Rachel Alejandro: Fear Less in 2013

Rachel Alejandro
What happens when we let our fear get the best of us? Rachel Alejandro tells us her story.

FEAR-LESS TEACHER. Taken during their New Year '11 trip, this photo shows Rachel forcing a smile as husband Carlos Santamaria is about to fearlessly bungee jump off the Macau Tower. Photo courtesy of Rachel Alejandro

MANILA, Philippines – Hard to believe 2012 is almost over.

In just a few short weeks, a new year will be upon us with promises of fresh starts and new beginnings. 

Last year, for her newspaper column, a friend asked me what my New Year’s resolution was for 2012. It took me only two seconds to reply, “I will go for the things I want and not let fear get in my way!”

Looking back, I realize this is a promise that I’ve made to myself again and again.

Just as some of us make and break our resolve to exercise more and eat healthy each year, I’m certain there are quite a few of you like me out there who find it easier to shrink back to our comfort zones when our goals seem out of reach, or if there is a distinct chance that we could fail. 

I’ve always been in awe of people who appear self-assured and are brave, courageous — the ones who “grab life by the horns” and “seize the day.”

You know the type: they walk into a room and easily strike up a conversation with anyone. When faced with a challenge, they step up to the plate, no problem.

My husband is such a person. He is never shy or awkward. He has an almost unhealthy lack of concern for personal safety. A common trait among journalists, I’ve heard. What I would give just to be like that. 

I’m a wannabe Gryffindor. If you’re familiar with the Harry Potter series, of which I am a huge fan, you would understand what I mean by that.

For those of you who are not, here’s a quick explanation: Harry Potter, boy wizard, goes to a school for magic called Hogwarts where students are sorted into 4 Houses — Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin — according to their personality traits, abilities and preferences. 

GRYFFINDOR AT HEART. Rachel outside the Harry Potter Exhibit in Singapore last October. Photo by Pheona Baranda

If you’re kind, reliable and just, you’re a Hufflepuff. Brainy, are you? You belong to Ravenclaw. You’re resourceful, ambitious and you don’t mind stepping on a few toes to get to the top? That makes you a Slytherin.

Brave of heart, courageous and daring? You’re a Gryffindor just like Harry. 

The thing of it is, I can pinpoint numerous instances where I allowed fear to get the better of me. In fact, my lack of nerve or, in some cases, my being a fit of nerves, changed the course of my life. Worst of all, it was always when I had to be at my absolute best that I clammed up. 

Last month, auditions were held here in Manila for a new West End production of Miss Saigon. Hundreds of our country’s finest theater artists and showbiz personalities turned up. Hearing about it brought back a rather unpleasant memory.

When I was 15 years old, the year after Lea Salonga bagged the lead role of Kim, I had the opportunity to audition for the show. I was so nervous that I barely slept or ate for days. I literally worried myself sick.

When the big day came, I had no voice and couldn’t hit the high notes as I sang, “I’d Give My Life For You,” a song that would have been a breeze for me any other time. Simply put, I sucked. Obviously, I didn’t get in. 

This heartbreaking experience taught me a lesson, but not a good one. In my mind, it justified my fear. Not too long ago, I moved to New York with dreams of making it on Broadway, but I never actually auditioned for any play. I always came up with all kinds of excuses not to go.

Okay, there was that one time that I wrote about in an earlier blog when I attempted to audition for Rock of Ages. I got the venue wrong at first; when I got to the right place, I was told that I didn’t make the cut-off. I was disappointed, of course.

But to be very honest, I was mildly relieved. Plus, it gave me a good excuse to console myself with a cheeseburger and fries at my favorite Upper East Side burger joint.

For some people like me, it’s when we want something too much, when everything is at stake that we lose sight of the goal and instead only see what there is to lose.

WITH 'KIM' AND 'MARIA.' Rachel with West End star Joanna Ampil, one of the Kims of 'Miss Saigon,' together with theater actress Cris Villonco, who played Maria in Resorts World Manila's 'The Sound of Music.' Photo courtesy of Rachel Alejandro

The fear of failing becomes more powerful than the vision to succeed.

I still believe I can change. Any behavior, good or bad, can be learned and also unlearned.

For instance, if I’m in a gathering where I see someone I know whom I should network with because he would be a good contact for work opportunities, I would normally be too embarrassed to talk to him. In my younger, single days, it would be a similar case if I saw a guy I liked.

Nowadays, I try to overcome my tendency to stand there speechless. I manage an opening line now and then with the work contact. (The best part about being married is never having to think of something brilliant or funny to say to a cute guy ever again!)

One thing that might help is to remember to keep looking forward. The past may have valuable lessons but it would be a mistake to think that if we screwed up at something before, we shouldn’t try it again.

As we get older and wiser, we become better equipped for certain things. It has been many years since I’ve lost my voice all because I am a much more relaxed performer now.

For 2013 and every year ahead, I resolve to put myself out there, heart and soul, make or break. At least, that’s what I intend as a Gryffindor wannabe.

No one in this world is truly fearless. For as long as we care about anything at all, we will dread its loss.

But there are those of us who fear less. And that’s what I aim to do. – Rappler.com

 

(Rachel Alejandro is a singer, actress, song-writer and entrepreneur. She will be seen next in ABS-CBN’S brand new telenovela, ‘May Isang Pangarap.’ She is co-owner of The Sexy Chef, OBC 5 Star Inc., a health food delivery and event catering service. Follow her on Twitter @SexyChefRachelA.)