As with most women, female competition has been a part of my life since I was child. I remember vying for a position in the most exclusive clique my elementary school had to offer, running errands for the cool girls, and planning ways to get new clothes in case that would give me a leg up over my fellow hopefuls. As I've grown, the lure of clique mentality has diminished, but not the pressure to see the women around me as competition. A girl who seems happier, more beautiful, and more successful than I do is an easy person for me to hate. I look at her and see less in myself. This is especially true knowing that in business, relationships and friendships, she and I will be pitted against one another.

The Shine Theory turns this attitude on its head and encourages women to remember that female friendships are a vital and rewarding part of understanding what it means to be a woman. I first heard about it in this video, and I promptly began to research. After gaining popularity in an article written for The Cut, it started circulating social media and evolving as women of all ages and backgrounds grasped onto the idea of being shine theory girls. The basic idea is that surrounding yourself with strong and powerful women can enrich your life and inspire you to greatness. If your friends shine, then you will shine. That happy, beautiful, and successful girl you so want to hate is really the girl you need to invest yourself in. If you've already got a great group of friends, this means celebrating their successes instead of secretly coveting them. Success for one particular woman is not just important for her, but for all of us.

It seems like this should be an easy thing to do, but it is common to feel like you are standing in the shadow of other women when as a group our successes and failures are so easily quantifiable. Between things such as Instagram likes, a limited amount of jobs, the numbers on a scale, or swipes left and right on dating apps, the constant comparison is nearly unavoidable.

However, investing in your female friendships and lifting the women around you up is infinitely more rewarding than competing with them for an imagined ideal. There is nothing more powerful than to know that you are surrounded by people who see the best in you and celebrate your achievements with true joy. Bringing positivity and acceptance to your relationship with your female friends can only help all of you to shine brighter. You are not less than other women, but more for knowing and learning from them.