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We all have interesting stories. The individuals we see on the streets, the people we work with, our mentors, our friends and families all have experiences that make great stories. The ‘Everybody Has a Story‘ series is a reminder that every individual is special and inspiring.

Sara Weales can be described in six words: animal-lover, nature-lover, people-lover.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Communication at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in June 2012. Just shortly after she completed university, she landed her dream job of working for a non-profit organization and gained the opportunity to travel to places such as Kenya and Ecuador. Speaking to Urban Times, Sara shares her amazing travel experiences and the story behind the strength it took her to leave behind what she thought was the dream.

Sara Weales in Kenya. (c) Sara Weales, 2012.

Sara Weales in Kenya. (c) Sara Weales, 2012.

“It was a remarkable experience. I really fell in love with travelling, the people of Kenya and Ecuador, the high school students I helped, the cultures, and the food,” shares Sara. “In Kenya, I loved the serenity of the Massai Mara and the smiles of the children. I was also amazed by the fact that within days in Ecuador, I went from this beautiful historical city to the mountains, then to the Amazon rainforest. I soaked in every single moment.” Sara adds.

Sara also shares her admiration for the environment of the organization. She claims that the buildings and weeks were always filled with positive people, personal development opportunities, and team building exercises. However, Sara eventually felt the pressure of being around so many people who had more experiences than her. Being away from home also took its toll. “I had to leave behind my love and my family for six weeks. And although the opportunity allowed me to experience my highest highs, it also became really exhausting.”

As exciting as it was, it made her realize what her priorities really are. In today’s society, money, work and crammed schedules tend to take over our lives. We constantly occupy ourselves with responsibilities meant to increase profit and material production. Relationships usually end up getting the short end of the stick. “It’s a daily struggle for me too, but I’m trying hard to focus on what’s important, who’s important, and just enjoying life’s simple pleasures.”

Sometimes the things we desire the most just do not fit with our desired lifestyle. It is important to reassess our values and goals, and not lose sight of who we actually are in the process of achieving our dreams. “Eventually, I landed a job with the company that knew me, valued me, and made me feel capable again. I spent the fall falling back into this new job, a position I know so well, all the while finding new things to learn, try and enjoy.”

Sara admits missing Kenya and Ecuador. “I miss the feeling of seeing a giraffe for the first time, of watching the cheetah in the middle of the Masaai Mara. Of waking up to the sound of cows and cowbells and children playing at the school beside us. Of sitting in the dry brown grass playing and laughing with the young girls I bonded with so much. I miss living in tents with 18 wonderful personalities, meeting mama’s and our friend, Clinton who taught us about so much more than just their culture,” she recounts. 

As Sara has shown, what is important is having the ability of knowing when to say yes to a dream, and when to say no. “At some point, you gotta let go, and sit still, and allow contentment to come to you.” Happiness is found in the simplest of places. Often time, happiness is right in front of us.

Canada. (c) Sara Weales, 2012.

Canada. (c) Sara Weales, 2012.