It’s finally here. The time I’ve dreamed about since my first day of freshman year has now become a reality, I’ve started my final semester of college, of school, forever.

I’ve imagined what my last semester would be like hundreds, if not thousands of times, and I had done my best to make it as much like my dreams as possible. I’ve long anticipated the feeling of glorious victory inching closer to my reach, the surge of energy coming from the fact that I’ve just about won. It’s like the last ditch sprint one begins as they round the final turn in a marathon and see the finish line in the distance.

But the thing is, I’ve never run a marathon, and that feeling is complete bullshit.

Far from a victory lap, the final semester of college is more like a slow, tired slog one suffers through when they’re lost in the woods, a situation I actually am familiar with.

The sun’s going down and you’re running out of water, and you hope to find a road before darkness comes and you’re forced to spend the night in the cold like a lonely penguin (I like penguins) hoping some bear doesn’t decide to make an easy meal out of you.

In reality, after nearly twenty years of school, the final semester of college is one of the most stressful things you will have to endure. It’s not necessarily because of classes, or schedules or work, although those things might all be factors. It’s because of you.

Life as you know it is rapidly coming to an end. The days of absorbing information in a classroom are almost over, and it’s time for you to grow up and join the real world. But learning is exhausting. In my personal experience, it’s more tiring (though far less repetitive and tedious) as a full time job.

Collecting and processing the information from all the various subjects we study in college is the mental equivalent of a hard work out, it takes a toll on you, but it makes you a better person in the long run. The problem is that there isn’t a cool down period (for me anyway) at the end of college. Right after stumbling out of the woods onto that road, I still have to follow it on the mysterious and indefinite journey that is job hunting.

The result of my looming second challenge is what has affectionately been referred to as “senioritis.”

This feeling of absolute apathy and laziness is the student’s equivalent of a hiker’s body telling him, “You’ve reached the road; it’s safe to sit down and rest a while.” Unfortunately, this is far from true.

Reaching the road to graduation is not the same as reaching graduation itself. In fact, you’re just about to reach what could be considered the hardest part, the desperate march down the road until some sort of civilization is found.

Please don’t see the point of this column as a message of bleakness though. In many ways, it’s the exact opposite. The final part of my trek to graduation may be tough, but it is also far more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. I’m already starting to see the fruits of my hard work, and even though I’m fighting myself tooth and nail through these last few months, it was all worth it.

I’m not going to dash across my finish line with outstretched arms making the “V” for victory. Rather, I’m going to take it one step at a time and conquer my demon, and when it’s finally over, I’m going to look back on it all with pride.