I’m naturally a very private person and maintain a tiny circle of friends and associates.

I do have a half decent network on Twitter. I’ve been interacting with a lot of people for years. Unlike other social media platforms Twitter is peculiar in the sense that it’s a true mirror of who you really are. It has a way of revealing true character perhaps because of the anonymity that comes with pseudo names and minimal personal information but it’s that obscurity that allows people to open up and allow themselves to be more vulnerable amongst total strangers.

When you conversate it almost feels like you have a one to one intimate connection with who you are interacting with and I notice that whenever I meet a person from there, they are always as advertised, you just pick off from where you left and so I’ve established many great connections over the years there.

And on my birthday on April 19 I received a couple of birthday messages from my Twitter fam including some people that actually know me and I noticed something peculiar.
A common thread amongst the messages was the word ‘Real’ to describe me. From real G, you’re the realest person I know and things of that nature etc

I must say I was chuffed that anyone would associate that with me.

After the fourth person said it I was curious as to what they really meant.

Realness is a difficult word to decipher though when you try to distill it.

You can call a person REAL but you can’t really pin down what’s real about them.

I know the phrase keeping it real has been killed to the point where it doesn’t even mean anything anymore in popular culture. Browse any personal advertisements and every other person who lacks a sufficiently descriptive vocabulary will describe themselves as “real”.

A complement you don’t really understand is a mind fuck so I took the phrase to Google and went down the rabbit hole of what the Internet defines as REAL and this is what I found.

Real
1).adj; The action of being true to one’s self as well as being true to others.
2.)adj; being exactly as appears or as claimed
3.)adj. free from any intent to deceive or impress others
4.adj: The action of being true to the code of ethics of one’s self, culture, and environment. ie: keep it real
5.adj: To be down to earth; have a grip on reality.
6.adj: Being able to be your own individual and not be afraid to stand out.
7. adj:Admitting your flaws as well as your confidence.

After reading all this I found myself feeling giddy and elated that I could at least be associated with one of these definitions of REAL, that my life and character could be synonymous with such positivity. I’ll be the first to admit my imperfections and personal frailties and that I can only aspire to be the sort of REAL ascribed above but I will gleefully take all the compliments.

I have been on quite a barren run on the road to success and happiness of late. My life hasn’t been too rosey but I’m rolling with it. I’ve maintained a healthy perspective about things with cautious optimism that mayhaps the tide is about to turn as the wheel of fortune invariably does.

With that in mind I was pretty indifferent and subdued on the morning of my birthday with a twinge of insecurity that things should be better.

When those graceful messages started to trickle in specifically the ‘Real’ones, my mood was immediately lifted and the pride and contentment that followed lifted my spirits to levels I cannot put a price on.

As I sit back and ponder on how far I’ve come, I think I’m happy about who I’ve become. I don’t have a lot of friends but I have a few real ones. I’m not perfect by any stretch but I do strive to treat everyone with kindness and respect regardless of their station and status in life.

I focus on character before appearance and I understand life is a marathon and not a competition. Sometimes you’re ahead and sometimes you’re behind and it’s fruitless to waste your time on petty jealousy.

I’ve made a conscious effort not to worry excessively though my mind works overtime to counter that.

The real troubles in our lives are aptly things that never crossed your mind that blind sided you when you least expected it.. Your next big crisis is something you can never imagine or prepare for like the death of a parent or diagnosis of a chronic illness. If you can sit down and mull over it with anxiety, chances are it won’t be that important to you in twelve months.

Worrying is like trying to solve an algebra problem by chewing gum.

I’m also learning not to be too critical of myself or others as we are all working from the same dog-eared script. At best our choices are half chance so berating myself or others is an exercise in futility.

I’ve grown to accept certain indelible truths, prices will rise and politicians will philander. The nature of man is fundamentally unchanging. What has happened before will perforce happen again so I treat current affairs and political debate with a healthy scepticism and the indifference it deserves.

Fine its important to stay abreast on current affairs but the news is invariably the same, the dates and players may change but the game is the same.

It’s much more important to focus on what you can do for yourself and not what the world can do for you.

Most importantly I’m proud of myself for having the courage of my convictions in the face of criticism and scorn from family and peers.

I always try or aspire to be consistent.

Whether I have a dollar or a thousand dollars in my pocket I try to maintain the same air. I don’t let money or circumstances dilute my character because these things are fleeting. One day you have them and the next day you don’t. They are fickle so to speak.

I truly believe that if you want to make a difference in this world then you have to be different from the world. You’ll go much further if you stop trying to look and act and think like everyone else.

That the majority of people think this or that, does not necessarily guarantee the validity of their opinions and anyone who claims to know everything will lie about the little things too.

It is much better to trust in your own convictions and take all advice with a grain of salt. Be careful whose advice you buy but be patient with those who supply it and know that free advice is often the worst advice, opinions are not facts.

Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about their own.

I’m acutely sensitive about how I’m treated and as I try my best to treat everyone with fairness and respect I also expect the same in return. However the world will never bend itself to accommodate your wills and once in a while you’re at the receiving end of rebuke, condescension and contempt. I used to be very reactive to anything resembling a slight but I’m learning to forget insults and focus on the compliments. It’s easier said than done because I can be very direct and confrontational.

The wisdom that only comes with age has tempered my temper. I’m learning to pick my battles well through carefully thought about, selected and internalised values.

I do not need to necessarily acknowledge every idiot that tries to throw shade my way and no one can take your self respect if you don’t give it to them.

Life is short, you can’t afford to miss a day over someone else.

The last and greatest lesson albeit a hard one is learning that I can not truly depend on anyone else but myself. When times are tough you’re going to need a shoulder to lean on and someone to bail you out of a tight spot. You don’t know loneliness until you face off with a drought or barren spell like I’ve experienced.

It feels like a cruel jape from heaven when despite your best efforts, everything seems to stall and you cannot catch a decent break and you feel like you’re plodding toward stagnation. The feeling that this, this! can’t be the story of my life knocks you out cold. You will seek encouragement but you will not find it.

In the grand scheme of things I think that’s the all important truth I’ve had to square off with before I can level up to the next phase of my pursuit of happiness.

A quote I came across sums it up up succinctly as :

“Don’t expect anyone else to support you, you may have a wealthy spouse or trust fund but you never know when either will run out.”

It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless automaton of characters.

Social media has blurred the mirror, few can still recognise the person staring back at them in the mirror. We literally live in a filtered society to put the gloss over our actual reality.

And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as REALNESS , because we don’t have genuine souls..

Imitation is suicide.
Therefore I urge everyone to always keep it Real with themselves and others. It’s a rare thing to aspire to in this fake world.

In closing I reflect on this quote from Ralph Waldo
Emerson :

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

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