(I didn't specify age, so I didn't follow the assignment to the letter).
Dear Past Louise,
There are so many things I want to tell you - things you will eventually find out for yourself when it's too late. I've never understood people who say that they have no regrets. I always figured that either they are lying or they have no humility or conscience. I have regrets, but I have learned a great deal from them. You will, too. Here is what I wish for you, Past Louise:
I wish that you would know that the awful feeling you sometimes get - the one that makes you turn sour and snap at everyone - is anxiety, not some devil inside of you. You are not a bad person and once you know what it is, you can work on defeating it.
That said, I hope that you can take those feelings and focus them in a different direction. And when you do, maybe you could manage not to take for granted the time you have with your family. They're not perfect, but they mean well -- and you'll regret it if they don't know how much you care. Especially know that your father has insecurities, too - and sometimes, if you take the time to understand him, you might find that you can get along better. Not always, of course - but more often. Know also that he has anxiety, too - realize that when he seems irritable for no reason, it's because of that. And finally, when you do fight with him - because there will still be fights most likely - try not to beat yourself up about it. You are young, not always wise and you do what you have to in order to stay sane and protect yourself.
Don't date anyone just because you feel like they are the only person who will ever like you - especially when all evidence points to major problems arising between the two of you within a very short time. When you go to college, you will meet plenty of people who will like you. Don't get stuck with someone who will only make you feel worse about yourself. Don't waste your time with people who can't be bothered with hygiene or consideration for others. You know who you are and you should know you don't need that.
When you do go to the city (and you can do this on your own) and you are missing people, I wish that you would not allow your sadness to overwhelm you. It's okay if grief causes you to take a break from school. But don't go back to North Carolina. That's not the answer and when you do, things are going to happen that are going to change things irreparably - at least to some degree. Instead of using the refunded money from college to move, just use some to pay your rent and save the rest. Look around for another job, since your work study has ended. Might I suggest a library? I'll bet there's one in a nearby suburb that might need shelvers. :) Keep your apartment and treasure the time you have alone to write and paint, even if your cat sometimes steps in it. And next semester, when the worst of your grief has passed, you can go back to school. You can get back on the newspaper and do everything you can to get your writing noticed.
Other things: Try to be more honest with those around you. Try to breathe and state your case instead of freezing up and not saying what you really mean. Know that it's the friends who love and accept you for who you are who are the keepers. No matter how frustrated you are with a friend, do watch what you say and don't cast stones. In regards to money, keep a log of all you spend and always round up to avoid overestimating how much you have. When it comes to health and nutrition, don't smoke (no matter how tempting that may be) and do try to cook better for yourself. Also, maybe you should get a bike.
Just remember to always protect your heart – but maybe not too much. It's good to be open to new things. If you let opportunities slip by, you may become phobic and never do those things.
I hope you have gleaned something from this letter. I wish you the best of luck.