This is a very strange thing to be stuck on, but…
I’m looking for straightforward, easily-memorable words meaning “what you strive to be” and “what you struggle not to be (even though it’s a strong temptation)”.
The best I’ve got for the former is “virtue”, which has too strong of moral/religious connotations for my liking (someone might be motivated by ambition, but most people wouldn’t call ambition a moral virtue), and the best I’ve got for the latter is “hamartia” (the flaw that dooms a tragic hero), but that’s four syllables long and not exactly catchy.
A metaphor works just fine (instead of a literal meaning), if you have one, but since these tie in to a game mechanic, I’d like something that people can remember easily (which is why “hamartia” is out).
(The intended use case, btw, is for a sort of personal karma meter where the endpoints potentially shift during play. These are the terms for the endpoints.)
Some ideas to toss out:
Fulfillment and indulgence
Authenticity and hypocrisy
Jekyll and Hyde
Honor and corruption
Honor and shame
Satisfaction and regret
True Heart and Abandon
Harmony and disquiet
Inner Peace and Troubled Mind/Soul/Heart
Paragon - a model of excellence or perfection
Reprobate - an unprincipled person (often used humorously or affectionately).
Venal might be a good word for the negative one. Maybe paired with Principled? Staunch? True? Sure? Steadfast?
Or going more abstract: Apex/Nadir?
conscience / temptation
[inner] angel / devil (as in the classic trope)
superego / id
destiny / doom
pride / shame
That sounds like Jung’s shadow self.
So maybe light/shadow or playing with a thesaurus: lux/umbra. Or coin a new word: luxumbra
Edit: Just googled it. Apparently Luxumbra is already a thing.
Well there’s the obvious one:
Hard to say whether it’d be better to draw from words that are true opposites of one another or not. Also, I find these terms getting more ornate as I go on; knowing what sort of setting this is for would help narrow down the possible tone.
- Idol - Failing
- Ideal - Flaw
- Strength - Weakness (obviously not in the physical sense (or, probably))
- Growth - Decay
- Decency - Corruption
- Value - Indecency
- Oath - Obscenity
- Goal - Distraction
- Motivation - Morass
- Aspiration - Diversion
- Target - Aside