You’ve heard the saying, “Pick your battles.” Most of the time you hear this as a warning for a battle you probably “shouldn’t” pick. What about the battles worth fighting for?
The battles worth picking for me may be distilled into this statement by Dr. Seuss or Bernard Baruch (I am not sure of the correct attribution of this quote):
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Battle #1 — The battle to be who I am. Ha! Easier said than done. Not because I don’t want to do it, but because I often wonder whether “who” I “am” is the person I want to be, or the composition drawn by countless people over decades of my life. I just turned 40, that’s 2.102*10^7 minutes-worth of environmental influences and people trying to tell me who I should be (for my own good, of course), and for more than 50% of these decades, I was not consciously aware of these influences, so deeply embedded were these within my thought processes.
The battle to be who I am is worth fighting for and winning, because I don’t want to spend my life living someone else’s life.
Battle #2 — The battle to say what I feel. What — and risk being called “overly emotional” or “rough around the edges”? OK, so I’ve been called these things. I’ve also been told that I wear my heart on my sleeve, makes me an easy target for manipulation by spiteful or malevolent people. Maybe it is smarter to guard what I feel most of the time… But since I’m aware of this, I’d find ways to inoculate myself against emotional manipulation, yes?
The battle to say what I feel is worth fighting for and winning, because I spend energy experiencing those feelings rather than inhibiting those feelings, and I have made some incredibly rewarding friendships by honestly sharing what I feel.
Battle #3 — The battle to mind only those who matter and not mind those who don’t. A bit of a tongue-twister here, just like the battle itself, it can be tricky and fraught with landmines. I’ve come across many who seem to matter only to find out I’ve given them the weight they don’t deserve, and I’ve seen how easy it is to discount the people who do matter only to find out that these are the people worth their weight in gold (or platinum? Palladium? Rhodium What’s the coolest precious metal to invest in right now?)
I still find it difficult to “not mind” those who don’t matter because in the deep recesses of my mind, there is a little script running loops saying that I need to care about everyone’s opinions especially the negative ones, to amplify how imperfect I truly am, so I can beat myself up over this imperfection.
The battle to mind those who matter and not mind those who don’t is worth fighting for and winning, because at the end of my life, I’d rather hold the hands of people who see me when I show them who I am, and hear me when I tell them what I feel.
What about you? What are the battles worth fighting for in your life?