We've demonstrated before that, even according to science, being a teenager sucks. So one could logically assume that if being a normal teenager sucks, then being a shy teenager must be even worse. But if we ever got the chance to go back in time to visit our lonely teenage selves ... well, first off we'd deal them an epic backhanded mouthslap (butterfly effect be damned). But once they recovered, we'd tell them to keep their chin up, because ...
Adolescence is the period in everyone's life where the idea of sex metamorphoses from a mysterious concept to an uncomfortable and alarming reality to a baited hook perpetually hanging above your head. And high school thrives on that shit. If high school's social ladder were representative of the real world, every world leader would be required to submit a detailed banging history in order to cement his qualification for the job.
"Franklin Kimble: Right in the asshole."
In such a hypersexualized environment, it's easy to get depressed when your crushes are less than receptive to your charms (or, in the case of your average shy teenager, your lack thereof). It feels like you're failing some crucial self-defining test, every single day. But if you look at the long term, you're passing with flying colors -- because as it turns out, having sex later than most people might in fact be better for you.
A study done by the University of Texas found that people who lost their virginity late (defined in the study as older than 19) tended to attain a higher level of education, a higher income, and, yes, a greater level of relationship satisfaction during adulthood than those who lost their virginity at an average (15 to 19) or early (before 15) age.
"I waited until I was 30. Now, my executive position allows me to fuck entire communities."
Possible explanations include more selective partner choices, avoiding negative adolescent relationship experiences, and our personal favorite: "Individuals who first navigate intimate relationships in young adulthood, after they have accrued cognitive and emotional maturity, may learn more effective relationship skills than individuals who first learn scripts for intimate relationships while they are still teenagers."
In other words, while the other kids are learning how to fumble their way into each other's pants around the same time they're under the impression that "showing respect" is a synonym for "aggressive posturing," you get to learn about all that sex stuff later -- when you're actually emotionally competent enough to handle it.
"I'm gonna give you a big push so you can go on your own for a bit. I have to rub one out real quick."
And if your problem is that you're too shy, we need to clear something up ...
Shyness is the curse of every teenager wishing to have anything like a normal social life. That unfounded anxiety when talking to people, the debilitating reluctance to speak up -- if minds were rock stars, shyness turns yours into the uncredited bass player, while everyone else's is friggin' Jim Morrison, man. And the worst part is there's no upside -- in no way will being shy ever be of benefit to you. After all, it's not like being popular stops counting once you enter the workplace, or that a fear of human contact is ever going to suddenly become attractive to sex partners.
"That is so hot. Shut the door and just yell at me through the keyhole, baby."
Well, we have good news: A study in 2007 had subjects provide information pertaining to shyness, love attitudes, and their current relationship status, and analysis showed that a person's level of shyness had no bearing on whether or not he or she was romantically involved. If someone's shy, there's always someone else who's more than willing to make the first move.
One thing to note, however, is that shyness was correlated with two types of romantic styles: "storge" (affectionate love that develops from friendship) and mania (the obsessive, possessive kind of love that creepy people express by secretly collecting hair samples). So just keep in mind that if you fall into the shy camp and one day you happen to find yourself branding your betrothed's name onto your neck, it may be time to start reconsidering your views on love. In the meantime, there's another benefit to shyness: a little thing called sensory processing sensitivity.
It is the means by which you shall exact your terrible revenge upon them all.
Never heard of it? Well, it's a personality trait characterized by sensitivity to stimuli of any kind, including social and emotional cues. If you're shy, there's a good chance you have it, and SPS is fucking awesome. Individuals with SPS report having richer, more complex inner lives than others, and are better equipped to notice subtleties in their environment. Studies have found that SPS and the personality traits closely linked to it (which are, for the record, shyness, behavioral inhibition, and introversion) are correlated with a whole laundry list of effects that sound increasingly like the definition of spider-sense as you check them off: greater awareness of subtle stimuli, more attentional vigilance, and greater sensory reactivity.
More importantly, scientists decided to chuck some heads into an fMRI machine while their owners performed visual- and attention-based tests. Results: The brains belonging to people with SPS showed far greater activity than anyone else's in a whole bunch of areas involved with high-order visual processing. Add it all up, and you have to wonder why there aren't bald guys starting up Schools for Shy Youngsters while senators busily pen the Shy People Registration Act.
"Ma'am, we've been informed that there may be shy people in the building. We must evacuate immediately."
And if you're still envious of those popular girls who are constantly surrounded by a dozen chattering BFFs, you should know that ...
Let's say you're a teenage girl. And, while all the other girls are busy complaining about which guy absolutely failed to notice their new haircut or whose parents can go eat the biggest bag of dicks, you prefer to keep your complaints to yourself. After all, they're your problems, why should you be expected to share them with everyone else? While this line of reasoning seems sound to you, the other girls probably treat you in ways that would have been edited out of Mean Girls for being too over the top.
"I threw a jar of live pubic lice at her in the gym showers. Now she has crabs. What a whore."
Well, it turns out that science is right there on your (shy) side. Back in 2011, some researchers at the University of Missouri decided to find out how "co-rumination" -- talking with friends about each others' problems -- was viewed by adolescent girls and boys, and how much of an impact it had on their well-being. First and foremost, they discovered that guys generally viewed the activity as a waste of time, a tidbit that we've swept straight into the "well duh" bucket.
Girls, on the other hand, took part in co-rumination at roughly the same frequency as they did in breathing. More importantly, however, is the effect that co-rumination had on the girls who participated in it: They were far more likely to develop issues with depression and anxiety than the girls who were less social.
"How about you sit here, quietly, and then get the fuck over it?"
Professor Amanda Rose, the research leader, stated her belief that many girls talk about their problems at an unhealthy rate, which increases the amount of time they spend focused on said problems, which makes the problems seem much worse than they actually are, and so on, until their insides have boiled up into a sticky, miserable ball of funk.