Well, this isn’t Niantic’s problem. If you really want them, try it once; I joined a raid group and I was nervous the first time, but it turned out to be fine and now I know every person.
If you feel uncomfortable going alone, bring a friend with you. They make things better and less awkward (personal experience; this is what happened to me!)
Regarding the other half of your post: I do understand your struggle, because I go through the same thing. But, as @Larian has said, give the Ingress method a go and see if that changes your situation.