This month I am taking the biggest opportunity of my career thus far. Later in April, Pastaio, a pasta-centric New England restaurant, will open and I'll be managing the dining room. Throughout the past year, I've had countless conversations with people about the restaurant's progress and the amazing opportunity in front of me. As I smile and gush about the paint color and the amazing team we already have an insidious emotion makes itself known in my headspace. Fear.
The fear comes in a few different forms. I start to have subtle but real thoughts of doubt in my abilities and preparedness. Dreams of an empty restaurant and sneering customers keep me from sleeping. For a while, I didn't address the fear or talk about it. Gradually I brought it up as a footnote in the regular Pastaio progress conversations; saying "Oh, I'm so excited! But I'm also a bit nervous". Fear snuck its way into my sentences that should have been thankful and proud. As I started addressing the fear, interactions became more honest and friends offered up assurances and anecdotes of their own experiences.
It's cliche, but I realized, that everyone experiences fear in their journey to do great things. We pride ourselves on being busy, aspirational individuals always hustling for our goals. Rarely do we open up about the parts we didn't enjoy or the days we spent scared, wondering if we were going down the right path. If we manage to be vulnerable with others and share those humanizing emotions with each other, a greater network of understanding and support arises within relationships. Honestly addressing fear to yourself and others allows you to normalize the emotion and find a way past it.
Normalizing fear, like accepting honesty and embracing the uncomfortable, gives you room to grow and make the most of your opportunities. Having tough conversations with friends led me to realize that my fear could be soothed with planning and preparation. As I get closer to opening night I also find that I don't have time for fear. There just are not enough days in a week for me to spend time worrying when I can take that energy and use it for the growing to-do list of a soon to be restaurant manager.
Bethany Caliaro is a Johnson & Wales University Graduate working on opening Pastaio in Providence this spring. She loves connecting with the Providence community through her work with The Lady Project and her Instagram. In her spare time, she tries to grow plants and eats out with her friends.