I would rather set my hair on fire and put it out with a frying pan than see a horror movie. I can’t even watch Law & Order without having nightmares.

Being afraid is not my thing. At least that’s what I always believed. Yet, fear comes in many forms, and I’ve learned that if it has to do with me personally, I’m a glutton for it. Not the blood-and-gore kind or the kidnapped-and-left-for-dead kind, it’s the kind that ties my stomach in knots so I can’t eat or sleep for days. I’ve come to realize my biggest fear isn’t a killer in the closet, but the simple act of failing.

The idea of potentially falling flat on my face, whether be in front of my kids or my colleagues, is what scares me the most. However, if given the choice between taking the easy road or being sick to my stomach with fear, I can’t help but take on the challenge. I’ve found this one thing I dread has actually been a healthy factor in succeeding at things I never thought I could.

You may feel this same sensation when you’re afraid of committing to a relationship, asking for a raise, or lacing up your sneakers for your first 5K. Whatever fears you may be facing, you need to know that this emotion is an important part of growing and succeeding. If you find you’re in a situation that scares you a little each time you reach for a new goal or undertake a new challenge, that’s a good thing. A great thing in fact. Whether it’s a career move or a personal goal you’ve always wanted to achieve, taking on your biggest fears will make you a stronger person.

Yes, I know—it’s easier said than done. You may or may not know that I appear regularly on NBC’s TODAY show as a lifestyle and entertainment expert. I have no formal training in broadcast journalism. Perhaps that is why every single time I have to go on air without fail, a knot forms in my stomach, and I start to breathe a little faster. Why in the world I’m afraid of doing something I have done hundreds of times is beyond me, but it has become a part of what drives me. The excitement and nerves are proof that I’m going for something I really want.

There’re very few things in my life to which I’ve had this same visceral reaction. Each of those, including my wedding day, my first interview at the Food Network, and asking to write my first magazine cover story have all worked out in my favor. I’ve learned to embrace the nerves and acknowledge that on the other side of these scary situations are rewards I could only have dreamed of.

Conquering fear builds confidence and character. Once you’re on the other side of it, you’ll have developed a skill set that will help you handle other difficult situations. So next time you feel afraid to make a move or ask for what you really want from a situation, remember it’s OK. It’ s all part of the process.

Challenge yourself, embrace the fear, and go for it. The worst thing that could happen is you may not get exactly what you want, but if you don’t try, you never will.

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