Janet Mock's Surprising Advice On Cultivating Confidence

Bow down.

Bow down.

The esteemed media personality and activist shares her realest advice on staying true to yourself, pursuing the career of your dreams, and how to live up to your claims of being an ally.

With the high-powered media career Janet Mock has cultivated for herself, the openness with which she's shared her personal experiences as a trans woman, and the space she's made for marginalized communities—her work has struck such a resonant chord that it's difficult to imagine there aren't legions of Hollywood types already knocking her door down.

Born in Hawaii—"I'm the second-most famous person to come from there, after President Obama," she quips on the newest episode of Girlboss Radio—Mock was raised primarily by her single working mom. She credits her family's acceptance and native Hawaiian culture with allowing her to own her identity as a trans woman at the age of 13.

Mock eventually left the island for New York, in order to pursue a career in journalism, where she landed a job reporting on celebrity culture for People.com. But it was years later before she finally realized the importance of sharing her story, and allowing other young trans women to see themselves represented in the media.

Her first book, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, came out in 2014 and went on to become a New York Times Bestseller. Her second, Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me takes a deep dive into the career-building phase of her twenties, moving from her time working as a stripper to becoming the esteemed media figure she is today.

Below, catch some of the best quotes from her interview with Sophia on the latest episode of Girlboss Radio, which you can listen to in its entirety below:

On why she chose to leave Hawaii to pursue her dreams of being a journalist:

“LA and New York are full of people from tiny towns, who are too big for the little spaces they came from. And they want to be smaller fishes in bigger ponds. Be focused on what you want to do, and be open enough to improvise and figure out those weird connections that can open up different doors for you.”

On the current state of American culture and its acceptance of trans people, and why she feels lucky to have grown up in Hawaii:

“We’re getting to a space where at least there is an acknowledgement of the existence of trans people. Indigenous cultures tend to have a longer framework of knowing that there is diversity of gender and diversity of sexuality, whereas a lot of Western, gender-binary spaces are a bit more reluctant.”

On paying attention to your financial future:

“Fully invest in that 401K, girls. Fully invest in that 401K. Don’t play around.” 

On why she pursued a career that eventually came to focus on trans-rights activism:

“As someone who grew up as a trans teenager, I felt I had a way to tell [other young trans people] there is success. There is something on the other side if you can make it through, if you can find your people, if you can deal with some bullshit for a little while.”

And here she is keeping it super real about how you get to a place of confidence and speaking out:

“For me, the way I got to being confident and assured has always been ensuring I have spaces where I didn’t have to perform. Spaces in which I can be problematic in closer circles of friends who don’t expect me to perform, who are completely fine with me showing up empty, with nothing to give.”

On what the trans community and other marginalized populations need from allies right now:

“Right now what we need is more comrades. More people who are moved away from complacency—people who are moved to actually show up for people who are not like them. To move outside of themselves and to move.”

On what the word “success” means to her:

“To me, success is doing what you absolutely love, driven by your own sense of purpose, without having to compromise your principles. It’s being able to show up fully as you are in those spaces.”

Girlboss Radio debuts a new episode every Wednesday, at midnight PDT. Tune in!

Words: Deena Drewis
Photo: Maggie Renshaw / Composite