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Essay

Shininess

By Samantha Loong

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How shiny are the people around you? Your friends? Your family? The people you work with? A while ago, a friend said something that made me think about "shininess" — how we reflect good things back at each other. I revealed to her my insecurities when meeting academics in social situations, as I often feel completely out of my depth. I often feel like I don't know enough, have nothing to say and am not worthy of being in such esteemed company. These are people who are deeply passionate about their subject, and have done so much reading and research about it. I however, spend a good part of my day laughing at videos of animals doing cute things.

My friend wasn't having any of this: "You're obviously out of touch with how brilliant you are. Lots of people should be reprimanded for their lack of shininess to reflect this back to you."

Her words took me by surprise. I tried to come back with something reassuring: "Oh, that was Old Me. New Me is much better at being less insecure." But in truth, New Me still forgets to check the level of shine in and around her from time to time.

In order to not come across as arrogant know-it-alls, we're often told to be modest, and downplay our talents and achievements. Sometimes we're made to feel bad about feeling good. But here was my friend, in all her shining glory, reminding me that I matter — I didn't realise how much the reminder itself mattered, until I heard it. And it felt good. It started a small glow of light inside me, and I began to wonder how I could spread this feeling.

I began to wonder what, or who, in my life was a black hole, sucking this light from me. I began to wonder if I was shiny enough to the people around me — to my friends, family, colleagues and students. Some of the black holes can't be avoided, but this is exactly why we need to find those special shiny people, and keep them close.

My friend did more than just remind me that I matter. She reminded me that I've proved to myself that shininess happens, and shininess works. I was reminded about a blog project I started several years ago, which involved publishing a list of things that made me smile that day — for 100 days. I shared each day with friends and family on social media, and to my surprise, so many of them told me it brightened their day as well.

Perhaps we don't need a blog for everyday shininess. Maybe we just need to remember to shine for others. Because the more we shine back at each other, the brighter life will be.

輝いていること

自信をなくしたり、落ち込んだりすることは誰にでもある。しかし、そんな時、自分の周囲の人が輝いていることで救われることはないだろうか。筆者は自分もそんな輝きを放つ人でありたいと思う。

The Japan Times ST: September 16, 2016

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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