This is a "toughie"!! Building self-esteem and overcoming shyness doesn't usually happen overnight... but lots of people do it all the time so you can do it too. First think i think, is to get over the importance of appearancs - physical beauty IS only skin deep, and "ugly" is just a concept: to many people, including most of the ones who REALLY count in life, there is no such thing as an "ugly" or unattractive person: true or real beauty comes from inside, and isn't related at all to how you look on the outside!! People who are only attracted to physically fantastic folks, are usually shallow, uncommited, flighty and not the kind of people you would want as friends in the first place. People who can see beyond the surface, and who don't measure or judge someone on how they look...... THEY are the true gems who can become REAL friends instead of just acquaintances or people you know. // From the tone of your letter, it seems to me that you are the kind of person many would like to get to know better: you are aware of what's going on in your life, and motivated to improve what needs working on: that's a big plus, and the kind of thing that many folks find quite attractive!! You are also quite articulate, which is another great point. I am short on time here, but let me also say that i really like your smile - it is warm and looks genuine, not forced or aritificial. Some say that eyes are the windows of the soul, but to me it is a person's smile, and yours is delightful.
Anyway, short of going into therapy, which is expensive and usually not that cost-effective, i would suggest just learning to relax in social situations, and don't sweat physical appearances - in the end it is WHO you are on the inside that attracts the best kind of people to you, not what you look like.
From Sunny New Scotland with the very Best of Wishes,