Let's talk about shine theory.

It would appear that shine theory is the new buzz concept for 2014/2015. Everyone from Sheryl Sandberg, Taylor Swift, the honourable and well loved Amy Poehler to self proclaimed feminists have touched on it at some point. 

So,  the underlying thesis is that if you (especially women) surround yourself with other powerful women (who are inadvertently 'better' than you or more successful than you) you will be inspired towards higher ambition and propel yourself and your life forward. I feel like this is basically a glamorised version of the advice your mother gave you when you were 6. "Don't hang around kids with bad attitudes and behaviour because you know: 'birds of a feather'....".

I like the shine theory but at the same time I have serious problems with it. The concept (although its proponents mean well) is quite archaic and maybe even irrelevant in these times. Thanks to technology and media, we have more than enough access to how others live their lives and all the amazing things that they are up to. From primary school friends, the new best friend we met at the corner cafe this morning to celebrities and even people we don't know. All of this 'access' can be quite overwhelming at times....well actually, ALL the time. Think about it, I'm sure your Twitter and Instagram feeds are filled with posts of those who inspire you; either to be healthier, to be more educated, to be more daring or to be a better human in general. Although this is all good, it can also have really negative effects as studies have repeatedly shown a high correlation between dissatisfaction with ones own circumstances and social media overuse. This is because (whether you're doing it consciously or not) by 'checking in' on what other people are up to and what they are doing, you are effectively comparing yourself to them. And if there's anything we know about comparing yourself to others it's that it is the antithesis of happiness. 

I, like most people, try to surround myself with people who are inspired, hard-working, kind and simply killing it...because they will push me to be inspired, hard-working and a better human being. However, I have definitely felt the negative effect of these relationships as well. You can sometimes end up over-extending yourself, being too hard on yourself and not giving yourself enough time to stop and smell the roses (because you know, 'no days off', right?). I'm not advocating that you should deliberately accept mediocrity and live within the confines of your comfort zone, I'm simply reminding you to check in with yourself (your true self) now and then. If you find that you end up doing things which bring you no beauty, joy or usefulness and you are doing these just because that's what your superhuman 'shine' clique is doing, then maybe its time to stop. You know the good ol' saying :"Check yourself before you wreck yourself" (I can literally feel your eyes rolling at this point :p)

I'm all for self improvement and living a fulfilled life but I'm also about living a meaningful life, a life that I can account for. And what better way to account for your life than by doing things which truly mean something to YOU (whether that makes you shine or not).

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