Here’s What My Life Used to Look Like (This is Real)

They may say, those were the days. But in a way, you know for us these are the days. ~ Perry Farrell, Jane’s Addiction

I wasn’t always like this.

I didn’t always do what you see me doing now. For a long time, my life was very different than it is today.

  • I didn’t live in California, I lived in Oklahoma
  • I wasn’t in shape, I was a flabby beer-belly guy
  • I wasn’t focused, I was drunk and chaotic
  • I didn’t work for myself, I worked many 9–5 jobs

I guess you could say that my old life was “interesting”, but a better way to put it would be to say that it was much, much worse.

Going Home

A few times a year I go back to Oklahoma for business or to see family and I get to see my old world again. I always take time to drive around and see all of my old houses, hangouts and places of employment.

While doing a recent drive-around tour of a small town in Oklahoma I used to live in, I decided to pull out my phone and film it so you could see it too. [Watch the video below]

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As you can see, things haven’t always been the way they are now. I haven’t always been the guy that is writing the words you are reading today. I’ve changed drastically over time.

But I don’t always see it.

How To See Progress Over Time

Have you ever seen someone post a before and after picture of their weight loss or muscle building journey? Those photos may seem vain, but they are one of the most important parts of the process.

We live with ourselves every day and we see ourselves in the mirror multiple times per day. Because changes happen slowly we don’t realize we’re making progress at all. So we get frustrated and give up.

If you looked at your body 30 days after starting a diet and didn’t see any changes you’d quit, right?

But when you compare a photo of yourself now to one taken a year ago you’re able to see the change that has happened. It energizes you to keep going and gives you a much better chance at keeping it up long term.

It’s the same with life circumstances. It’s harder to appreciate what you’ve accomplished if you forget where you started.

Sometime I forget about my old life completely and lose appreciation of where I am today. But if I do a long-term comparison, from Dishwasher to Online Marketing Whale I see the change.

Here’s what my job timeline looked like:

  • Singer
  • Dishwasher
  • Subway Sandwich Artist
  • Door to Door Meat Salesman
  • Gas Station Employee, Night Shift
  • Tech Support / Web Design at an ISP
  • Flash Web Designer at an Interactive Agency
  • Creative Director at Ad Agency
  • Part-time SEO affiliate marketer
  • Full-time, Online Marketing Whale

If you’re unhappy with where you are now, remember. You’re not trapped, stuck, screwed or cursed. You’re probably doing better than you think. And if an uneducated, minimum wage guy like me can do it, you can too.

You’re probably already on your way.

It isn’t where you came from, its where you’re going that counts. ~ Ella Fitzgerald

  • Reid Yamamoto

    Cool look at your old ‘hood. Sometimes when I cruise through places I’ve lived it looks so different (because I’ve changed), yet so much the same. I like the story about how you got your start in the tech support job. I wonder what would’ve happened if you never took that job?

    • Malan Darras

      i’d probably be Gas Station employee of the month right now

  • Tom Mullaly

    Really interesting Malan. It’s healthy to affirm that we have progressed to a place that we’d prefer to be by reminding ourselves where we came from.

    It’s not about rejecting or belittling people who might still be in these places and I don’t think you crossed that line. It’s simply about you changing things for yourself, going to a place you’d prefer to be, literally and figuratively.

    By documenting it like this you’re inviting and encouraging others actually.

    I’m interested in how you left. The transition between leaving the Midwest and going to California. Because that’s the war so many people who’d like to get to a better place are waging: going from stuck to unstuck. In my experience those transitions aren’t usually easy or comfortable, usually the opposite.

    I know it would be a lot to share but a lot of people would be listening.

    • Malan Darras

      hey Tom, yes i may write all about that period at some point. probably in a series though because yeah it’s a lot to share. people keep asking for the story though, so i should probably do it soon’ish.

  • Jason Brown


    I want to applaud you for this post and how you have handled your blog for the past few months.

    It’s turning out great

    • Malan Darras

      thanks jason, i’m having fun

  • Zingali

    #QDP #ArrowheadMall

    • Malan Darras

      Nice hashtags man. i remember i thought arrowheadmall’s website was the bomb because it has a mouseover image that changed when you hovered… ah the innocent old days

  • PG

    Thats really inspiring Malan, thanks for sharing that. Re Tom’s post your transition from the mid west to California is one I would love to hear too

    • Malan Darras

      it’s on the todo list PG 🙂

  • Jared McGaugh

    Intellex line 1 2 and 4!!!! Brother you always had a smile and was quick to give a smile back to us all.

    • Malan Darras

      “Lines 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 are STILL HOE-DING!”

  • Edgar Ochoa

    Thanks Malan. Nice of you to share a part of your life with your readers. Very inspiring, that’s for sure.

    And you’re right. One has to remind himself of where he came from in order to appreciate the present… And the small or big victories one has achieved.

    Thanks for this reminder.

    • Malan Darras

      thanks Edgar, good to see ya

  • Jon Tam

    Thanks for keeping it real Malan. I know you kind of answer this question through all your blog posts, but what have been your greatest motivators in your life for pulling yourself out of the funk?

    • Malan Darras

      Jon, at some point I decided that I didn’t want to become an old, broke, drunk guy… I wanted to be a better person. that’s all haha

  • Ting

    Great post as always Malan. I’m always inspired to see how others progress in life. Helps me keep motivated as well.

    • Malan Darras

      thanks Ting, progress is what it’s all about

  • Cruzer

    That was kind of sad. But man, I really like your site.

  • Raviraj

    Thanks for the motivation Malan,

    I was kinda sad and depressed of something which is happening for me now, but when I look back I am happy with the progress I have made.

    Thanks a lot for helping me look back and realize where I come from.