It's not always that it was FEAR dissuading me from socializing... Some of it was irritation. I used to have a terrifically short fuse. If I was around new people and they weren't interesting to me or making me laugh, I would get bored easily. It was horrifically superficial and shitty of me, but there I was. Lead a horse to water, I suppose. I was used to having a very small number of very close friends. And my close friends are still DEAR to me. Being with my sweetie-pie or being with my close friends... that recharges me. But new people... I think I've developed a richer sense for listening. Letting situations play out the way they WANT to play out. Time and time again with people, places, new ideas... If I push past the initial shock or fear or distrust, I usually like what's on the other side.
Part of it's self-sustaining, I'm sure. The more scary unknown stuff you undertake, the more scary, unknown stuff you feel capable of.