First and foremost, congratulations!!

High school is really an interesting time in our lives. It teaches us a lot about who we are and hints at who we will be. Keep evolving. Keep pushing.

1. Your next move is yours and yours alone.

There are so many options for young people post high school. The military, college, trade school, and the general workforce all offer us something. Some people even mix the two by attending college part time whilst upholding a demanding job. However, all of the options are your options. You may not know at 18 what you would like to be doing at 50. Even if you think you do, sometimes you just absolutely do not know. That is okay.

Start with what you do know. What would you like to do now? Take that step. Follow your heart. Listen to advice, but listen to yourself first and foremost.

2. Learn to balance.

No matter what type of progress you choose, you need to learn balance. Trying to live life, study, work hard, travel, pay expenses, and altogether stay on top of things can be hard.

Luckily, the majority of us carry around miniature computers in our back pockets. Use it! Your phone can set reminders of when a bill or assignment is due. You can use the calendar to keep track of midterm days or special events. Also, downloading apps is also an option to help with budgeting, enrichment, self-care, and becoming involved.

3. Try new things.

You have spent the last 12 years of your life under the rule of school, the monotony of your home town, and all the limitations common to you. You owe it to yourself to try new things. Maybe try food from a different region or go to an event hosted by a culture you don't identify with. Check out some museums and learn about new things. Go see movies you weren't allowed to see or stay out past a time you previously were not allowed.

Rules are created with good reason. But if you have good sense, you can break a few rules.

4. Network.

Networking is a crucial component for bettering your life. Whether it's in college, on the job, or even on your travels, connecting to a group of people is critical for advancement. Often people say, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Our world proves that every day when we fill out applications asking us to list references of people that are "credible." You cannot look at someone and tell who is a CEO, doctor, or maybe your next boss. Treat everyone with respect, but most of all, network!!

5. Learn that all you need is you.

We all love the people we grew up around, right? (Remember, you don't have to like someone to love them!) We've spent years getting to know them, and during a change such as this, clinging to whatever is familiar can seem like the right thing to do.

Some of us like to follow others. Maybe it's their charisma or charm or just maybe they've been there for us when no one else has. Although all of that is great, we cannot power up from someone else's charge. See it this way: an iPhone and a Samsung can use the same wifi system, but they cannot both use the same charger. It is the same way with school. Our grade school years are our wifi. Our next step is our charger, gearing us up for the rest of the world.

Do not go to school based on where your friends are going. Do not go to school just because you think others won't support you. Do not let your parents' wishes drive you to another school. Boys, do not feel like going to school is "lame" or not manly enough. Do not limit yourself to a junior college. Do not go to a university if you do not feel ready. And lastly, do not stay in the same place. It does not matter if you feel behind in work, school, or life in general, keep moving. Your pace is your pace. Your field is your field. In 50 years, the opinions you're listening to most likely will not matter anymore. The only earthly approval you will ever need is your own.