September 8, 2016 – After a lot of deliberation, I’ve decided to change the name of this site from “La Vie Sans Peur” to “Lauren Without Fear”. I’m not going to alter the content of this article despite this change because “sans peur” is still tattooed on me and will ALWAYS be a part of my life, but I felt it was important to add this update to avoid confusion. Thanks so much for being an AMAZING community!
This is it, you guys… the topic I’ve been avoiding. Ironically enough, I’ve had major anxiety about doing justice to this blog post, but at a certain point I just needed to get over it and do the damn thing, so here we are. Let’s talk about how “sans peur” came into my life.
In May 2011, my friend Lindsay and I left for a week-long European adventure with one pair of shoes and a small backpack each; we flew budget airlines and stayed in inexpensive hostels. Neither of us had done anything like this before, so we were nervous and crazy-excited. The first city we visited was Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Edinburgh Castle is unavoidable while visiting this city; you can see it on top of it’s regal hillside from virtually anywhere downtown. There’s a family ancestry area in the castle’s gift shop, and since both sides of my family claim to have Scottish heritage, I thought I’d have a look. I failed to find out much about my paternal ancestry, but my mom’s maiden name, Southerland (historically spelled Sutherland and later changed) turned out to be a fairly large Scottish clan. I wound up buying a Sutherland family ancestry book that contained all the information a good Scottish family should know about themselves: their tartan colors, their crest, their family motto, etc.
This family heritage book is where I discovered that the Sutherland family motto is “sans peur”, which means “without fear”. Let’s be real – this phrase probably came about during some crazy clash-of-the-clans moment in time when the Sutherlands had to motivate themselves to go to war and fearlessly protect their land. Regardless of its origins, the phrase stuck with me.
I was going through a lot of firsts at this point in my life. By the end of 2009, the furthest I had traveled from my hometown in Northwest Washington was San Diego. By 2010, I had been to New Orleans. At the time “sans peur” came into my life in 2011 I had just flown overseas, lived abroad, left for a multi-country backpacking trip, and for the first time felt an ancestral connection to a physical place. I’d always understood myself as an adventurer in my mind, but this is when I finally met myself, a fearless world traveler, for the first time.
“Sans peur” has also helped me through the lowest points of my mental health. I’ll save an explanation of my anxiety and depression for another post, but just know I’ve dealt with these traits for as long as I can remember. Know that I’m not talking about anxiety and depression for pity or attention – I’m saying it because if more people talked about how their lives are touched by mental illness, we would be healthier people. When I finally admitted the chemical chaos in my brain, I made a conscious decision not to let it get in the way of my wandering nature. What I discovered from this life choice is that the more I push myself out of my comfort zone, the bigger my comfort zone gets. A life truly without fear is impossible, but there’s a saying that pops into my head when I consider this: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
I got “sans peur” tattooed on my arm so that no matter what I do, I can’t forget about the time I realized how amazing it feels to live fearlessly, and I’ll always remember to shoot for the moon.
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