When Spring Quarter began, I was officially a non-student, but I wanted to stay around campus to be near my friends so I stayed around. I was living in Dykstra Hall Floor 2 (co-ed residence hall) before I dropped out, but I wasn't allowed to officially stay unless I was a student. My roommates didn't care though, so even though I had to give up my key card that gave me access to my dorm room, my roommates just let me in any way.
I found other places to sleep during this quarter as well: a faculty in residence's (a professor that lives on the same residence hall floor as students with a bigger room) comfy couch, a friend's apartment's carpet off-campus, a few of my other friends' dorm rooms, and on occasion a stairwell, a community lounge, or a girl's bed.
Getting food was a bit harder since I didn't have access to dining halls anymore. The faculty in residence I was friendly with let me use his refrigerator and stove, my friends offered swipes frequently, and I ate out at restaurants.
During this quarter I also rushed Sigma Eta Pi, a co-ed entrepreneurship fraternity. It seemed fitting for me since I had just dropped out and was pursuing a similar pathway. When my bid came in, my friend that was already in the fraternity told me that the decision for my bid was very 50-50 since I wasn't a student anymore, but I did exemplify entrepreneurship.
Between rush, managing my club, and the daily activities of finding a place to sleep, eat, and shower, I was pretty busy, but I was satisfied. I was safely living in UCLA culture without being a UCLA student. I attended on-campus events, played soccer with my friends, and went to parties. Life as a dropout felt pretty normal, and I felt my transition into adult life wouldn't be a problem.
But it was.
Through my club, Sigma Eta Pi, and my general personality, I gained a decent presence around the tech/startup section of UCLA. I was slightly famous in that there were enough people that knew me when I didn't know them. A story started building up around me about this guy who dropped out of college and was going to do something big and important. For other people that didn't know me, small-talk quickly became awkward or an interrogation on my life when I answered, "I don't have a major, I dropped out of UCLA." People started treating me differently: either as a hot-shot or someone a little crazy.
At an event called Bruin Startup Fair, a career mixer for startups and UCLA students, I got my own booth as a startup because I was in Sigma Eta Pi (the frat hosted the event and just gave me a booth). I didn't have a startup, so as I walked down Bruin Walk on the day of the event I thought of what I was going to say if someone walked up to my booth. I brought a whiteboard and a marker in case I wanted to draw something.
When I arrived at my booth and students started funneling in I began a random rant/pitch on how our society had mostly solved the two bottom layers of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, but that it was time for us to start examining the third one, love and belonging. I made an argument against "identity-based" social media and said that community-based social media was going to be infinitely more important for our daily lives and well-being moving into the future. It should be possible for groups to find other groups instead of thinking about everything from the lens of an individual. I'm not sure if any of these ideas made sense, but I drew a crowd of students to me and the energy around my booth felt electric. A big stack of resumes equivalent to a college textbook landed on my table, but for what job, I'm still not sure.
On the surface my life was admirable. People often told me that they thought of me when they wanted to feel more confident or work harder. It was strange because I'd never thought of myself as having any particular talent or as being hard-working. I did my homework in the class before my next class in high school, and I had lacked confidence in most parts of my life until I worked on it in my later high school days. I felt like a completely different person from then, but I wasn't sure I liked myself enough though other people did. Sometimes I wanted to crawl into a corner and cry, but I couldn't since that's not something "Will Gu" would do. I often found myself hypothetically asking myself, "What would happen if I just stopped doing all the things I was doing?" I felt like I carried a lot of weight that I couldn't offload. No answer came back to me from my question.
The days passed like this, alternating between being praised externally and feeling lost internally. I busied myself with external activities and tried to motivate myself to move forward in my coding career, but I didn't want to. At some point, I began to feel restless, and then after that depressed. I started to wonder why I felt unhappy despite succeeding in the real-world tasks I'd set myself out to accomplish. Several years ago I had no workable skills and no love life, and now I had plenty of people that wanted to work with / be with me, but I was still unhappy. Gradually I started ignoring my work and relationships, until one day I moved to Vancouver, Canada.
- 2015, Spring Quarter
- couchsurfed around campus, worked on projects, and rushed Sigma Eta Pi. Since I was already dropped out, my bid offer from SEP was highly controversial.
- 2015, Summer
- found an apartment on 424 Veteran Avenue with a few of my college buddies.
- 2016, Spring - September
- started Prototyping club at UCLA.
- 2016, Spring - 2016, August
- moved in to my girlfriend's off-campus apartment.
- 2016, June - March, 2017
- began playing Overwatch almost 24/7.
- 2015, Fall - 2016, Winter
- began trying to figure out how to cope with the massive amount of free time and self-directed work I had to do as a result of dropping out. I'd watch my apartment mates wake up to go to school while I lounged in bed all day and rolled out well in the afternoon. Then I'd tentatively try to code and work on the projects I had in mind, but I didn't really enjoy coding so it felt more like smashing my head against a wall. I tried devising routines or systems and they all fell through and for the first time in my life, I looked at a future that seemed to infinitely expand without an end, and that scared me.