TEEN
05/29/2013 03:06 pm ET

Introverted Personalities: Hey, It's OK If You're A Little Bit Shy

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We live in an extroverted world, and it can be difficult to navigate if you have a quieter or more introverted personality. Not all of us need to be the center of attention, and some enjoy listening and observing just as much as being active and talkative. But unfortunately, introversion is a commonly underrated personality trait, and it can be easy to feel misunderstood if you're shy or quiet by nature.

It's estimated, however, that somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of the general population are introverts. So even if it seems like everyone else is a chatty Kathy while you're sitting on the sidelines, you're certainly not alone. In a high school social scene dominated by extroverts, many introverts may pretend to be the life of the party when really they'd rather just go home and curl up with a book.

Although our culture tends to favor assertive, extroverted personality traits, there are so many wonderful and special things that come along with being quiet. Scroll through the list below for five reasons that being introverted isn't so bad -- and why it could actually be one of your greatest strengths.

1. You're In Good Company.

Countless famous visionaries, from Albert Einstein to Charles Darwin to Gandhi to J.K. Rowling, describe themselves as introverts. Even legendary performers that we tend to think of as extroverts, like Marilyn Monroe and Lady Gaga, say that they're shy and introverted off-stage.

Gaga admits that she's often shy and insecure when meeting new people, and her former manager has said that she was "painfully shy" in her early teens. But when she's with her friends or people she shares interests with, Gaga says she feels totally comfortable.

"I might not be shy with people that I know but with people that I don't know I am very shy," Gaga told Hollyscoop.com. "I generally really keep to myself and I am focused on my music. But when I do meet people that I have lots in common with it goes really well. I always feel shy in the Hollywood scene. I feel a bit like I did in high school, like I don't really fit in."

2. Introverts Can Still Be Good Friends.

Just as Gaga's shyness doesn't keep her from having strong connections with others, being an introvert doesn't mean that you don't enjoy being around people or having close friendships. Introverts can be wonderful friends because they're often observant and good listeners, and they put a high value on the close relationships that they've carefully cultivated. It's better to try to be a good friend than to try to be everybody's friend.

So if you're struggling to accept your own quiet nature, remember this: Whether you're introverted or extroverted is thought to be determined by whether you restore your energy from being around people, or being alone. It doesn't have anything to do with being unfriendly, unpopular, socially awkward, or stuck-up -- and it usually doesn't come with any of those qualities.

3. You Can Enjoy Your Time Alone.

Life is a balance of time spent alone and time spent with others, and many introverts have an easier time being alone and enjoying their solo time than an extrovert might. This can be a huge advantage for introverted types.
Purposeful solitude allows time for creativity and self-reflection, not to mention that alone time has been linked to increased concentration and improved academic performance. Some studies have even suggested that spending time alone can lower the risk of depression among adolescents. Even if others try to tell you it's "weird," you should never feel ashamed or apologetic for being alone but not lonely.

4. Introverts Are Great Thinkers.

Introverts can be highly creative, inventive and intelligent. They like to spend time formulating ideas, problem-solving, observing and listening, and gathering information. In the view of Atlantic writer Jonathan Rauch, introverts are no less than "more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts."

Susan Cain, author of "Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking," also argues that introverts frequently possess great intellectual and creative abilities.

"Some of our greatest ideas, art, and inventions -- from the theory of evolution to van Gogh's sunflowers to the personal computer -- came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there," Cain writes in a Huffington Post blog.

5. Being Shy Doesn't Mean Being 'Painfully' Shy.

There are different types of shyness, and being shy isn't necessarily a negative thing at all. If you feel that your shyness is holding you back, there are resources that can help you become more comfortable around others. But if you're an introvert who can comfortable navigate between your inner and outer worlds, know that there's nothing wrong with you. You don't have to be loud and proud to be happy and successful, or as Cain puts it, "“Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.”

Tell us: Are you an introvert? How did you learn to love your quieter side? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet @HuffPostTeen.

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