luxurious winter coat. He has especially soft fur. It’s almost mink-like, and it has become super-thick and gorgeous.

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