I don't really know why this particular topic jumped into my head. But it's been dogging me for a while so I decided I might just as well spit it out and see where it takes me.
I guess it's open for debate exactly what "being real" means. When I hear someone say, "Get real!" they seem to be talking more about someone thinking along the same lines as them instead of really wanting what is "real." The word is definitely abused a lot.
I guess that means that "real" is another of those subjective things. Each person will have her/his own perception of what the word means. Along with that will go what it means to be real.
To me I think being real it is about being true to ourselves. When we do things because others think we should, we are really putting on a face and stuffing down our feelings, trying to manipulate a situation for peace at the expense of our own needs.
While that might be "real life" for lots of people, it's not productive nor is it real. Such behavior leads to unhappiness and even to depression. When we continually put the needs of others above our own, we end up feeling anything but healthy or happy.
While living like that is a reality for many people, I know from personal experience it doesn't solve anything. Because we cannot control the feelings of others, even doing what they want will not make them happy nor keep us safe from their anger. In the long run that means we will not be happy either. It is a game in which there are no real winners.
I believe when we can be true to ourselves, we not only can discover true happiness but we will find ourselves with people who do the same. Which in turn makes it much easier to stay on course. It's definitely easier to be real with people who appreciate it, than around those who don't.
It's been my experience when I learned to be "real' that my family retreated from me quite quickly. Sure it was painful during that process and I worried I might be doing the wrong thing. But in the long run I am much happier for it. I have my own "hand picked" group of friends who are more like family than my family could ever be. Being real has made a huge difference in my life.
Just for the record I'm not condoning being selfish. Being true to oneself does not mean tromping on the feelings of others. But it's important to remember that we are NOT responsible for the feelings of others either. What we are responsible for is what we do.
If we are listening to that inner voice that guides us through life's maze and making decisions appropriate for us and someones feelings get hurt in the process, we are not responsible for what that person feels. She/he is the only one who can resolve the issues that may have caused her/his reaction, not us. There negative reaction does NOT make our behavior wrong or inappropriate.
Being able to keep this straight and not take on the feelings of others is an important part of finding our way to true mental health. We cannot affix more importance to the feelings of others than we do our own, or we will never be real. We will instead be what those around us believe we should be. I'm pretty sure that most understand that "should" really gets in the way and makes us very unhappy.