(By Rob Shirkey — Kitchener, Ontario, Canada)

It wasn’t funny at the time…

I was so nervous the first time I was in court. Outwardly, I did well. I won. A senior lawyer even paid me a high compliment on my cross-examination.

But while I may have looked composed, my stomach was in knots. I even threw up my breakfast as I was getting ready to leave my apartment.

Looking back on that now, I suppose I can smile. I think of that kid that fought through and is doing well. I’m also really grateful for the personal growth that the opportunity gave me. I’ve argued many cases in court since that day and I know that the experience has done wonders for me. While trial work was something I was hoping to avoid, it ended up being a great confidence booster and is one of several life experiences that has given me the courage to pursue an exciting new career direction and a more fulfilling, meaningful life.

So what did I do that morning after I threw up my breakfast?

I brushed my teeth, adjusted my tie, and walked to the courthouse.

Short-term lesson: Don’t eat breakfast on mornings I have to be in court!

Long-term lesson: It got better. I was still anxious the second time, but less so. I slowly gained more and more confidence after each experience. Next thing I knew, I was even eating breakfast! And it wasn’t long after that I was looking forward to court and enjoying free hours spent looking up cases to support my arguments, thinking of creative approaches to cross-examinations, and going over possible closing arguments.

I was actually having fun!

Fear and doubt hinder growth and limit our potential. We often respond to fear through avoidance. But the secret isn’t to wait for the fear to go away so you can act, it’s to accept the fear and recognize that it’s only through action that the fear will go away. Challenging ourselves is how we grow.

So whatever is holding you back, go for it. When you’re through the fire, I promise you’ll look back one day and thank yourself for doing it. And I know you’ll be living a happier, more fulfilling life for it.

One final thought: when you’ve reached that point, don’t be afraid to share your story with others. We’re all human and there is no shame in sharing our struggles. In reaching out, there may be someone out there that will come across your words, be heartened by your success, and feel encouraged that they too can overcome their struggles.

Your turn! What lessons have you learned from life’s awesome and absurd moments? Share you stories with us and help us grow our collection of teachable misadventures.