How Can A Socially Awkward Woman Make Friends?

So I'm a 25 year old woman, and I dont really have a social life. I work at a gym and will be starting college in February . I moved to the area I live in now and I dont know anyone here. My friends are all in my hometown which I moved from because it was a bad neighborhood and I wanted a better life for myself. Most of my female friends and family members are too wrapped in their relationships which is why I want to make new friends. I have problems opening up to people and starting conversations. Most of the time when I do try to talk to new people I often feel as though they look at me like "who is this chick and why is she talking to me?" I used to be outgoing and would talk to anyone, but I've become very insecure with very low self esteem (due to many people calling me ugly). I don't want to be this way anymore.
A really good guy friend of mine that I've known since I was about 12 or 13 says my personality is like a free spirit. I like contact sports, I box from time to time, and video games. I like to cook and learn new recipes. I like to write, stories, or in a journal. I pretty much like to try anything once and I'm a laid back person accepting of all people through all walks of life.
I just dont know what to do. I want to be more social and I dont want to have low self esteem anymore. Any positive feedback is appreciated.
Also I would like to point out that I do plan on going to therapy for the self esteem issue because it has caused me to make bad choices in relationship, and friendships, and settle for less and I dont want that anymore either.
How Can A Socially Awkward Woman Make Friends?
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