Collected Quotes from Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More

Images in this post may contain affiliate links which, if a purchase is made from those sites, I may earn money or products from the company.

“Living by other people’s definitions and perceptions shrinks us to shells of ourselves, rather than complex people embodying multiple identities.”
— Redefining Realness: Chapter 18 “New York, 2009” – Page 249


“I could no longer maintain the shiny, untarnished, unattainable facade of that dream girl. […] In mere moments, through the intimate act of storytelling, I’d shattered that shell and replaced it with the truth [and] for the first time in my life, I was recognized in totality. Not in spite of my experience but because of my experiences.”
— Redefining Realness: Chapter 18 “New York, 2009” – Pages 245-246


“Her apology was the start of a more honest chapter in our relationship, one where I finally began seeing her not as my mother but as a woman with her own dreams, wishes, failed expectations, and heartaches. I had faulted Mom for not living up to the image that I had projected onto her, the image of the perfect mother I felt she should’ve been for me. No one was able to live up to that ideal because that woman did not exist.”
— Redefining Realness: Part Three/ Chapter 17 – Page 239-240


“My decisions are my decisions, my choices my choices, and I must stand by the bad ones as much as I applaud my good ones. Collectively, they’re an active archive of my strength and my vulnerability.”
— Redefining Realness: Part Three/ Chapter 16 – Page 221


“When your self-identity and self-worth are tied up in how much money you can make and how many men want you, it can be scary not to rely on that identity; it can be hard to let it go and not know how to define your worth for yourself. Unlearning all I had been taught about who I was, what I could imagine for myself, what I felt was possible, and my tenets on love and sex and trust have been my biggest lessons. I’m still learning.”
— Redefining Realness: Part Three/ Chapter 15 – Page 220


“I had no villain, no one person to blame for my circumstance, so for years I blamed myself. This lack of a villain initially made it difficult for me to look at my younger self with compassion.”
— Redefining Realness: Part Three/ Chapter 15 – Page 212


“At the time, I didn’t have the capacity to care what others thought. I was going to do what I needed to do regardless of anyone’s input.”
— Redefining Realness: Part Three/ Chapter 15 – Page 211


“Kindness and compassion are sister but not twins. One you can buy, the other is priceless.”
— Redefining Realness: Part Three/ Chapter 15 – Page 207


“Our society criminalized underground economies like sex work, and deep moral biases and stigma make even the most liberal folk believe that these actions are a moral failure of the individual rather than the workings of a system.”
— Redefining Realness: Part Three/ Chapter 15 – Page 205-206


“Self-definition has been a responsibility I’ve wholeheartedly taken on as mine. It’s never a duty one should outsource [and] it’s okay if your personal definition is in a constant state of flux as you navigate the world.”
— Redefining Realness: Part Three/ Chapter 12 – Page 172


“I was ashamed to define our situation. Speaking about our experiences with poverty and homelessness would have made it too real for me. I was living it, surviving it, and had no strength to define it.”
— Redefining Realness: Part Three/ Chapter 12 – Page 167


“Becoming comfortable with your identity is step one; the next step is revealing that identity to those around you.”
— Redefining Realness: Part Three/ Chapter 11 – Page 144


“I don’t believe a single student truly understood me, but I think I projected a high level of self-confidence that made most of my classmates leave me alone.”
— Redefining Realness: Part Two/ Chapter 10 – Page 131


“In rare moments of self-reflection, when I faced no one but myself, I dropped the mask. I didn’t have the words to define what I saw or who I was, but I recognized me and often chose to dismiss her with the one question that pushed me to put the mask back on: Who will ever love you if you tell the truth?”
— Redefining Realness: Part Two/ Chapter 7 – Page 99


“My grandmother and my two aunts were an exhibition in resilience and resourcefulness and Black womanhood. They rarely talked about the unfairness of they rarely talked about the unfairness of the world with the words that I use now with my social justice friends, words like intersectionality and equality, oppression, and discrimination. They didn’t discuss those things because they were too busy living it, navigating it, surviving it.”
—           Redefining Realness: Part One/ Chapter 5 – Page 65


“My father, though he didn’t have the words, couldn’t understand why I would choose to be feminine when masculinity was privileged. What I had to negotiate at a young age was embracing who I was while rejecting whom others thought I should be.”
—           Redefining Realness: Part One/ Chapter 5 – Page 73


“I became so used to being alone and depending on myself that I didn’t know how to ask for help.”
— Redefining Realness: Part One/ Chapter 4 – Page 58


“I was prime prey. He could smell the isolation on me, and I was lured into believing the illusion that he truly saw me. I was a child, dependent, learning, unknowning, trusting, and willing to do what was asked of me to gain approval and affection.”
— Redefining Realness: Part One/ Chapter 3 – Page 47


As a survivor of sexual abuse, I developed a belief system that shaped how I viewed myself: I can gain attention through sexual acts; my worth lies in how good I can make someone else feel, even if that means I’m void of feeling; what I do in bed is shameful and secret, therefore I will remain in the dark, a constant shameful secret.”
— Redefining Realness: Part One/ Chapter 3 – Page 46-47


“I’ve heard parents say all they want is “the best” for their children, but the best is subjective and anchored by how they know and learned the world.”
—           Redefining Realness: Part One/ Chapter 2 – Page 39


“[…] I felt that nothing in a classroom could conquer or deter me except my talkative manner and undying need to be told I was exceptional.”
— Redefining Realness: Part One/ Chapter 2 – Page 37


“The crux of our conflict lay in the fact that we each couldn’t be who we wanted the other to be.”
—           Redefining Realness: Part One/ Chapter 2 – Page 31


“’Sissy’ became one of the first epithets thrown at me with regularity. My father would say ‘Stop being a sissy’ with the same ease as he’d say ‘I love you, baby!’”
—           Redefining Realness: Part One/ Chapter 2 – Page 31


“Truth or dare was more than a game; it was our way as kids to learn intimacy and trust.”
— Redefining Realness: Part One/ Chapter 1 – Page 18


“What does it mean to truly know someone, to claim that you’re ready, ready to love a human being, not just a sketch of all your fantasies come to life?”
— Redefining Realness: “New York, 2009” – Page 9


“I’m most comfortable in relationships, but they distract me from myself.”
—Redefining Realness: “New York, 2009” – Page 7 (Spoken by Aaron)


“I didn’t know how to be truly happy. I had to cope with it by dismissing it, by forecasting its inevitable end. My belief system operated on the notion that the good things in my life were a universal hiccup where doom surely loomed. Happiness was fleeting and accidental; goodness wasn’t in the cards for a girl like me.”
— Redefining Realness: “New York, 2009” – Page 6


“[…] I struggle with being held up as the one who “made it,” as an exception to the rule. For years, exceptionalism was a bandage I proudly wore to make me feel worthy. I felt validated when people stated that I was ‘exceptional’ or ‘unique’ or that I was not the norm. Basking in these proclamations, I soon realized something was amiss: If I’m the exception, the so-called standard of success, then where does that leave the sisters I grew up with on the streets of Honolulu who didn’t ‘make it?’”

— Redefining Realness: Page XVI-XVII


“I know intimately what it feels like to crave representation and validation, to see your life reflected in someone who speaks deeply to whom you know yourself to be, echoes your reality, and instills you with possibility.”
— Redefining Realness – Page XVI


“I remained silent because I was taught to believe that my silence would protect me, cradle me, enable me to have access, excel, and build a life for myself. My silence and my accomplishments would help me navigate the world without others’ judgements and would separate me from the stereotypes and stigma.”
— Redefining Realness – Page XV

Questions, Comments, or Opposing Opinion?