That is, I suddenly realized that every time I have ever heard anyone tell someone else that they needed to choose their battles, what they meant is “don’t choose the battle you are currently choosing.” This can be problematic on its face, depending on who is giving the advice, since it isn’t always appropriate for someone to presume to know what is and is not important enough for another person to fight for. But in general, I do think that the idea of consciously choosing which battles to fight is good advice.
Because of course, we all have a finite amount of energy, and part of good self-care is knowing when you need to get out of the fray and be somewhere safe for you and relax and/or have fun if you can. And striving to expend what energy we do have in places that are important, or where we are more likely to make progress or enact change is a good idea. Good, progressive, social-justice-warrior energy is a precious resource, and while I wouldn’t presume to question other people’s priorities on this front where they differ from mine (unless I think they are going to make the world worse), I do think we should each individually be aware of this when we decide where we want to put our own energies.
So, I would very much like to see the “choose your battles” idiom be used and thought about in a more positive way. It doesn’t always have to be about battles that supposedly aren’t worth fighting. IT can also be about the ones that are. We should all try to fight the battles we can, the ones we have the energy for, the ones that feel doable and/or worthwhile for us to fight. We should choose the ones that make us feel empowered, or the ones that we just can’t let go, the ones that are vital to our continued existence and recognition in society, or whatever else we value and prioritize.
So yeah, choose your battles consciously, by all means. And fight them with pride.