Being alone isn't such a bad thing – sometimes, you need it in order to get yourself together.

This fall break, instead of traveling with friends to joyous and scenic destinations or returning to my hometown, I stayed behind on campus. Numerous times, I was offered the opportunity to travel and immerse myself into the fun of spending time with friends and family.

However, I declined.

Most of my friends would consider it unusual, as many people think of me as the "social butterfly" who relishes the chance at meeting friends, new and old, and making memories, big and small, alongside them.

From their point of view, the fact that I know so many people on campus is shocking, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them were also a bit envious of me. To not want to go out and be with friends, though, would shock them more.

I'll admit – I love being around others. I have no hesitation in striking up a conversation with a random person, even if the atmosphere might be somewhat uncomfortable to others. However, as much of an extrovert as I am, there are moments where I instead prefer the absence of others' company, and blend myself into the crowd as an anonymous, everyday student here at UT.

In these moments of solitude, I give some time to myself. I don't want to give off the connotation that I dislike my roommates or my friends, but with a lot less people in my apartments and on campus, I finally have time alone to myself.

Of course, just like many of you did over the break, I indulged in some well-needed, all-night gaming sessions, but I also set some time aside to think about and confront things that I've neglected all semester. It wasn't just about relaxing – it was to gauge my motivation, and see how I could possibly keep it intact and ready for the rest of the semester.

One of the high points of this temporary detachment from others is that there's a lot less pressure on you, especially in regards to social obligations and standards. When you're with others, whether it's blatantly stated or hidden, there are certain ways that people expect you to act, and it gets even more complicated when you're interacting with people from different backgrounds and ideals.

Though I try to be myself regardless of who I talk with, I inevitably find myself morphing to their expectations. You can easily find yourself somewhat lost and hesitant to talk to others, along with an inability to independently think and act – you're just stuck going with the flow and the preconceived thoughts of others.

When you're by yourself, you can break free from such entangling concepts and relax however you want, even through some embarrassing yet still fun singing or dancing.

When others say they need some time to think alone, or seem to be acting in such a way that conveys that message, let them sort things out on their own for a while. It's not that they hate you or are depressed – they just need to take a break from the difficult and often chaotic lives we have in college.

Jan Urbano is a senior in biological sciences. He can be reach at jurbano@utk.edu.