Up to this day I have been exceeding many difficulties and I am proud of them. Up to my senior high school year everything was great. I was and still am hard-working and very interested in learning. My efforts were rewarded when I graduated my high school with honour, with silver medal. In addition I was active in various fields of activities, for example photographing, decathlon, alpinism. In my opinion I was relatively successful. My first bigger failure surprised me in my Lenin expedition where I had to accept, that because of simple errors made I am not able to climb higher than second camp. It was a big deal for me and made me rethink my values and expectations to my life.
My academic studies in Tartu University were not easy. At the end of the first year of my physics studies I thought that this must be the hardest thing I have ever done. Remember that I have climbed various quite high mountains and still I had this opinion. My mind was changed when I finished my second year of studies, because by far the second year was the hardest thing I have ever done. The same feeling repeated after third year. This time the reasons were rather tied with building up my family life. Academic studies were, thanks to the previous effort, rather pleasing. Especially my degree project.
After bachelor’s degree I applied to Noored Kooli, which is Estonian equivalent to Teach for America or UK’s Teach First. In the next summer I realized that there can not be any harder job than teaching. This was extremely challenging even to my family, because beside 50 to 60 and up to 70 hour work in a week my wife and son got rarely the attention they needed. Although long working hours would expect good results at school that was not the case back then. It seemed that almost nobody liked physics lessons and the students grades were terrible. I am glad to see that at least my lessons are a lot better.
A while ago I thought that all this hard work was just to challenge me and “optimally use my brain potential”. Recently I realized that it is not why I did it. Actually I remembered a good quote that was thriving me through choices I have made. “Successful is not who opens the right doors. Successful is who closes the least of them.” Overcoming challenges are the things that we can look back to and say that we did not close any doors, rather creating new opportunities. And if we are not happy with the result we can then choose the option what suits us best, but not before. In my opinion experiencing challenges makes us better at who we are. I am extremely happy to have learned both success and failure during challenges that keep improving me.
Photos: private collection, Siim Solman