Erick Rommel

Erick Rommel

You learn a lot about yourself in the middle of nowhere.

I discovered that when I was alone in my car, driving along a highway — not exactly Jack London’s “Call of the Wild.”

A week earlier, I had graduated from college. I had a degree and I wanted a job. My field of interest meant I would need to move away from home. With that reality in mind, I set off on a road trip. I talked my way into an interview in Bangor, Maine. By the time I left the building, I had a job offer.

At first, I was thrilled. Someone wanted to pay me to work in the professional field where I wanted to spend the rest of my life. Then, reality set in and thoughts bounced around. First, Bangor was far from everything and everyone I knew. Second, in elementary school, I’d lived a year in New Hampshire, and didn’t have the best of memories. And, finally, I did the math. The salary I was offered, after paying for food and an apartment, would mean I’d have less than $50 a month to spend on everything else.

Looking back, the decision was simple, but at the time, I had conflicting emotions. On the long drive from Bangor to my more familiar surroundings, the thoughts circled my head. Finally, hours later, I made the call I couldn’t have imagined a few days earlier: I turned the job down.

Getting that job offer gave me confidence to believe I could get other job offers as well. I believed in myself and I believed I would find success. For the next six months, all I had was that belief. I didn’t have job offers. I didn’t even have job interviews. I had sent out resumes and received lots of rejection letters.

Finally, while removing a foot of snow from my parents’ driveway, I received a phone call. Someone wanted to interview me for a job in Florida.

I packed a bag and began the 15-hour car ride to Tallahassee. Once again, the result was the same. By the time I left the building, I had a job offer. Once again, I was thrilled. Once again, thoughts bounced.

This time, I made a similar call with a different outcome. I accepted the job. Less than three weeks later, I was a Florida resident. In the end, each of my decisions was correct. I would not have been happy in Bangor. And, more important, I would not have known why.

I learned to get over self-doubt. I learned to analyze decisions. I learned to have confidence and belief in my decisions. I truly began understanding who I was and who I wanted to become.

If I hadn’t had that long ride on a Maine or Florida interstate, I wouldn’t have had time to understand what I was thinking or learned what was important and what factors mattered in making a decision.

You don’t have to get away to the desert or a mountain or the woods to gain a better understanding of yourself. You just need to learn how to listen to yourself, figure out what’s important, and gain the courage to make decisions that you can stand behind.