Thursday, 17 August 2017

From Bullying to Barbells by Jess Silver

Everyone’s personalities are unique; they are what set us apart from the millions of people we are with every day. Your character is what controls your response to a situation. 

For Jess Silver, being driven and discovering things have always been an important part of who she is. She was never isolated as a child. She didn’t like to be separated from or treated differently by others, even though she has cerebral palsy. Jess never let having a disability that affects her physically stop her and was always encouraged by her friends and family to do all that she wanted to. This translated into her passion for sports and love for athletes who continually train harder to achieve more athletically. 

Jess encountered many levels of adversity while carrying out everyday responsibilities. Not being able to do "ordinary tasks" lead to physical bullying, alienation, taunting and cyberbullying. Building from the hardship she experienced, she strove to develop coping strategies and pursue hobbies that allowed her to develop strength, a sense of personal direction, passion and a character which consistently defies limits. 

How can one defy limits if there are so many obstacles that are both visible and internally endured by a person with a disability? 

That’s where sports enter into Jess’ life. Watching them as a kid first gave her this feeling of wonder that has now turned to aspiration to be just like those athletes. She craved a time when she could feel free of stigma, of feeling different, of being hurt and bullied. As a kid that freedom came from playing soccer with her classmates, and by going swimming. Later it transformed into a full-time commitment to fitness and mind and body wellness, which she relates to as an athlete’s journey in professional training. 

“Working out and consistently trying to improve my physical abilities, went from being something I had to do every day, to something I crave and want to consistently make more engaging for myself, every day. It’s unbelievable how sometimes a shift occurs in our lives around our circumstances we can’t quickly change. I was transformed the day I realized that my physical adversity makes me stronger because I used it to challenge myself to work more often in the gym and work harder. 

Seeing the rings, the barbell and knowing that I am capable of increasing reps (amount of times I do an exercise with or without weights), releases my negative emotions and allows me to continually reframe my mindset.” 

Adversity was there for Jess as a child and adolescent, but through the pursuit of activities like training in the gym, it has a newfound purpose. Today many obstacles give Jess adrenaline to discover new possibilities related to physical fitness and functional training. Driven from her past experiences, Jess has become a medical writer and an adversity management coach. She is consistently driven to finding new research, developing strategies, protocols and education to provide new insight into perceptions and ways that things are practiced relating to sport and medicine. 

“A barbell is driven up by gravity and force. We must drive our potential by the recognition firstly to want to create change, followed by effort to make it happen.”