REVELATIONS OF A SINGLE WOMAN: Loving the Life I Didn't Expect
Here's a book that is titled and packaged well. A book that invites you to walk in and read. Walk in? Well, yes, the prominent graphic is shoes --- party shoes on the cover, and a different illustrative pair setting up the theme of each of 20 chapters.
Connally Gilliam is in her late 30s, currently a "faith-based life coach" for single women a decade younger than she. This wasn't the career she had in mind. Her career path? "Its diversity and, I prefer to think, creative path could make one's head spin." With a bachelor's and then a master's and more, she taught high school, was an administrative assistant, worked in retail and at a think tank. Not that a career was something she'd ever planned on managing. Marriage and motherhood was the life goal.
Early in the book Gilliam analyzes what went awry. If she's not married, is it because she's a dork? (Said chapter is illustrated with out-of-fashion sneakers.) No. "Sometimes," she realizes, "life simply is not fair."
One of the more interesting chapters is titled "Our Many Selves" and lays out the realities of "feeling scattered" among the many roles one plays. "Have you ever felt as if you were many selves --- and each is you but none of them is fully you? And have you ever yearned for those many parts to come together somehow, somewhere, with someone?" That theme --- wanting to find the someone --- pervades much of the book.
Though there is little discussion of dating per se (such an old-fashioned word), Gilliam often brings the discussion around to interpersonal, gender-based dynamics, whether romantic or platonic, including relationships in the workplace, with husbands of girlfriends, or even brothers. She's not afraid to address the topic of sexual intimacies or their lack. Some readers will think her opinions too narrow; others, too expansive.
About 20 years ago I wrote a book in some ways similar to Gilliam's but for the baby-boomer generation (titled LEAVING HOME). In some ways the landscape has changed dramatically. Most single women I knew lived alone, a challenge different from Gilliam's life with housemates. We were trying to claim new ground in the workplace --- ground in which young women now have room to roam.
In some ways nothing has changed at all. The process of finding your place in the world while being unintentionally untethered, loosening your grip on unrealized dreams while holding onto your faith, sorting out your relationship with your birth family, finding contentment even while feeling never quite "home" --- Gilliam has masterfully articulated the universal journey for a new generation.
With vulnerability, Gilliam tells her own story in each chapter, but she also draws in comments of other women and then turns to analysis and light-handed personal and spiritual advice. There's plenty of food for thought or discussion here for young single women and those who love them.
--- Reviewed by Evelyn Bence
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