Seniors should focus on their college journey, not its end

By Thaddeus Chatto

My high school English teacher was always fond of using the phrase, “coming down the home stretch.”

She would use this phrase when we were almost finished with a book. And if I remember correctly, my teacher told me its origins came from horse racing. The horses were “coming down the home stretch” when they were on the last straightaway after the final turn.

As a college senior in his final semester, this is the home stretch for me, as well as many others.

I’ve already seen several people on Facebook or Twitter saying this is their “last” something ever. And truth be told, there are going to be many “last” things this semester for us that are graduating.

For example, this is our last syllabus week ever. It’s also our last first day of class in the new semester. The list goes on and on of “last” this and “last” that.

But it is easy to get lost in the “last” pattern when the end is in sight.

I find it similar to the feeling whenever you are getting close to the end of a good book or video game. You can’t wait to see how it ends, so you start rushing through it to see what happens.

But when you begin to rush things, you tend to miss the smaller details. So, you go back through and make sure you take it a little slower this time to enjoy the full experience.

You make sure every word in the book is read and every non-player character in the game (NPC for you video game fans) is talked to.

Needless to say, you can’t do this in real life. We don’t have the ability to turn back a page to make sure we understood everything. There is no pause or save feature, and if people had the ability to respawn after they died, as they do in video games, I would just assume they were zombies. 

We’re all living by the same clock, ticking at the same pace. There are no second chances when it comes to moments like these in our lives.

When you think of it like that, then it feels like an immense amount of pressure is put on us to make sure we are making the most of it.

I get why this is important for people. It’s surreal to think that as freshmen we thought we had all the time in the world on this campus, but now we’re in our final semester. 

All of a sudden we don’t have the luxury to say, “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll do that next semester.” To get t he full experience, a sense of urgency and panic kicks in to make sure every moment of our last semester at the University is completely and 100 percent meaningful.

You might start hearing friends or peers tell you to make sure you make the most out of your time during these last few months. Live every night as if it is your last because you won’t get another syllabus week in college!

We are led to believe that we need to always be doing something special and make sure we’re getting the full college experience because we are young. There is no excuse to be lazy and relax because we have to hit up Joe’s tonight.

Honestly, it’s exhausting to think like that.

We are not machines that operate with a limitless supply of energy. We’re humans with many emotions, and we have limits to how much we can do.

The idea of these “last” events makes everything seem much more important than they actually are. It takes away the ability of living in the moment freely and has us constantly worrying that each moment is special.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in making sure every moment is memorable.

So, even though your last semester just started, it’s OK. Each moment in our lives is important, but don’t get caught up in making sure each moment is going out with a bang.

You might miss out on the other things that are happening around you.

But each person is different. Still do what makes you happy. If going out every day of the week is the ideal last semester for you, then by golly, go for it.

Personally, staying in and watching a movie with my friends is a perfect way to spend a Friday evening — surely there is a horror movie on Netflix that we have not seen yet.

Coming down the home stretch of this final semester will contain many “lasts.” But don’t get bogged down by them because as one chapter ends, a new one begins.

Thaddeus is a senior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Thaddingham.