I was an innately lazy kid, but my mom learned to motivate me with money. If I scored 100% on tests, she would reward me with extra allowance. As I continued to do well, I became known as the "star student" in my elementary school classes. It felt good… so good that after a few years, I didn't need any more money to motivate me to do well. I was becoming addicted to the feeling of accomplishment.
This continued into high school and college. I became addicted to the feeling of getting ahead of everyone else in school. I would start bringing meals back to my dorm and bringing notes to the dining halls so that I could squeeze in study time while eating. On a superficial level, it looks like a really good "problem" to have because I was a high-achiever in school. However, I neglected relationships with my family and friends in order to get ahead, and this set the stage for future problems.
A huge turning point for the worse occurred during my third year of medical school. I was chasing after a girl who had a boyfriend (yes, I realize now how terrible that was on so many levels). I really thought I loved her (yes, I realize how stupid I was), and I inevitably got my heart crushed to the point where I couldn't get out of bed for days. I nearly failed one of my medical school rotations because of the emotional trauma, so I decided then never to let another girl get in the way of my career ever again (I know, it's a series of very healthy decisions).
From that point on, I blocked off my heart to everyone I dated. I refused to let them in to the point where I could potentially get hurt like I did before. My career became my priority, and it often required 80+ hours of focus from me each week. I dated girls for a bit of companionship, but mostly for sex. When they complained about wanting more time from me, I dropped them. I hated the nagging from my mom as a kid, and I wasn't about to put up with it from them.
This continued into my relationship with Jewelz. However, she was different. She was patient with me and gave me all the time I needed to get my work done. I took advantage of it. I would spend the weekend at her and her parents' place and spend 10+ hours each day studying, sometimes taking an hour break each day to focus on her. Still she struggled to be patient with me. Underneath, she starved for my focused time and attention, which eventually contributed to our breakup.
The Turning Point
When I became Christian and read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, I learned a fundamental principle that changed everything about how I structured my priorities. Time is the most valuable thing you have in life, so focused attention is the greatest gift you can give anyone. I had placed an unhealthy and unsustainable amount of focus on my career, and although I excelled in that area of my life, I suffered in all other areas. I didn't spend time with friends. I didn't build my relationship with family members. I didn't have time to exercise or read. I didn't give the love of my life the time and attention that she deserved, especially when she had given up so much to be with me.
Residency is busy. It requires sacrifice from both the resident and their spouse. However, no one is THAT busy to not make any time for their significant other. YOU are ultimately responsible for how you choose to spend your time, and I chose extra studying, PokemonGo, reading up on politics, etc. over spending quality time with Jewelz. In marriage, you will have to choose to make time for the relationship regardless of how busy you think you are in order to keep it healthy and help it grow. The alternative is to let it wither and die. I won't make that mistake again.
In addition, I try to remind myself that a career is not the defining purpose of my life. Careers can end in an instant. Any injury could render me unable to operate forever. I was also faced with a scenario in my 4th year of medical school where I didn't match into any General Surgery residency program. Everything I had worked for since I was a kid was going down the drain. I may never have become a surgeon. Because I had based my entire worth on my academic success up until that point, my whole world was ripped from underneath me.
This scenario happens to many people because they place money, careers, family, etc. at the very top of their priorities in life. None of these things are permanent, and they will all eventually collapse. Money runs out, careers end, and people die/make mistakes/don't become who you want them to be/etc. Everlasting happiness comes only from making something permanent the foundation of your life. The only one who can fill that role is God.
Don't place your career ahead of God. When I incorrectly prioritized anything above God in my life, everything else fell apart. Faith would have kept me strong during the two darkest years of my life after not matching until God would finally reveal that I was meant for Plastic Surgery instead. Faith would have instructed me to love Jewelz with all of my heart in order to please God. Now that I've reorganized the priorities in my life, I couldn't be happier, and I have the opportunity to build something much greater than I did before. Something that lasts forever.