One of the most eye-opening things about leaving the debaucherous playground that was college is the expectation that you immediately have to become an upstanding member of society. This means a complete 180-degree switch from unbridled deviancy to overt maturity, sometimes in as little as a few weeks. One of the true ways to tell that you are becoming a member of the real world is how you decorate your room/apartment/house. There are three distinct stages that everyone will go through, some at a slower pace than others, but I digress.
This was how you decorated everywhere you lived as an undergrad. Pulp Fiction posters, every alcohol-themed decoration known to man, stolen street signs, and a gratuitous amount of American flags cover every inch of the walls. Every article of furniture you have was either picked up off someone’s curb on trash day or bought off Craigslist. So, congratulations on not getting SARS or murdered. The place is a shithole, but no one cares, because that’s what is expected of 18-22 year olds. Depravity is the name of the game, and you wear that distinction like a badge of honor. There are more fist-sized holes in the drywall than framed pictures. Revel in this lifestyle, because it goes by in a figurative and literal blur.
Your shoebox of a basement studio apartment is absolutely barren. The only furniture you have is an IKEA bed, a mini-fridge, and a foldout table with a microwave on it. The walls are bereft of any and all decorations, save for your trusty American Flag hanging above your bed. Your mother destroyed all of the glorious posters, signs, and souvenirs that you collected at college while you were still recovering from your graduation day hangover. The paint is flaking off the walls and you’re pretty sure it’s lead based on top of that. You’re absolutely terrified to bring any girls you meet back there for fear they judge you for living like a Neanderthal.
Decent Member of Society
You’re generally proud to show your apartment or house off to your parents. Hell, to your grandparents, even. You have hardwood floors, a matching kitchen set of table and chairs (and on that point, a real kitchen!), and a bed you didn’t have to build yourself. Everything that is hanging from the wall has a frame on it. You even managed to go to a few estate sales and get some pretty cool sailboat paintings and a globe. The pictures on the wall are level and properly spaced. You even managed to match your drapes to the throw pillows on your couch. This is how you know you are officially an adult. You no longer leave empty beer cans and pizza boxes around for days on end, partially because you don’t want to leave a ring on the coffee table, and partially because you don’t buy cans any more. Look around your place when you get home. You can tell a lot about where you are in this great adventure of life by how you treat your living space. If you see a stack of magazines and coasters on the coffee table and a dishwasher in the kitchen, then you know you’ve made it.