Thank you all for your replies. I'm not overly attached to my gear and I don't actually care about losing items that are just pixels after all, although I admit that I'm a bid of a hoarder. The actual problem was that I didn't have much time at the time, so grinding good gear and then losing it in seconds was more of an issue. It felt like I wasted my time on the boring grind and missed the more fun parts of actually using that gear. And I do admit that succesfully blasting other players is way more fun than gunning down common raiders etc. Boy was it fun when a player attempted to kill me in an encounter but I barely survived and blew him to pieces instead.
That makes multiplayer games so much fun. Now I have way more time to play than I did a few months ago, so it's not completely out of the question to play on the public server too. The other issue I have is that the public server is wiped every now and then and all the progress I've made gets lost. Once again it feels like a pointless waste of time to spend countless hours of my precious spare time on leveling characters and obtaining gear, only to have it all wiped away and being back to square one again. I guess I need to learn to enjoy the ride and just have fun without an army of high-level characters and super duper gear.