Lessons learned in solitude Print
Youth Column
Written by Erick Rommel, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Dec. 03, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

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.

Erick Rommel is a former staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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