Verite Sans Peur

I entered an all-girls’ boarding school my sophomore year of high school. 

My initial requirements to agree to attend were that it be co-ed without uniforms and yet I fell in love at-first-sight with an all-girls boarding school that required uniforms. 

It changed my life. 

Aside from my second grade year, I had attended private school throughout elementary and middle-school.  

And then I entered my freshman year in public school.  

Easy to predict, girl from small school gets swallowed by the wrong crowd- my grades, self-worth and confidence bottomed out.  I went from an honors student to failing ninth grade English- the subject that would later become my college major and career. 

I followed the popular crowd and resorted to stealing as a method of proving my bravery, a habit that eventually caught up with me at a local 7-11 convenience store. I used my privilege to avoid harsh punishments until I found haven at St. Timothy’s School. 

The first day, I entered the “school store”, where you purchased your school supplies on the honor system- simply writing in a notebook on the cashier’s counter what you had taken.  

As a thief, the system was abhorrent to me- how could they be so naive?  But as I observed all that I could take without payment, I also envisioned a life I could lead with honesty.  

I walked out of the store and started up the stairs, accidentally holding the pen I had used to write down my supplies.  I stopped and wondered:  it was an innocent enough mistake.  Anyone could take a pen by accident.  But then I realized why I was truly there- to change my life.  

So I turned around and handed the pen to the “store lady” named “Dee” who looked me directly in the eyes and responded without hesitation, as if it had always been intended to be said to me, “Thank you, that is so honest of you.” 

I was never the same. 

That compliment of honorability would become the path I chose from thereon.  

Verite Sans Peur. 

Our school’s motto.  

Truth Without Fear. 

A motto I continue to live by in all aspects of my life, even when it is inconvenient.  

So simple, and yet, so powerful.  

If only we could all live our truths without fear. 

Verite Sans Peur. 

The Traveling Salesman

Wrinkled.

The best way to describe my fingers.

Saturated.

My undergarments.

Rain.

Nonstop for 9 hours as I walked door -to-door on the streets of small-town Ohio.

The Traveling Salesman.

Finally, someone answered.

The furniture, well-worn. The space, cluttered.

Thoughtfully, he leafed through my encyclopedias as he listened to my pitch.

Sincerely, he asked if they would truly help his children.

It was the question I had been trained to answer.

I glanced at the Britannicas on his shelf, knowing very-well how much he had sacrificed to pay for them.

And with my first sale of the day within arms reach and tears in my eyes, I shook my head “no”.

No, you don’t need these.

No, this is not worth the “sale”.

No, this is not for me.

And with that, I thanked him for his time and made my way back into the rain.

Face up. Cleansed. Renewed.

The traveling salesman, no longer.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

 

 

 

 

Solidarity

“We should have stopped at three.”

I stood motionless.  Awestruck at what this mother had just admitted, so honestly,  to me.

It was the exact opposite of what I wanted to hear when I asked the question, “What’s it like to have four?”

But like spinach stuck in teeth, there it was.

The ugly truth.

I wanted to hear how much better it was to have an even number of children; how life seemed incomplete until the fourth arrived.

I wasn’t seeking her truth- I was seeking validation for my relentless desire.

Until I had my fourth.

After which, I understood how much easier it is to reflect and regret, instead of look forward and wonder.

This mother wasn’t a monster.  Of course, she loved her fourth, she explained.  But life with three was busy enough.  Four felt unsustainable.

Horrified then, I now feel gratitude for her veracity.

Solidarity.

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