Shine Theory & My Sweetie Kim
By Laura Taylor
Kim has officially left the 09 (region). But do not fear, she remains with us here - just from a laptop on a beach in Portugal #gothehonine babyyyy.
However, as much as she would like to slip away relatively unnoticed, in the spirit of authenticity and all it seemed weird to enter a new chapter without some kind of acknowledgement. So, surprise Kim! And I apologise in advance for this probably off- brand collage that I bullied my colleague into making in your absence.
I read this article, When I Fell Apart My friends Became My Family, this week and in between periods of sobbing at my desk I realised how trite it is to slap the label ‘friend’ on someone who has pulled you back from the ends of yourself. The author, Ella, lost her partner in her early-twenties and writes;
“The statement, friends are the family you choose is banal, but I watched as it became true. In the mad world of John’s sickness, friendship became to us something as important as any blood relationship, something as vital and meaningful and profound as any romantic relationship.”
We touched on this a while back in our Friendship Love Letter. What do you call someone who plays a role in your life so much greater than the pretty vague definition of friend? When my partner got sick, Kim showed up in all the ways listed in the above article. She was there most days at the hospital even if just to sit at Muffin Break, and on the end of the phone when she couldn't. One night, when I thought I physically couldn’t take anymore she just held me and affirmed that everything was actually just quite shit. Never in my life have I experienced such honest, life-giving and unconditional love.
I feel unbelievably lucky to share my life and love with someone who finishes my sentences, knows what I am feeling before I even express it and can call me on my shit with context nobody else in this world could understand. It is literally impossible for me to list all the things our friendship brings my life, least of all serving me with an endless stream of enthusiasm towards anything I attempt.
So enter here Shine Theory; a term coined by Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sou specifically surrounding the practice of mutual investment when the norm is being pitted against each other. In a culture where peers are viewed as competitors - Shine Theory is the refreshing alternative that embraces the commitment of collaborating. “Shine Theory is an investment, over the long term, in helping someone be their best self—and relying on their help in return. It is a conscious decision to bring your full self to your friendships, and to not let insecurity or envy ravage them. Shine Theory is a commitment to asking, “Would we be better as collaborators than as competitors?” The answer is almost always yes.”
There has been lots of talk around this recently - in particular with American Congress and the power of the female cohort - but this is not to be confused with fempowerment. Shine Theory is not taking under your wing every person who cold-emails you or asks for help, nobody has capacity (or time) for that. But it is wholeheartedly championing those you already have a base level of close trust with - and relying on that in return.
It is wanting things for each other and watching them happen. It is being able to honestly say, I always knew you would get here. It is reminding them, when they don’t have the strength, or perspective, to remember. And - it is not female-specific! On Kim’s wedding day - in between the groomsmen crashing the wedding car and the entire bridal party getting caught in a thunderstorm - our collective bag got stolen, which held all the speeches. To be honest the night is a bit of a prosecco induced blur, but I remember insinuating in my completely-winged bridesmaid speech that I was sliiiightly fearful our relationship was going to change. That we could no longer have sleepovers, a shared Spotify account, or four-hour long dinners where the waiters refuse to serve us more water. What I didn’t expect was that I would gain a best friend in her husband, Matt.
When they were first married, every Monday evening Kim and Matt came for dinner. She brought a bottle of their leftover wedding prosecco, he made banana muffins and I cooked pasta. When we moved to the city, we’d do Saturday brunch and he would counsel me over the latest work/dating drama. It takes a special guy to welcome his wife’s best friend with open arms and sit there while they shriek together over a far-too-niche inside joke and have everyone around them slightly worried about an entrenched dynamic - but he does.
While it is quite impossible right now to imagine a week where I don’t see them every few days, or message each other every hour, I also know that Shine Theory extends far further than the distance of the Pacific Ocean, and it is far too rich an experience to keep to ourselves. In his podcast on ‘seasons’, Rob Bell talks about how when we white-knuckle things, what could have been a graduation towards a new chapter can become a bitter divorce. It is such a rich thing to be able to celebrate over a decade with someone, keep each other grounded while still allowing space for natural change.
So Kim, the four to my two, I love this for you, I back you fiercely and I hope you and Matt live out all your dreams overseas… but you better come back or I swear I will ruin our Instagram aesthetic.