Surpassing Certainty (What My Twenties Taught Me): Part 1/ Chapters 6 to 8 – Summary/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Janet Mock: Surpassing Certainty - What My Twenties Taught Me Book Cover

It seems to be the beginning of the end for Troy and Janet. Especially as she comes to terms with the idea that he isn’t a final destination but a retreat. One which allows her to recover from the various pains life has thrown at her. Yet, not a place she can see herself permanently staying.

Chapter Summaries (with Commentary)

Chapter 6: Freedom is But an Extended Chain

After the whole Eva phone call, Janet takes some liberties. The people she was just flirting with before, she allows anything from making out, to dry humping, and even has sex with Jared [note]Who had a girlfriend at the time but Janet got caught in a moment.[/note]. Yet, this isn’t out of revenge. More so, thanks to Troy, Janet has this new confidence. Not just in her body but also in her desirability. So even with Jared confirming how the guys talk about her in the locker room, there comes some surprise. A pleasant one of course.

However, old issues never seem to stray as a person is trying to move on. For one, at this point, Janet hasn’t seen her dad since she was 12. Also, he is seldom, if ever, mentioned after this chapter. But, the real old issue here is someone taking advantage of Janet. In this case, Anthony, a basketball player, raping Janet. All because, in his mind, her coming over was all the consent he needed.

Chapter 7: Another Nail In The Coffin

Janet, especially after Anthony raping her, returns to Troy in order to heal. For while she may note in chapter 6 that a person can’t, or perhaps shouldn’t, seek to heal through another, Troy is always there. His availability, in a way, became a crutch. One which allowed her to return to some semblance of herself and make it so, when she recovered, she was able to focus back on who she needed to be – nonstop.

But, with leaning so much on Troy came a caveat. She felt the need to accept his proposal and marry him. Something which wasn’t seemingly done out of love but lack of options. A problem which comes up consistently for the rest of the book until Aaron comes around. Her being with Troy or getting back with him is because of this feeling that, as a trans woman, she is so lucky to have someone at all. If not, she won’t find better for it doesn’t exist. Not to forget, her pursuit of it possibly being dangerous.

However, her crutch is with cracks. For while the Eva thing may have been noted as nothing, it is clear something is up with Troy. Something Janet doesn’t expose to us since all she has is her point of view. There isn’t anything detailing how Troy felt but just assumptions. So as he gets mad about not getting to spend time with his boys, when he visits Hawaii from California, it is hard to get to the root of the issue.

Well, outside of Janet noting how Troy never had to pursue a woman before. Making it seem he isn’t used to really working for a relationship. So trying to maintain one, much less a marriage, is a new and difficult challenge.

Chapter 8: A New Safe Place

Things seem damn near over for Janet and Troy. After an acquaintance plants the seed of grad school and the idea gets watered, Janet starts making plans and moves. All of which have no input from Troy at all. Making her deciding to go to NYU, across the country from his base in California, beyond a red flag. Like the smack Janet delivers when she sees condoms under his bed, it is a smack to the face.

Yet, with him, Troy, noting he isn’t sure why he is trying anymore, a lot becomes clear. In Janet’s own words, she didn’t see Troy as her final destination. She was still searching. At this point, he became a quick pick me up. Someone reliable but not for the long term. Hence why they shared moments but not really a life.

But when someone like that gets downgraded, it still hurts. Luckily, a young woman named Keiko becomes someone Janet can rely on. Even feel safe enough around to reveal she is trans too. Which Keiko doesn’t care, for it isn’t like she is trying to sleep with Janet, but she appreciates being told.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. So Janet’s dad wasn’t talking to her, asking about her, or anything over this whole period?
  2. In the book, there are a lot of named dropped, many omitted in this recap since they aren’t mentioned again. I wonder what happened to them all?

 

Collected Quote(s)

Just as quickly as someone enters, they can leave. People make mistakes. They disappoint. And you’re left with yourself. Being alone is unbearable when you’ve enjoyed a reprieve with togetherness. I believed in the power of companionship. What I did not know then was that no one can heal you. You must learn to be your own company, your own cure. You cannot retreat into someone else for fulfillment.

—           “Part 1/ Chapter 6.″ Surpassing Certainty


I wished I could reach for next-level spiritual goals, like being ‘able to be alone, to find it nourishing—not just a waiting.

—           “Part 1/ Chapter 6.″ Surpassing Certainty


I missed being with people whom I shared continuity. But I think we all crave those spaces, the ones where shared history acts as a thread holding us accountable to our former selves and to one another.

—           “Part 1/ Chapter 6.″ Surpassing Certainty


The prelude to sex was always more fun than actual penetration.

—           “Part 1/ Chapter 6.″ Surpassing Certainty


We have continuity in our bodies, which hold experiences that never leave us, experiences our bodies conceal so we can keep going. They hold tightly to them—until we have confidence to trust our bodies again, to loosen their grasp.

—           “Part 1/ Chapter 7.″ Surpassing Certainty


I wanted to be heard, but I also wanted someone, anyone, to hurt as much as I was hurting. I aimed to control him because I did not have control over anything else.

—           “Part 1/ Chapter 7.″ Surpassing Certainty


I was my best in words—clear and secure in what I felt, what I believed, who I was.

—           “Part 1/ Chapter 7.″ Surpassing Certainty


I suffered from imposter’s syndrome, not truly believing I was as smart as my grades, not as shiny as the awards I was given.

—           “Part 1/ Chapter 8.″ Surpassing Certainty


I yearned to be accepted on merit, on my work. I didn’t want to be a charity case, someone who was let in because she had a compelling story. I didn’t want to be someone who was brought in at the service of diversity alone, seen merely as a token.

—           “Part 1/ Chapter 8.″ Surpassing Certainty

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