Sasha DiGiulian, one of the top rock climbers in the world, not only holds impressive rock-climbing titles but has paved the way for goal-driven women all over the world.
At just six years of age, DiGiulian entered the world of rock climbing and never looked back. A year later, at seven years of age, the professional rock climber entered her first competition and went on to win her first international junior championship at only eleven years old.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, DiGiulian climbed on to be a multi-time Adult National Champion (Female), Pan-American Champion, and Female Overall World Champion.
And all while setting records and inspiring millions, DiGiulian faced many challenges; some called for hanging on, and some for letting go.
While faced with a double hip replacement at the age of 30, the resilient rock climber took that downtime to write her new book. Take The Lead: Hanging On, Letting Go, and Conquering Life’s Hardest Climbs where she shares the highs and lows of both climbing and life.
Mountain-Sized Adversity Doesn’t Stand in the Way of Persistence
DiGiulian grew up in a city and in a family that didn’t know that climbing was a sport. Through a local climbing gym, Sportrock, she got involved with first the competition side of rock climbing, and then the outdoors side of that community. And although a rock-climbing star was born, the process wasn’t as easy as you may think.
“As a young female, I faced the scrutiny of not “looking the part” of whatever historically climbers were thought to ‘look like.’ I embraced my femininity. I wore pink. I was earnest and honest and broke barriers within my sport for women by the time I was a teenager,” recalls DiGiulian.
“This did ruffle the feathers of mostly men who for whatever reason felt insecure by the fact that a woman could be doing this.” Sadly, DiGiulian dealt with harassment online — people questioning her success, creating baseless rumors attributing her success, to other factors like the way she looked.
“As I grew within my success, this heightened the number of trolls that I had to learn to ignore.” This taught DiGiulian when to use her voice and when to stand up for herself. “I am proud of these moments; I have been hurt, even by an individual that I considered a colleague within my sport; For a decade of bullying online and offline, I have found my voice through this,” DiGiulian says.
After facing these mountains of adversity, DiGiulian says she is strong in who she is and is very proud of her climbing community. “At the end of the day, integrity and knowing who you are and what you stand for is essential; showing up, putting in the work, and rising above the fracas.”
DiGiulian hopes her career will inspire other young girls and women to not feel like they need to ‘be small,’ or cave into the judgment of others.
With that thought, DiGiulian then went on to found a female-focused organization for women who are looking to beat the odds and follow through with their goals, no matter the doubts or doubters.
Female-Focused Adventures Changed the Narrative
Turning a negative into a positive, DiGiulian founded Female Focused Adventures because she wanted to be in charge of her own narrative, as well as be able to support and tell the stories of other women doing incredible things in the outdoor spaces.
“I want to be able to build more of a voice for women in outdoor sports. FFA is young and not yet at that stage of being a platform to finance these stories yet—but I am eager to grow it and be able to take more of a role in the creative process than the role in front of the camera.”
(If you’re interested in supporting this organization or, have a story that you think is worth sharing that needs help finding its legs, reach out to DiGiulian through her website).
DiGiulian’s Tips to Help You Take the Lead in Your Journey
· Find your community: The people that you let into your life, that you trust, and respect, and that have your back and that you have theirs.
- Listen to others: Formulate your opinion based on your experience and knowledge.
- Be open to others’ opinions: Be strong enough to understand your own.
- Be open to constructive criticism: And be willing to grow from it. Identify what you stand for—what your morals are and be stalwart in respecting and living by these.
- Know that there will likely be people to question you along your way: Try to bring you down—try to make you feel like you don’t deserve the success you achieve—but use this as the fire to your work ethic, and keep charging on in your lane.
- Last but not least: Stay in your lane and focus on what you can control.
Stories like DiGiulian’s remind us that success doesn’t happen overnight and there are many bumps along the way. If you have a goal in mind, no matter how big, keep climbing and eventually, you’ll find yourself on top.