By Zzzahkia Burnley, 15, King Drew Medical Magnet HS
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Zzzahkia believes that if you stay organized, you should be successful.

I’m a clean fiend. My sister’s the messy one. So sharing a room has been frustrating.

If you were to open my drawers, you’d see shirts with shirts, pants with pants and everything folded neatly. I like knowing where things are and being able to find them quickly. And I don’t have to iron as much because my clothes aren’t wrinkled.

“Your drawers look like the Macy’s clothing store, and mine look like the homeless shelter,” says my sister, Zzzzah-Zzaz, who admits she’s messy.

If she goes looking for something to wear and can’t find it, she’ll throw all her clothes onto the floor or on her bed. To “clean up” she stuffs clothes and other things into drawers where no one can see them.

When we were in elementary school I was too busy playing with my toys to care about how our room looked. The problems started in middle school. We lived with our aunt and she forced us to start keeping our bedroom clean. This was easy for me because I was naturally clean. But it was hard for Zzzzah-Zzaz because she wasn’t. She didn’t get in trouble as much as she should have, though, because she’d hide her things. She was undercover messy.

My sister would get caught when my aunt would see the sleeve of a shirt or part of a scarf hanging outside her drawer, or when she’d catch my sister struggling to open a drawer that was overstuffed with clothes, journals, purses, chargers for electronics, makeup and school supplies. My aunt would then order her to clean it. Or when my sister was at school, my aunt would put everything from under my sister’s bed on top of it along with pulling the drawers out of her dresser and dumping everything on her bed. With all of that covering her bed, she would have to clean before she could go to sleep.

When I watched her cleaning, I’d think, “It doesn’t take that long to fold your clothes. And you should never have to take everything out your drawers to find something. You just have to pick up one shirt to get to the one under it.”

 Our room didn’t stay clean for very long

Even when my sister did put stuff away and organize her drawers, it would last for two weeks, at the most. For about one week, I got the clean bedroom I liked to live in. The two sides of our room looked like mirror images. All our shoes were in the bins, our comforters were both perfectly straight and all of our stuffed animals were sitting neatly on our beds. 

I could relax not having to clean up after her. Her dresses were on hangers instead of under her bed, the floor was clean instead of dotted with rubber bands from her hair and her jacket was in the closet instead of on a bedpost. I have to admit, I hung my jackets on the bedposts, too.

Zzzahkia (right) and her sister, Zzzzah-Zzaz, have always shared a bedroom.

After about a week she got too lazy to care about keeping her stuff organized and then I’d see her slide notebooks under her bed. Then I’d notice her stuffing clothes in her dresser drawers again. And then the rubber bands would start re-appearing. After the second week, I’d be so irritated that I’d help clean even though I knew it would get messy in two weeks.

While I was helping her fold shirts, I’d say, “You need to keep this clean, because I don’t have time to be helping you.”

I stopped helping Zzzzah-Zzaz a few months ago. I was tired of this. She needed to start taking responsibility for staying organized. Of course she didn’t. Even though she always said “thank you,” I felt she was unappreciative. If she truly appreciated my help, then she would have kept the drawers the way I had helped her organize them. 

When her clothes mix up with mine in the closet and I have trouble finding my stuff, I get irritated that her mess is invading my space. So I’ll pick up her clothes and put them on her bed, just like my auntie used to do.

When she sees the pile of clothes I’ve made on her bed, she’ll tell me, “I’m not doing this.” She’ll put her clothes away without folding them so they’re still messy. Then I’ll put them back on the bed because I want her to fold them. She eventually folds her clothes and puts them away neatly.

We get into arguments about her being messy a couple times a week. She’s messy every day, but I try to ignore it most days because it’s not worth fighting all the time. 

Some people might say that I should just let her be messy, and that it’s not my place to be the clean police. If we didn’t share a room, I wouldn’t complain as much because I wouldn’t have to see her mess very often. But if they had to share a bedroom with her, they might feel like me.

I hope that someday she’ll change and she’ll fold her clothes (without anyone telling her to), keep her papers organized and when people ask her where her things are, she’ll be able to tell them. I don’t know if this will happen. But if she has her own house someday, people will judge her and she won’t want to be known as the woman with a messy house.

I know I probably won’t have my own room while I’m in high school, but I hope in college I’ll have a neat roommate.