Probably over a year ago at this point, I asked Charlie what about me could stand improving. (He would occasionally ask this question of me, and it seemed worth knowing.) Charlie told me that honesty was the main thing I had to work on. I asked him again some time later (though still before I moved to Pittsburgh) and he repeated the same thing—that everything other than honesty was basically fine, and that was the one thing I needed to watch out for.
Then in the honesty meme recently, Laura told me that fear is what I have to look out for.
Without considering whether either of these (or some third thing—“evasion” was a candidate in my mind for a while) is my “fundamental problem”, considering both of them at the same time is possibly illuminating. Specifically, I frequently view these two things as being opposed to one another, and believe that I have to choose between them. It seems pretty consistent for the past year or so that the times when I'm happy are the times when I'm fearlessly fabricating some sort of story (thus being dishonest) and getting others to buy into it. Meanwhile, the times when I am honest, I'm also intensely fearful because I believe that others would and will reject me if I reveal my “true self” to them. (To answer two obvious objections: yes, I'm aware that rejection is not the end of the world, but I think I have a pretty realistic assessment of how much it does hurt, and that's a lot; and yes, I have good reason to believe that the rejection I fear is a very realistic and likely possibility—it isn't just some abstract fear without any real grounding.)
It seems like the most obvious lesson to take from all of this is that happiness is fleeting and I should and must grab it when and if I see it, because I won't get another chance on any particular opportunity, and because any situation that feels good is also fundamentally unsustainable. I am resistant to accepting this at a core level, but my behavior often seems to conform to it pretty closely anyway.
My current depressed state is due to two factors: I have been smacked in the face recently with a lot of reality, in the form of “things go wrong, and no one really cares”; and I seem to have run out of games to play or stories to tell that would justify it, give it some meaning so that it seems like my suffering has a point.
(Hey, if I keep up this level of whininess long enough, do I eventually become goth?)