I wouldn’t say I have social anxiety but these things definitely make me much more nervous than they should. So here is my experience so far.
I think the scheduling part in iTalki is quite convenient for someone who doesn’t enjoy these things. You can of course include a long message when you contact a tutor but if that makes it harder for you then just write “こんにちは. I just started learning ago and am looking forward to a lesson with you” or even less than that. Then don’t think about it too long, just hit submit and see if they accept it. If you got that far then you have an appointment set and at least for me that means I have to show up (just imagine the horror of writing them that I would not show up! no thanks… ) so the battle is basically won at that point.
Before my first couple of lessons I was always very nervous, it felt like I had to show up for an exam in school. There’s not logical explanation: this is just a hobby, I’m paying that person to talk to me, no one will hurt me or give me a bad grade or anything like that (not that I ever got bad grades, I spent years of my life worrying about nothing! It’s ridiculous when you think about it). It’s just how I react to situations like that. I’m tired of worrying about why that is, I’m just a bit on the emotional side and that’s how I roll, whatever. The first lesson was of course the worst but it got better every week. Maybe after around 10 lessons I was hardly nervous anymore and now after 10 months I don’t think about it at all. It’s always the same and by now I know that I will just be nervous in the beginning but after a while it will calm down, I just have to show up and wait it out.
And if it doesn’t work out and you don’t feel comfortable then you will never see that person again. But even if that happens you will have practiced speaking Japanese and getting out of your comfort zone. I try to do one thing that scares me every day – good thing is that there are a lot of things that I find scary so that’s not too hard to do
I also found it helpful that most teachers post YouTube videos of them doing a self introduction. You can get a better idea of what it might be like talking to them. It makes them a bit less of a stranger and maybe 10% less scary than a complete stranger.