When it comes to ideas about relationships and success, what exactly does it mean for a woman to be truly empowered? This is the question that author Heather Stanislaus aims to address in her book, The Evolution of Her: Redefining Your Beliefs about Your Feminine Identity, initially released in 2015.
Although in many ways, the traditional landscape of marriage appears to be changing, the conventional ideas and values surrounding the concept of marriage are still deeply entrenched. This is often the case when it comes to timelines for when a woman should marry, have children, and start a career - or even whether or not she wants to.
A Pew Research Center survey revealed that most Americans believe that being married or being in a committed relationship and having children was more important for a woman, than for a man. Most Americans also believed that having a job or career that they enjoyed was more essential for a man than for a woman. This study is just one example of how deeply ingrained some conventional standards can be, especially when attributing the different values that women and men may have about relationships and career success.
In the book, The Evolution of Her, Stanislaus takes a straight-forward, no-nonsense look at how and why so many women believe they are not allowed to be happy unless they follow a rigid path of getting married and having children and a set timeline for doing so.
The book is a practical personal empowerment guide for women that imparts how they can redefine their beliefs about feminine identity without dissolving the dream of getting married and raising kids if they desire to do so.
"Don't get stuck in thinking that you or your life needs to be a certain way. There is no need to walk the same road as everyone else."
The Awakening Moment
"I became fascinated with this redefinition when my own beliefs about how I should live my life caused me pain. As a young woman I thought that in order to be happy I had to follow a prescribed life plan of marriage and children," Stanislaus said. "But my image of a happy woman was not aligning with my reality. At times, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of expectations barely able to hold my head above water. In an effort to resolve my internal conflict I began to investigate who I was and asked myself: Why do I believe what I believe?"
The Evolution of Her delves deeply into that question, exploring how our mothers and grandmothers had few choices about their own paths because women were so immensely undervalued in their eras. Although times may have changed, our psyches have not caught up. As a result, neither has our society as a whole.
"We have many more opportunities than our mothers and grandmothers ever had, but we haven't entirely accepted the changes in our societal status when it comes to our personal lives. Many of us cling to old systems and ideologies that don't necessarily reflect our current reality," Stanislaus said. "Often we hold on to these beliefs out of fear of not achieving 'feminine normalcy.' My book digs beneath our social and psychological influences to better understand what drives our desires. By uncovering the reasons for our beliefs I aim to help women move forward in a healthy way."
Redefining Conventional Standards
Stanislaus doesn’t oppose getting married or having children, but she believes these decisions should be made based on a woman’s own unique values, principles and timeline. Her book delivers gems of wisdom about self-acceptance, living in the now, and surrendering our need to control our futures, along with other positive guidance to help women re-examine their beliefs about finding happiness. She also reminds women of the advanced reproductive medical options available to them— such as embryo and egg freezing— that give women the ability to temporarily defer pregnancy, so they may pursue a higher level of education, advance their careers, or become better established before having children within a marriage or as single parents.
"Now that we have careers, money, property, and can even raise children on our own, connecting with a partner can be all about love, and our desire to share our lives, not to prove anything or out of fear that we can't survive without it. We can simply aim to be happy and incorporate marriage into our lives as one of the elements that contributes to our overall happiness," Stanislaus said. "When you free yourself from the fear of being unmarried and the dread that it provokes, you free yourself from the unnecessary attachment to the desire. And from that comes freedom to discover who you are and who you want to be; to live your best life according to you."
"I fully support marriage," Stanislaus continued. "I just believe there are many paths we can follow to live happy and fulfilling lives."
Stanislaus also stresses that her book and her message represent a departure from other books and advice-givers that try to dictate your journey.
"We all have a multitude of people telling us what to do and how we should live our lives. I don't want to become another one of those voices. I only hope to support you as you seek to define your life according to your own values and goals. This book is about how we can move beyond expectations of who we think we need to be so that we can truly be ourselves."
Stanislaus goes on to challenge us with these words of advice: "Don't get stuck in thinking that you or your life needs to be a certain way. There is no need to walk the same road as everyone else. In fact, there are no roads if you choose to fly. So fly!"
To learn more about Heather Stanislaus and her book visit: amazon.com
Photograph and source courtesy of Heather Stanislaus
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