Newbie - needs help with last stitch

Hi all! I am brand new knitter. I started a shawl project with some ladies in church. Right now I am working a part that calls for 44 stitches of knit, purl, knit, purl, etc. I had an inch done sitting with friends and then messed up at home and tore it all out. I have cast on, (using the long tail method), but now when I get to the last stitch in the first row, it is just a loop and I don’t know what to do with it.

What I am doing wrong? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Knit or purl it according to wherever you are in the pattern; sometimes the st at the end of the row is a bit larger, but it evens out after you knit more and you wash or block the item. If that’s not what you mean, a picture will help.