When I first started playing Dungeons & Dragons it was with a group of high school friends. We did not do much role-playing; we just had fun encounters and interesting characters. That changed when I went to college.
Being a shy person it is tough to incorporate yourself into a group regardless of the situation. It is even tougher when you trying to act like a different person.
I got through this by playing myself.
Where I started
I picked the class that best represented me and chose skills that I have in real life. This way you can have fun and still be in your comfort circle. Eventually I had to start playing other people after all it is not a role-playing game if you play yourself. The easiest thing I could do was to change my alignment. That way I still had my skills and personality just the alignment would dictate actions I would take.
Eventually I moved to classes I did not consider part of my personality. I was still having trouble being myself around the group of players is playing with so instead of making a new personality I copied one.
I copied a character from a TV show I liked. Using their beliefs, their mannerisms and how they would act. This let me play someone else without having to make a whole new character from scratch.
Moving on from that was hard
I was a dungeon master for years at this point. That might seem strange because I was making interesting and new characters for my campaigns but having trouble playing a single one in someone else’s.
There is a difference between characters you make as a DM in a character you make as a player
Characters you make as a DM do not have to be as in-depth usually the whole back story will never be told and they will not see as much screen time as a player’s character. When you are playing a character, you are that character all the time you’re always interacting with other NPC’s and player characters as that character.
I continued to grow
There was a course I took in college that was a general course but did have a profound impact on me. This may be strange to talk about it here at one of the lessons was how to overcome your fears and break out of your shell.
I was doing this slowly, changing my alignment and copying other characters. This by far was the best thing for me to do to start overcoming my shyness into play characters I wanted to. It is extremely hard to go from being introvert to playing a character that’s the life of the party. I still can’t.
What you can do is with every new character you make, take one step out of your comfort zone and eventually you’ll leave the zone you thought you can never leave behind.
It’s a process that can be done overnight. Being with friends will help a lot more than being with strangers. I am at a point now where in addition to mannerisms which is when the easier way to distinguish your character, I can do voices.