I'm in my early 30s in the US and have been suffering loneliness for a long time and try to attend more social events, but I found myself having difficulty carrying conversations with strangers especially when there are two of us meeting each other for the first or recurring times in social events (e.g. church). I know that I shouldn't use close-ended questions that result in 'yes' or 'no' answers, so I resort to open-ended questions starting with 'What, when, where, how, and why', yet the conversation feels more of a "ask a question, answer a question" format, which appears awkward like I'm interviewing someone.
By the way, I consider myself a secretive person and have a humiliating past who does not prefer to talk much or share personal life details (because they are humiliating) but prefer to focus on matters surround the social event if I talk to others (e.g., what's your name, how do you like this social event, how long have you been attending this social event, what else do you do besides attending this social event...etc). However, the conversation quickly runs dry and I feel like I have to find another question to ask to keep the conversation going and the other person just answers my question after question.
Eventually, I feel this approach is awkward and sense that the other person also feels my approach is awkward through their body language (stare away when I looked at them, puts personal objects between us, quickly leaves when they see their other friends) when I meet and try to talk to them again in the same social event (e.g. church).
As a side note, I'm an introverted person who prefers to spend time alone learning things rather then spending time doing group work because I feel my time alone is more worthy than spending time meeting others because I can all focus on my personal growth (I highly value personal growth). But spending time alone has also exacerbated my loneliness who is difficult to bear and I've tried to attend more social events to alleviate this loneliness, yet I have difficult time carrying a conversation with others and since it's difficult, I have resorted back to spending time alone and this has exacerbated my loneliness and the vicious cycles continues. Any help or suggestions?