I pushed a lot of people out of my life and was completely unable to sort out any sort of balance between work and life. Every time I started seeing anyone it’d take about a week for someone to come to me at work and say “hey, you’re slipping.” GameSpot had a way of making you feel totally insignificant and 100% replaceable, so it won out every time there was a fight between my personal life and my work.
It wasn’t until a handful of really great people started leaving (2005 or 2006-ish, I think) that I think the people around me realized that you couldn’t just burn people out and replace them with college kids forever. That was probably around the time I cemented my feelings on the issue, anyway. Management didn’t learn that lesson, I guess. Once I got fired it was a real eye-opener to see that people seemed to actually know who I was and that I wasn’t just some discarded piece of a machine.
Not a bad ego boost, I highly recommend it if you’re prone to self-worth issues.
Anyway, I’m now confident enough in my career to know that it won’t disappear if I turn away from it for a minute. The catch is finding something worth making room for.