Good read and can also relate to it like I'm sure many people can. I started XI when I was 14 and, like you, didn't know what an MMO had to offer as it was my first one and I purely bought it on the Final Fantasy name it held. Oh, boy... was that ever a mistake. I don't know if it was because I was 14 years old or what, but damn, I got addicted hard. I started faking illness to get the day off school to play, then outright just stating that I wasn't going. After a while I realised I'd got so far behind my school work that every time I attempted to actually go I had some form of panic attack outside the gates. Long and similar story short; I love FFXI (still) but if I could go back... I would burn it.
Thankfully, I'm typing this in the 2nd year of my Computer Science degree so it didn't turn out too bad in the end. This is always where I wanted to end up and, although I'm performing rather poorly, it's due to my lack of enjoyment of the course rather than an MMO lol.
See You Space Cowboy