In this counseling answer:
“I would suggest that you begin slowly; join a few groups or clubs at school that you are interested in and start to open yourself up to making nice Islamic friends. Remember, it is quality, not quantity!”
Thank you for your important question. It is one that concerns many young people who are just starting at a university, and those who have been focused on their studies for the majority of their lives. The issue does not lie in cowardice but lies within maintaining a balance. As you did not take the time to socialize, to get to know people from different backgrounds and belief systems, you lack the social skills needed to now deal with these situations. Additionally, you seem very mature, and you have goals and aspirations which you are seeking to attain. I commend you for your insight and steadfastness in not getting caught up with foolishness. That is an admirable trait!
However, you need balance in your life which includes studying, Islamic obligations, family, friends and socializing (good times). I would suggest that you begin slowly; join a few groups or clubs at school that you are interested in and start to open yourself up to making nice Islamic friends. Remember, it is quality, not quantity! You will find, especially now that you are in a university, that friends will add much to your life in terms of support, shared commonalities as well as encouragement.
In regards to “unpleasant situations and odd people”, well, that is part of life; a part of getting experience in the world as well as a part of your growth. How you respond or learn to respond to these situations and occurrences will become more comfortable as you learn to express how you truly feel in a given situation. Apologizing when you are not wrong can be viewed as a humble and noble thing to do to keep the peace; however, you must also develop the balance to be assertive in a nice way so that your stance on certain things will be considered serious. Again, it is a balancing act!
Additionally, what you may be experiencing sounds like social anxiety (and that is related to under-socialization as well as low self-esteem). Social anxiety is common. It is a fear of interacting with others for fear of being judged incorrectly, perceived as inadequate, or seen as weak. It can cause humiliation, self-consciousness, and depression as well as avoidance behaviors. Please see this link for self-esteem tips and this link for ways to assess your social anxiety.
The good news is that these feelings and fears can be alleviated. As there are no counselors in your area, you may want to see if the university health care center offers supportive services as well as exploring online support groups and forms for social anxiety. While this is not a diagnosis, and I cannot diagnose you, these are merely tips and advice based on the information you provided. I have confidence in you that you can overcome this!
Please, let us know how you are doing. We do care! You are in our prayers.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.