One of the things that lets me be strongest as a roleplayer and writer, I think, is the fact that my brain is constantly running "what if?" scenarios. Some are as mundane as "what if I have a bagel instead of a power bar tonight?" Others are as complex as "what's my escape plan if the zombie apocalypse happens and I'm at my condo complex?"
Sometimes I wish I could turn them off. Lately, I've been wondering about what if's involving high school and college. I wonder, if I had gone to the high school most of my junior high friends had gone to, if I'd be the same person. A girl I was maybe sorta friends with on in junior high (okay, I also had a crush on her back then and avoided her despite kinda being friends with her because of it, I was a stupid child in some ways) is now a comic artist/colorist for DC, after having been one for Marvel and Top Cow. I wonder if I had gone to high school with her if that connection would have been something I could have given a chance and if that it would have given me a chance at writing in those places. Interestingly, most of my friends now had friends at that high school and it's entirely possible I could have ended up hanging out with the same people for the most part. Almost undoubtedly I would have had a broader friend group than I did through high school and college. I suspect my confidence level would be much different.
Similarly, a... Friend? Acquaintance? Is there a word for "know him too well to be acquaintances but weren't friends?" Anyways, he's going to be starring in Agents of SHIELD this fall. If I had chosen to become better friends with him, would I be talking to someone who could show my writing to Joss Whedon (yeah, yeah, nerdgasm)? I think that would change who I am less, honestly. I was way more formed at the end of high school than junior high, which is hopefully the way with most folks. But the concept intrigues me.
In any event, I think this is a key facet of why I can roleplay or write well (at least in my own opinion). Not only do I contemplate what if's for myself, but for my characters. Over and over until I know them like I know myself, and can anticipate the decisions they might make.