This is Us!

We are here to bring you our life through food. Especially Italian food. You can learn more about us here.

« Zaza's First Book Signing | Main | Eat Like a Iaciofano — Toby »

Fearful Pizza, Midnight Snacks and Emotional Indigestion

That's quite a title, isn't it? With an intro like that, you can't afford NOT to read this post. Am I right?

Well, that seems to be the problem, doesn't it?

A lot of things have been happening in Elana-land. A lot of change. And with change comes uncertainty, midnight snacking and emotional indigestion. Usually EI is brought on by three factors: anxiety, stress and FEAR.

On one such anxious, stressful and fearful day not so long ago, I just couldn't eat. Because of that, I woke up in the middle of the night starving. So I snuck downstairs (I was at my parents' house) and made myself some peanut butter and jam sandwiches, as shown in the above and below illustrations.

But it's fear that I'd like to focus on for this post. Lately, I feel like I'm riddled with it. Like it's an infection or a disease.

In my mind, much of this fear is rooted in the perfectionism that that I am trying very hard to beat out of my system. I'm sure many of you can relate. This problem is not very original, but our experience of it is.

For me, this means doing things right. What's the best way to do it? Get people's approval. Don't rock the boat. Do what everybody else does, and make them happy. That will lead to your happiness. Right?
I've tried this route many different times in any number of ways. I always end up depressed.
As a career, I'm choosing something...different. Sometimes I have a hard time explaining it to other people. My parents have a hard time explaining it to their friends. This can be stressful.
Essentially, though, I am an artist. 
Deep breath. It's taken me a long to to accept that and also to say it.
Specifically, I harness that creativity and apply it to many things. Some people write. Some people paint. Some dance.
I like to combine art and food.
I am passionate about creativity, health and cooking. And I feel like my purpose is to teach people to bring art into their cooking using pizza as a canvas. To help me do this, I am building a mobile, artisanal pizza cooking school.
In a truck. Which I will drive from place to place (I hope across the country) teaching and cooking, cooking and teaching. And making art along the way. It's called:
This scares the ever-loving olive oil out of me.
I have constant fear that I'm doing it WRONG. What am I doing wrong? All of it. I'm making the wrong choices, going about those choices in the wrong way, and generally walking backwards on my hands without getting my shots beforehand. Sometimes it even seems that other people think these things about me, too. I can see it in their eyes. They fear FOR me. It's not encouraging.
I'm also fearful that the truck will fail because I will fail the truck. Meaning I won't do enough for it, can't do enough (I'm only one person), or even worse, it's a terrible idea.
To be honest, I know it's a fantastic idea. That does not mean the world will like it and that it will make money. And that's ok (really). If it can't float in this world as an idea because people don't appreciate it, that is very, very sad, but I can live with it. I will be plunged into a depression related to the undesirable state of humanity and question my position as a member of the human race, but I can live with that.
What I CAN'T live with is having the concept fail because I can't pull it off. I don't want it to be because of something I did. Whether it's that I didn't work hard enough, didn't put my energy toward the right things, or whatever.
I'm also having fear related to the overwhelm of getting something I want. I read a quote somewhere that says something like, "It's much easier to be almost something, than to actually be it." I am actually it right now. This thing is happening. There are dollars being exchanged and I am proposing the idea to companies, getting help from individuals, and attempting to make a plan for a cross country tour. And all the while I am trying to convince these same companies and individuals that I am a perfectly sane and capable person who just happens to be building a mobile pizza school.
Because that happens.
I have not seen it happen. And this is what faith is built on, correct? The idea that even though you have not seen, you believe. You believe because all the evidence to the contrary (people saying you can't do it, it doesn't exist, you are bananas... and you can't put bananas on a pizza), is not entirely convincing (I have appropriated that last line from Agent Mulder of the X-Files when he talks about why he believes in aliens).
Faith also assumes that there is something bigger than yourself out there.  I'm creating this school as an expression of myself, yes. It's personal. But it's also to reach out to others. To build a community and help, teach and learn from and for that community. To do that, you need believers. I need people to believe in me. People I know, and even people I don't know. I need them to jump on board.
And I have fear that they won't. This might be the scariest thing of all. I'm not sure if I know how to be a leader. Or if people will follow. I've been working as a solitary artist for the last few years so this outreach feels like going out into the very cold weather without a coat. I'm exposed and uncomfortable. I have to ask a LOT of people for help. I have to introduce myself to strangers, put my idea on the table and ask, "do you like this?" And hey, "How about helping me with it?"
And to be completely practical, I have to drive a giant van around the country that has a 3,000lb oven in it and teach people, hoping none of us will catch on fire.
I guess it boils down to, "Am I good enough?" And if I can get comfortable with the answer being yes (because I know that to be true) and also with the idea that many might disagree, then I should be ok.
Because you can't make all the people happy all of the time. Even after making my pear & gorgonzola pizza, there will always be those that prefer the caramelized onion & gruyere option.
I also have a completely separate but related fear and that is: the truck will take me away from my other art. The painting, the photographing, the creating. As I write that, I see how this isn't true. I see that the truck is an opportunity to inform my art and to have it grow because it provides a way to get direct feedback from people. I plan to use my painting and photographing as teaching tools, and also as ways to create other art pieces like cookbooks.
Finally, I have a fear of focusing. I've been doing about 100,000 different things for a long time, juggling them all in the air like some kind of professional clown. I've even figured out how to bill hours for said juggling. But now I'm saying, "This is it." This is the THING that I want to do. It's kind of like getting married—you're picking, with finality in your intention (even if not as an ultimate result) one person over the others.
I have been the bachelorette of jobs. The one-woman band who can play the harmonica, spoons and cymbals all at once. Now, I'm saying, "Pizza truck, will you marry me?" And instead of a ring, I bought an oven from Italy that burns things to seal the deal.
This kind of decision brings on a lot of anxiety, often referred to in the pre-wedding days as "cold feet." But I have already started my walk down the aisle, and even though I am occasionally casting glances back at the door behind me, I keep marching on.
I have faith in my choices. I have faith that this will work. And if it doesn't, I will have faith in the belief that I will have done everything I could, everything I possibly could. 
Now, who wants pizza?



References (13)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (3)

I have been following your blog for a long. long time now, but rarely comment. I just wanted to say congratulations to you. This is extremely exciting and a bold and I'm sure rather daunting step, but I hope it turns out even better than you hope for.

April 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarissa

It's not a failure if you are having fun. So when ya comin' to my town ? (Syracuse NY)

May 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

Elana, this is sooooo fabulous!!
If you want a place to stay in Jackson Hole Wy. you've got it!
Ditto Sedona AZ!
Also....check out @captainlizclark on instagram! If she can sail the world along with her can cross the country!
Am so sorry about Toby! Loosing a beloved pet is like loosing a part of yourself.

May 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>