Safe at Home: Criterion editor Gabby Petruzzello reflects on life during quarantine 


Gabby Petruzzello, Criterion Editor

“Lean into joy and seek social connection, as it is scientifically proven to make you happier.” 

This time of quarantine has been a test of my resilience and my belief in our country. 

It has taken away not only the important celebrations of my senior year like my Herb Kohl Scholarship luncheon, the YWCA Women of Distinction event, my graduation, and my celebration of academic success as one of Craig’s two valedictorians. 

It has also robbed me of the little moments.

I miss being in my newspaper class, laughing with everyone and eating delicious treats every Wednesday. 

I miss going out to lunch with my friends. I miss being able to run with my team, even if I still ran by myself. 

I miss being able to see my grandparents. I miss going into school early and bothering Mr. Miller with psychology questions. 

I miss being able to catch up with all of my teachers (especially being a teacher’s pet).  🙂 

Many of us are feeling hopeless and grieving the loss of normal. 

We spend our time not appreciating the great moments that we have. We assume that this will ease the pain of losing them, but it doesn’t. 

We still end up feeling disappointed and sad.

These feelings are understandable, according to social worker, author, and podcaster Brene Brown. 

She explains that we live in a culture marked by scarcity.

The major thing lost by those in a scarcity culture is vulnerability. This is the birthplace of joy, creativity, and all that we long for.

In the current crisis, many of us have shut ourselves off to the world, afraid to be seen as weak or scared, but I have news for you: Everyone is frazzled by this.

For me, it’s definitely been a struggle. My only real activity is my daily runs. 

I am restless and can’t sit still and focus for long periods of time, even though I try to force myself to. I can’t sit at a desk for hours without wanting to move, so I end up sitting in the same comfy chair for days on end. 

Even at school, I would constantly find ways to keep busy. During this time in quarantine, I have piled even more on my plate since I have “more time.” 

My anxiety to be productive stems from my Type A personality. I can’t separate relaxation from productivity. 

I work from seven in the morning to seven at night some days, working on schoolwork, AP prep, and other self-improvement classes. 

It is as if I have to prove that I can succeed even though no one is watching. 

Honestly, it’s a little overwhelming when all I really want to do is lay in a ball on the couch binging Netflix. 

I’ve lost my semesters of transition before college, so I feel completely unprepared.

If this crisis has one silver lining, it is that it has taught me to embrace the little moments I used to take for granted. 

One day those moments will return. In the meantime, my family and I are trying to do our part to slow the spread of this disease.

My parents are essential workers. Both wear masks and wash them daily. 

Our routines have changed. We order groceries online and someone puts them in our trunk so we don’t have to be near others in the store. 

My neighbors can’t see their grandchildren because they do not want to infect them. They have to talk to them far away or on the phone. 

Even for birthday celebrations, they use signs to communicate their love. 

But not everyone is taking this pandemic seriously, and it disheartens me. 

I see my neighbors having a bonfire or having their grandparents come over to visit the kids, and I worry. 

We may not know thousands of people affected by the virus, but the threat is real. 

Life is tough and seeing the federal government’s slow response frustrates me, as every American has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Just remember that when this is over, try to appreciate the little things. Lean into joy and seek social connection, as it is scientifically proven to make you happier. Give yourself some self-compassion during this difficult time and make sure to connect with those you care about and tell them. 

We are all in this together.