Stitch Fashion

Faces of Wellness

Stitch Fashion
Faces of Wellness

By Emily Wang

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ZACH SCHROEDER
Year: Senior
Major: Theatre & Psychology
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota

What is your favorite “feel-good” outfit?

Farming overalls paired with a long knee-length shirt with the same pattern as the seats in a Megabus: the 1994 Windows screensaver look

When you have a really bad day, what are some things you do to cope?

Reaching out to people — human connection is the thing that will make you feel less like garbage. It is important to be brave enough to reach out and ask for someone to listen.

What are some of the things you've learned over your journey with wellness?

The stigma around mental health is very persistent. We live in a society that is built around the dichotomy between “diagnosed crazies” and people who are “fine.” However, mental health is not just for people who are mentally ill. Therapy is like going to the gym—the gym is not just for people who need to lose weight and therapy is not just for people who are diagnosably mentally ill.

How has your perception of wellness changed over the years?

My tagline is that “everybody is valid, everyone’s emotional experiences are valid, if someone is suffering it does not mean no one else in the world is suffering.” Playing the game of “I am suffering more than you,” makes everyone feels worse and less connected. You are having your experience, I am having my experience, our experiences are connected because we’re friends, and that’s fine.

How has Northwestern affected your wellness?

The theatre world is explicit in ranking and it forces theatre majors to address the fact that you are competing for things. Northwestern can feel Game of Thrones-y, but someone else achieving a victory does not mean you are losing out. It is more like Scooby Doo chase sequences. Doors are always opening and closing.

 

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HANNAH DION-KIRSCHNER
Year: Senior
Major: Horn Performance & Environmental Science, Earth Science minor
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

What is your favorite “feel-good” outfit?

Fuzzy plush leggings for a long day—pants that will make me feel like I’m in bed.

When you have a really bad day, what are some things you do to cope?

Reaching out to people like my best friends, boyfriend or sister. But sometimes I just need a hug or some alone time.

What is your personal journey with wellness?

In high school, I never pushed myself too hard and never addressed the need for wellness. Fall of sophomore year, I got burnout from trying to get A’s and I was overexerted and overcommitted. I felt guilty when I was not being productive because free time had to be spent on practicing or studying. However, that type of thinking is harmful mentally, emotionally, academically and musically. Now, I am deliberately aware of feelings. I check up with myself and practice not pushing feelings down.

What are some of the things you have learned over your journey with wellness?

I have learned to focus on gradual improvement as opposed to overall result. I have learned to practice the same compassion with myself as I do with others, to not beat myself up, be overly harsh or demanding of myself, or have judgmental feelings towards myself. Having a support system is so important, just as it’s important to be open. Don’t feel like a burden to others when opening up.

 

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CHRISTOPHER MAYORGA
Year: Sophomore
Major: Learning Sciences & Latina/o Studies
Hometown: Worthington, Minnesota

What is your personal journey with wellness?

In high school, the overall stress led to a rift in mental health, so I had to take a break and assess what I was doing. I ended up going to professional therapy and had to think about things I really wanted to prioritize. In college, I had tools to work with and I continued to apply them to myself, but I also realized that there is a need for a campus-wide or club-wide way to address these topics. As the wellness chair of QUEST (Questbridge Scholars Network), I try to encourage a dialogue about wellness and be a resource for stress or mental health related information.

What is wellness to you?

Wellness is something that you do everyday and it is personal, like making sure I’m paying attention to myself and taking care of myself. It is also social, in asking people how they are doing in a genuine way and making sure to follow up the conversation.

How has NU affected your wellness?

I read a New York Times article about social isolation, which I found relates to Northwestern. We find ourselves being around people somehow, but it’s not the same as actually getting support. Isolation is the red light of someone’s wellness—the longer the isolation is, the harder it is to come out. It’s important to open up to others while supporting the people around us.

 

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KIMANI BREANA ISAAC
Year: Sophomore
Major: Undecided
Hometown: New York, NY

What is your favorite “feel-good” outfit?

I wear comfy sweaters that I look good in. I love jewelry so I try to wear that a ton as a quick pick-me-up. I do my eyeliner and curl my lashes and wear mascara if I am really trying to feel put together. And I love boots! I love combat boots. I feel kickass in them.

What are some of the things you've learned over your journey with wellness?

Listen to my body when it tells me enough is enough. I know where my wall of “I cannot get any more work done tonight” is.

What is wellness to you?

Wellness is feeling good. It is feeling rested, at peace, confident and satisfied.

How has your perception of wellness changed over the years?

I guess I used to think wellness was simply living a life I enjoyed. Now it is making time for myself and my body to get what it needs while I live an enjoyable life. I like to be busy, but I go overboard very easily. I am trying to learn to manage my impulses.

What would you tell yourself during a time when you were struggling?

Write it out. Archive the pain in some work of art and then get some sleep if you are tired. Talk it over with a friend. You do not deserve to feel like crap.

How has Northwestern affected your wellness?

In some respects it has made me busier. However, my sleep schedule being all over the place is nothing new to me. It is more that now I just have a clear picture of how badly I need to get my sleep.

 

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SERI LEE
Year: Sophomore
Major: Global History & Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies, Spanish minor
Hometown: Chicago suburbs

What is your favorite “feel-good” outfit?

I think fashion is and should be more acknowledged as a legitimate practice of wellness. Fashion is perceived as frivolous and superficial, but I see it as radical. I perform a lot of my queerness through the things I wear and it makes me feel full, especially when I get compliments about my ‘fit. I really feel like myself when I am the perfect balance between masculine and femme but still in a way that makes me feel comfortable.

What are some of the things you have learned over your journey with wellness?

Vulnerability and self-reflection are so important. Opening yourself up to the people close to you is really scary—and laying yourself bare to your own self is scarier tenfold. Learning how to sit down in a silent room with me and my thoughts, thinking about why I am where I am emotionally and mentally, and deconstructing my insecurities, anxieties and fears were really valuable to me. Realizing I am queer last year definitely helped me to feel more comfortable in my body and I do not think that would have happened had I not sat down with myself and unpacked who I was.

What is wellness to you?

It is an ongoing practice. I schedule every hour of my day, but I make sure I set aside a few hours when I can decompress and practice self-care. At the same time, I am also responsive to my personal needs. If that means I go to sleep at 8 PM and do all my work in the morning, then I do that.

How has your perception of wellness changed over the years?

Self-care, especially when you’re a person of color and/or queer, is radical! Valuing and prioritizing all aspects of health—physical, emotional, and mental—is really important.

 

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REBECCA LAZER
Year: Senior
Major: Political Science & Global Health Studies
Hometown: Pennington, NJ

What is your favorite “feel-good” outfit?

When I am having a bad day, I typically put more time and effort into my hair and makeup because it helps me to take time to think about myself. The process of putting on make up helps me because I try to be mindful not to let the stress of a bad day weigh on me while I am doing it.

What are some of the things you have learned over your journey with wellness?

It is okay to put yourself first. I feel like a lot of the time we encourage people to be everything for everyone else. I feel like being okay is almost a prerequisite to function in other areas of your life.

What is wellness to you?

This sounds a little corny, but I honestly see wellness as a way of life. It is a goal which I use to orient my actions and behaviors, something to keep me moving forward. It is so much more than being “healthy” physically, mentally, socially etc. It is really the intersection of all areas of life and how effectively these areas work together. I never really think of myself as well or unwell, but I can act positively towards my wellness. It is a state that is constantly changing and there is no universal right or wrong. I think it is really important for students at Northwestern to ask themselves this question and feel empowered to define wellness for themselves. It really does look different for everyone in my experience.

What would you tell yourself during a time when you were struggling?

I try to adopt a non-judgemental attitude where I can recognize what I am feeling, but do not judge myself for feeling it. It is when you focus on feelings and emotions that they turn into moods, so accepting them without holding onto them has been super helpful for me. I tell myself to “ride the wave” and try to validate my own feelings and emotions through the recognition.

 

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ZHESI ZHUANG
Year: Freshman
Major: Communication Studies & Biology
Hometown: Orange County, CA

What is your favorite “feel-good” outfit?

I have a signature hairstyle that looks like a bean sprout (it is a little ponytail really high on my head) that I wear when I feel lazy and it makes me feel better.

What are some of the things you have learned over your journey with wellness?

A lot of things are outside of my control. If I dwell on it too much, I get more frustrated and feel more powerless. Life keeps going.

What is wellness to you?

It is an amalgamation of different things, from spiritual to mental to physical to emotional. I cannot have only one type of wellness; instead, I try to get all of them.

How has your perception of wellness changed over the years?

I have learned to focus on myself. Two years ago I started to practice meditation and mindfulness, and through that I have understood that a big part of wellness is giving time to myself.

What would you tell yourself during a time when you were struggling?

What you do at the moment, like competition results, do not define your self worth. Do not let those objects, those intangible things define you.

How has Northwestern affected your wellness?

I have gotten comfortable with being told “no.” In the past, everything worked out, so when I came into this new environment I wanted to try new things and be confident. However, I got rejected from a lot of clubs, but I realized that the rejections do not take away from my self worth. Little things are just little things. In the end, these rejections made me stronger.