We are all guilty of it! Judgment is something that is all around us and with the immense pressure from our peers, society, and the media to be “perfect” and to “fit in” it creates a culture around critiquing those that think, act or look different to what is seen as “acceptable”.

The more we judge people the worse it gets and eventually, our minds are filled with little voices screaming nasty words about everyone around us.

This is such a vicious cycle that starts with us looking at others but eventually we become so aware of our own harsh thoughts that we become paranoid of what people must think of us.

One of the first steps in learning to accept ourselves is actually to accept the people around us as they are and not how we would like them to be. To become compassionate towards others and take a new stance of kindness and acceptance.


We all have a moment in life when it all feels like it’s too much and no matter how hard we try we cannot seem to rise above adversity.

By learning how to dig deep and embrace our inner strength helps us shift our focus from the noise around us to what is important.

Being resilient and getting up over and over is all about knowing how to obtain an optimistic attitude. It’s about not getting stuck in the tough times but rather looking forward to the great things to come as well as setting goals and planning how to achieve them.

While we may not be able to change our situation we can change our outlook. We can learn to embrace the hand we are given and manipulate it to work in our favour


When we are young, we feel pressure to become someone and fit in.
How do we become our own person while there are so many pressures and not fall into the expectations of society?

We need to be confident, positive, have a strong belief in self and have direction on where we want to go, rather than follow in someone else’s footsteps.
I am passionate about individuality and sharing my story to inspire authenticity.


Teens are at such a vulnerable age; between school, their peers, and the media throwing images of what’s “perfect” and “acceptable. It’s far too easy to lose sight of yourself and ignore your values for the sake of “fitting in.”

I have designed these ‘Teen Talks’ to address the stresses they are facing and teach them new ways and mindsets to combat these pressures while remaining true to one’s self.


Jess leaves you walking away inspired to do more, be more, and give more

“Despite having faced severe adversity through life-threatening illness multiple times throughout her young life, Jess possesses a wisdom, maturity and inspiration well beyond her years. Jess exudes radiance, confidence, kindness and the kind of genuine optimism that lets you know you have the power to completely change not only your life but the power to change the world. An everyday, ‘normal’ conversation with Jess leaves you walking away inspired to do more, be more and give more. She is simply a phenomenal young woman!”

Sara Williams, Communications Manager, Sony Foundation


Jess immediately engaged the group with her powerful and inspiring story

“Jess was our headline speaker at em<strong>power</strong>me 2017. Speaking to a group of 16-22 year olds, Jess immediately engaged the group with her powerful and inspiring story. What makes Jess so captivating is her warm personality and enthusiastic delivery of her message: powerfully positive, ridiculously resilient. Jess is also really experienced in goal setting which the group found really beneficial to round out their day.
I would highly recommend Jess to speak at your next event. She is a beautiful person with a moving story that everyone should have the privilege to hear. Thank you again for sharing your story with us Jess, we look forward to celebrating more of your achievements in the near future!”

Rachel Galik, empowerment leader, Lord Somers Camp and Power House


The power of resilience and of positive thinking

“Jess presented to Frankton High School Year 12 students about the power of resilience and of positive thinking. As both a past student and as a young person, her story of overcoming her own obstacles in life resonated with our students deeply. Jess speaks with passion and enthusiasm about goal setting, achieving your dreams and not letting anything stand in your way.”

Clare Challenger, Frankston High School


Jess encouraged us to view adversity with a positive perspective

“Jess came to speak to us at the Evans & Partners Reality Channel Women’s Network as part of our theme for encouraging and promoting bravery, determination and resilience. We could not have had a more amazing and inspiring person to demonstrate these qualities to us than Jess Van Zeil. She encouraged us to view adversity with a positive perspective, demonstrating to us how she does this and giving us methods to achieve it ourselves.

Jess presented very professionally and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. It is a fantastic reminder that through adversity we can apply a positive mindset to help us come out on top. Jess is a truly brilliant living example of this and I was so grateful she came to share her experiences and her knowledge with us. Highly recommended guest speaker.”

Emma Negri, Manager, Evans & Partners Reality Channel Network


Jess is professional, reliable, and charismatic

Jess Van Zeil is an inspiring young speaker who we were lucky to have as a panel member at the Victorian Government’s inaugural Youth Summit, to discuss the theme of ‘effecting change’. Jess is professional, reliable, and charismatic; her powerful message of overcoming adversity resonated with the audience of over 400 young people and youth sector professionals alike.
Jess has an amazing ability to connect with many people at the same time enabling them to reflect on their own strengths and embark on a journey of transformation. Jess inspired resilience, positivity, and humility through her participation, and was an absolute pleasure to work with. Thank you, Jess, for sharing your story and contributing to the success of our event.

Jill McCabe, Assistant Director, Office for Youth, Department of Health and Human Services