Read this, and I’ll help you keep your room clean


It’s the end of the week. Before COVID, weekends meant going out with friends, seeing a movie, or -for a really special treat- going over to Easton. Things are a little different now, but what has definitely stayed the same is the deplorable state of my bedroom at the end of each week. 

And I’m a pretty organized and motivated person, but I cannot, for the life of me, keep my room clean. By the end of the week, there are glasses of water everywhere, clothes strewn all over the floor, and tea mugs next to my bed. The right thing to do, as my mom reminds me every day, would be to take a couple glasses or mugs down to the kitchen each time I leave my room to go downstairs. That way, I’m constantly cleaning as the week goes on.

But each time I leave my room to go downstairs and pass something I should take, it’s like the world goes in slow-motion. The cup stares at me, and I stare back at it, and I know (yes, trust me, I know) that I should grab it. I mean, looking down, I also have two open hands that can readily take that cup. But I just don’t take it. I can’t. I walk right past it and let the pile accumulate even more.

Why? Good question. But it’s not just me. My sisters do it, my friends do it; it’s a universal problem (with teenagers, anyway). There are probably a lot of different explanations for this, and some would just deem it pure laziness, but I have a different theory.

 I’ve set my phone down right next to one of the piles of cups before, and while I’m about to go downstairs, while I’m so close to the pile, I just take my phone. 

What’s the difference between a phone and cups? Well, a lot, but the difference that is important here is the possibility of a reward. The reward for using my phone is simple. I can watch funny videos, text my friends or look up anything I want. It’s nice to have it always around with me. Yet, the reward for putting my cups in the dishwasher is minimal. Plus, it’s also a way of procrastinating, as I know I will eventually end up cleaning my room, so I’m graciously leaving the job to future-me.

But this is indicative of a larger problem. Not only is it encouraging procrastination, but it is also encouraging this idea of a need for a reward, which is selfish. We don’t need a reward for every action we take. Still, I do understand; it’s really easy to become selfish. I used to always think, “This is my life, so I’m really the only one that matters,” but that is completely morally wrong. 

Morality, as a teenager, seems like something that is far off and unthinkable. Yet as I have grown older, the need to establish my own morals has become strikingly clear. You need to make a lot of tough decisions in high school, and, without a consistent moral code, everything just becomes murky and confusing. You will regret some of the choices you made and end up hurting people. 

So, is it selfish not to clean your room? Maybe. You’re skipping out on things that need to be done to do other, more entertaining stuff instead – that’s the basis for hedonism. And, believe me, I’ve done enough analysis on Oscar Wilde to know that living a hedonistic lifestyle is the beginning of misery and destruction.

There are some things that are just tough by nature, and making yourself get out of bed and clean your room is definitely one of those. I won’t claim that there is a huge pay-off, but what I will say is that it may make you feel better internally (and it will also make your parents happy). If there is just one action you can take to make home-life a little bit easier, and learn a little bit about yourself and your moral code while you’re at it, then I say it’s worth doing.