My entire faith in the FF series has been shaken.

I don’t think Squall ever wanted to be seen as a bad ass. He either did hate, or put on a pretty good show of hating, all attention and admiration. In my opinion he just wanted to be left alone to get on with his life, and it was only through the persistence of the other characters that they barely began to crack that shell of his.

I agree. To claim that Squall was pretending, or wanting to seem like something he wasn’t implies that he cared what other people thought about him, which he didn’t seem to do at all, even in his inner thoughts. It was more a matter of him trying to be that uncaring, invulnerable person, than just wanting everyone to think he was. He did seem to have a sense of pride, but I think that was based more on what he thought of himself than what he wanted other people to think of him.

One thing I forgot to mention is that the choice of acting different to one’s true self is NOT always a conscious choice.

My take on Squall is that he BELIEVED himself to be strong, and didn’t need anyone else, and acted that way; but inside, he missed having a family and friends. But he couldn’t bring himself to realize it. As pointed out, it was his friends (especially Rinoa) who got to him with their persistence. (Though you know, I never understood WHAT motivated them to keep trying. Must’ve been supressed memories from their infancy…)