Busy. Busy. Busy. It's a weird word if you break it down and really stare at it, isn't it? Four letters, two syllables and the singular word we use to convey just how overwhelmed and overbooked we are.

In the close-knit environment of our dear university's walls, every time we see someone we know our greeting is almost always a "Hey!" followed by the almost automatic "How are you?"

We pride ourselves on southern hospitality, yet when we wait to hear the response, it is often not quite so nice.

Most of the time our answers are one of three: we lie and say "good" even if we aren't good, tell the truth and say "good," or the mother of all answers – "good, really busy," then usually accompanied with a sigh or a long description of all the things on our plate for the rest of the day.

When reading a "Harvard Business Review" article on this conversational norm, I was struck (LINK: http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/09/please-stop-complaining-about/). I am so guilty of this. For you other college kids out there with the looming final papers, last-minute summer job applications and everything else in between, I bet my bottom dollar you are, too.

Let's break down the word itself first – is it a suitable answer to the question? When it is used as an adjective, it signifies "having a great deal to do," and when used as a verb it means "to keep occupied." But neither of these definitions involves a feeling. We seem to have evolved the word into what other words mean – it is something like a combination of tired, stressed and inundated with work all put into one word.

So when we respond that we are "really busy," what are we really conveying to people? Think about it.

Maybe sometimes it is that we're so busy and overwhelmed it is the only word we think can truly convey how we feel. It is what we wake up to in the morning and go to bed to at night, and this constant business is our state of being.

If that is true, then should we not move past it and answer with the other feelings that permeate our everyday busy lives? Maybe being busy makes you feel fulfilled; I know tons of people, including myself, who love being busy and thrive on it. It's a little much sometimes, but really we secretly love it. Others of us become stressed by the constant drain on our time and focus.

Yet, these feelings are still not how we answer the elusive question. So then maybe we answer "busy" because it is how we are supposed to answer. The glorification of busy has become the norm. It seems we say "busy" because it is socially acceptable, and also because we are consciously or unconsciously stating how much busier we are than whomever we are talking to.

We are proud of our busyness. It means we have a constant whirlwind of activity, always have places to go, people to see, and not much time for anything else. If others are not as involved as we are, we look down on them. Seeing how much we can continue to pile on our plates and still come out on top of everything from our grades to our social status to our jobs has become the new commodity in the college market.

If you can't keep up, then you're not doing it right. And according to other recent articles that have cropped up, it certainly doesn't end after college.

It should go without saying we all need some time for ourselves in this crazy world. So make it happen. Slow down. And while you're at it, analyze how you use the word "busy."

Because you are busy – I get it. But maybe the next time I ask, tell me how you really feel.

Victoria Knight is a senior in microbiology. She can be reached at vknight4@utk.edu.