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Certain parts of your story hold true for me too and I'm trying to figure out what to do. I'm also a female and might be less attractive than average (the super skinny body type is not considered pretty anymore)

In school I wasn't super social, but I had enough friends to not feel lonely. Mostly girls. In elementary school I was practically mute because if I didn't have a friend present, I would freeze, much like you. In middle school and high school I grew out of it somewhat, I was able to have normal conversations in more "free form" classes like gym and art class. In English and math and history and stuff like that though, still pretty silent because socializing isn't encouraged, so I just didn't. I suppose to some I was known as the quiet girl, and to some I was the girl who didn't shut up. It really did depend on the class. Odd huh?

In high school I think I grew out of the quiet girl persona as I made more of an effort to socialize and had a friend group with guys and girls.

Where your story holds most true is pretty recently, my college years. I moved states so I lost all my friends, then befriended a guy in my art class who introduced me to his friends. It was a nice mixed gender group of dnd and gaming nerds but due to it being more guys, the guys would seek me out and befriend me effortlessly, but of course they had ulterior motives. It led to years of me hanging out with these guys one on one, and on some level it was probably a genuine friendship, but sometimes they wouldn't stop putting me on a pedestal or trying to hit on me. I decided to cut them out of my life, not out of dislike, but because it was wrong to keep them around. Plus, I have a partner now (who actually acts just like i do when im confident, so seeing him socially suceed makes me think damn, i could be like that if i didnt restrict myself), I don't need to be hanging out with people trying to pursue me. I'm trying to make female friends but aside from a few in me and my partners friend group, I don't know where to find them.

What you experience in groups, I experience in formal settings. So work and school. If it's meetups, friend groups, all that, I'm still kinda quiet but I always pipe up with the witty commentary or some other out of pocket remark. Really the only time I've made work friends was if the topic of gaming came up or if they were an interested guy.

I think you should try to start with small talk in groups, ask individual people questions until you find a common interest. Also maybe try to work your way into your girl friends friend groups. Maybe having a friend there will make you more confident
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