I've always had, perhaps like you, a hard time seeking out people I can build relationships with. I'm not the type of person who draws in large groups of followers, nor am I someone who wants that. I'm pretty socially awkward and I push myself everyday to be more extroverted. There's always a desire inside to slip away and be alone messing around with my computer or some game, but I fight it. When I push myself, I try to push past any fear or hesitation I have when I have someone, or a group's attention.
Like probably everyone, the thought of standing up in front of a class in school would be incredibly difficult, but to make matters worse, my heart would pound and my skin would turn splotchy red. I couldn't control it and being so very aware of it would only intensify the feeling. Fortunately it doesn't hit me as much, but it's still a behavior that I can't always control. This of course made me the target of several jokes and a ton of self loathing.
Moving beyond those feelings was the first step for me into a larger world of people that I wouldn't have otherwise been confident enough to meet. Some of the most important relationships I have in my life and most of the good things that have ever happened to me are a result of pushing myself to do something I was completely uncomfortable doing.
I still have trouble pushing myself far enough to really be comfortable in my own skin, but I've settled into a routine that keeps me uncomfortable enough that I can meet really fascinating people, people I've always dreamed of meeting and people who are just as flawed as me. That last point is important, because growing up I had always looked at everyone else as being better than me at so many things, but these days I celebrate my friends and their skills while they return the favor.
I've never cared too much for the number of friends I might have at any one time and further, I've found that a small close group of friends who challenge me are more valuable than anything else possible. My wife is a member of this gang and without her support or the support of my few other friends, I couldn't possibly be the person I am today.
We owe much to the people who care enough about us; our friends and our family. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't stop for a moment to appreciate those people.