As you can probably imagine, the advice I most hated at the time was, "You can choose to be happy. Attitude is a choice."
I wanted to punch every adult that told me that. I wanted to scream in their faces, "YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I HURT." I mean, c'mon, do you really think telling me that will help? Thank you for pointing out that I'm not pleasant to be around—it makes me feel much better! Because I didn't know that. Hell, I don't even like to be around myself! Not surprised others can't stand me, since that's kind of my goal. Can we be more obvious?
Well, truth be told, I still hate when people tell me that. Not because I don't believe it, but because I KNOW it's true. I really do. I know a person can change their attitude if they want.
But...it's not so easy for some people. I have anxiety—social anxiety in spades, mixed with a fear of failure, some OCD (heavier on the Obsession side, leading to catastrophizing and then panic attacks), and a lifetime of low self-esteem tied to a lot of bullying. I don't say this to make excuses, but because I don't think a lot of people understand how HARD it can be to change your attitude when that is the exact kind of mental disorder you face.
So I want people with anxiety or depression or other mental hurdles to know that I get this—I get how much it can hurt when someone says, "Well, just STOP BEING SAD. Duh." And then you want to burst into tears because you would LOVE to not be like this, and you are trying so hard not to be but obviously it's not working and people just don't understand.
It sucks, it really, really sucks. But the thing is, even though I have received that advice at the worst possible moments, it doesn't negate its verity. We CAN change our attitudes. I know this to my core, because I have done it, both for better and for worse.
Is it hard to change my attitude? YES. Very hard, in fact. It can be a full-time, weeks-and-weeks-long battle to beat back my negative, anxious tendencies. For me, it is so much easier to let those dark thoughts take hold, to play with them and let them hurt me. Sometimes, it takes every ounce of willpower I have to decide that I will smile instead of cry, that I will see the good and not the bad.
But you know what? It's worth it. Being happy—even when it feels like the hardest thing in the world—is always better than giving into the anxiety. I wish I had the strength to do it all the time, but I haven't given up yet and nor do I intend to, though sometimes I don't even realize when I've fallen back into it again.
Just this week I was emailing a friend who has also been struggling with her writing, and I told her she needed to DECIDE to have fun. The second I wrote that, I was like, "Dude, tell that to yourself, Miss Whiner." I have been telling that to myself since then. And guess what? I'm feeling better. Not perfect, but better. Because I am stronger than I think, and I've had years of practice in the willpower department.
So as much as I hate hearing it, being positive, happy, optimistic is a choice. The choice is harder for some than it is for others—and, boy, do I know that—but in the end being a happy writer is entirely up to you. I wish you luck in getting there.