When I was 6 years old, I was running around in Central Park and saw some climbers on a huge boulder. I tried to scramble up the rock myself but couldn't, so every day afterward, I begged my dad to take me back after school. For some reason I was motivated to conquer that rock. I just kept hopping back up and trying again, and again and again.

I entered my first climbing competition at 7 and won the whole female category. Since then, I've faced much harder climbs: I'm 15 now and still the only woman to accomplish a V15, the third-highest difficulty grade in climbing. Most of my friends are more interested in shopping than scaling mountains, but I train about five days a week. On school breaks, I'll travel to places like Japan, Thailand or South Africa to climb. I'm actually better known in Asia than in the U.S. When I go to a climbing gym, people will mob the place to take pictures.

On YouTube or Facebook, some commenters say I'm only successful because I'm light and have small fingers. Or that since I come from an Asian family, I must have strict parents who are forcing me to compete. They assume that I don't love it, that I'll burn out. None of that's true. The more daring your accomplishments, the more people will doubt you. But when you continually break down barriers, they begin to believe. And then they become inspired by you.

Want more stories like this delivered to your inbox? Sign up for the Live Your Best Life newsletter!


Next Story