VIA : ” I grew up in Hollis and Jamaica, Queens. I grew up as the only Asian kid in an all-black neighborhood. They were some of my favorite memories. I was really aware and like, “Oh. There is just one of me here.” I was also like short, chubby, and queer and maybe trans at that time. It really shaped social awareness and awareness of my environment. There was a really strong hip-hop culture around me. My cousins and I were punk rock kids. We were the only Filipino kids just skateboarding around and listening to Blink 182…(laughs) .. just being those people. Nobody really bothered us.
Right after college, I worked in South Africa. It was a weird time of not being sure of what I wanted to do with my life. So I went on this one-week adventure where I planned to do things to test myself. In this one week I rock climbed, I went sky diving, I went shark cage diving, I bungee jumped, and I hiked up this mountain. It helped a lot in terms of letting myself know that I can do things if I put my mind to it. When I got back I was like this (rock climbing) makes me happy. I like the mental challenge of rock climbing, people think it’s just strength, but it’s really you against yourself. It’s like, do I want to take this risk and reach for this hold? Do I want to make this move? It’s all in your mind. Really focusing on that really helped me in my life’s next steps and whatever I wanted to do next.
More Self-awareness has come with climbing too. You have to be aware of who you are on the wall, what your body is capable and is not capable of, and balance out your risks and what you are willing to do within a really short amount of time. Your body can only take you so far because if you know your muscle is going to burn
It’s made me really self-aware. I am able to ask myself who am I in this space? What can I do? What can’t I do? What control do I have and what is out of my control here right now? ”