Agreed. Saying "sorry" brings out the worst in some people. If you pay attention, you'll sense a shift in the power dynamic, and some jerks out there will become more hostile, belittling, and demanding. It's better to just focus on what can be done to move things forward.
There are a few things that have helped me deal with social anxiety:
1. Talking more with people that work in stores when I'm paying for something - Cashiers are great people to practice talking to. You don't have to do it for very long, and if you say something stupid, you rarely see them anyway, so no harm done.
2. Noticing what socially adept people talk about - I think about the subject matter that social people bring up after I've seen them engage in conversation. I've realized that most of the time it's pretty trivial stuff, and that most people don't hold that against them.
3. Avoiding people that hold you back - people that often say that I'm shy, or coming out of my "shell", just make me more self-conscious and awkward. I'll end the conversation quickly with such people and will not pursue interaction beyond the bare-minimum pleasantries. Even if they are well-meaning, they have a negative effect on me, so I'll avoid them unless they are closely related.
- reduce caffeine intake; I've changed from 5 to 2 cups of coffee a day, and try not to have one after 3pm; I feel I can relax when I go home now
- exercise; I only walk 3 times a week for half an hour each time, but it has helped tremendously
- do some non-coding activities when you get home; whether a hobby or watching TV, getting away from IT and programming for awhile makes me feel refreshed the next day
- switch from Java to C# (assuming those are your only 2 options); bigger and more stressful companies tend to use Java, while the cool medium-sized companies that are pleasant to work at tend to use C#; of course there are lots of exceptions
"do some non-coding activities when you get home; whether a hobby or watching TV, getting away from IT and programming for awhile makes me feel refreshed the next day"
Cleaning the house / apartment can be very relaxing. It's a task that requires minimal thought and can be a good workout - saturday I washed our hard wood floors by hand with just a bucket of soap / water and a big sponge. 2 hours later my mind was clear as day (or I was high on the fumes from the Lysol haha)
There is a good foreign film about a doppelganger called "The Double Life of Véronique" by the great European director Krzysztof Kieślowski. It's one of the few times I've watched a foreign movie more than once.
I wish there were a Presidential candidate that would make come out strongly against these things. Left or right, I'd vote for him/her. Unfortunately, most Americans probably are not affected and thus do not care.
As Clark Howard says, it can take a lot of stress out of the equation by negotiating via email. Then they can't make you wait 30 minutes or an hour as they pretend to be talking to their boss, and you can communicate at your convenience.
> Other students were off to Hawaii for vacation. Me, I had to bum a place to stay over breaks when the dorms were closed.
So true. Having attended a few colleges in California, I got tired of everyone else going to their parent's cabin over break in Tahoe, Mammoth, or Big Bear. And the dorms would close for a week or two, so I couldn't concentrate fully on my finals while I worried about where I'd stay and not have to sleep a few nights in a park.
> never used any tutors or talked to a professor
I had a hard time talking to my professor, and I noticed others from blue-color backgrounds have difficulty as well. Upper middle-class kids never seemed to have a problem talking to their professors, which seemed to give them a significant advantage.
I worked at a place that did a stand-up once a week, and that worked pretty well. The communication between everyone was pretty good, so maybe other places that don't communicate well could not get away with that.