My closet was designed to make everything visible and neat and easy to keep that way. I used to not be able to find anything in my closet, so when my mother redesigned it, all the drawers were clear ones, and there are racks for dresses, coats and shoes. Sports equipment, craft projects, blankets, old Halloween costumes, pom-poms, everything you can imagine stuffed into one small space. My mom thought it would be tidy with maximum transparency, but you see, that isn’t exactly what happened.

Now, in my closet you’ll find shirts and pants spill out of the drawers and are jammed in between. I can never find a matching pair of socks and I’m pretty sure I don’t have any two of the same gloves anymore. I have my old, dusty green sleeping bag and yellowing mattress pad thrown messily on top of the drawers and racks. I will most likely never use either of them again, but I still keep them, even though they contribute to the clutter. Every drawer is left open after I get ready in the morning, and they are still open after I put my pajamas on. This may seem like a sign of careless acts, of laziness, but I think there’s more to it.

Theory 1: I’m a quitter. After I put on a new shirt, folding the one I just had on, putting it back in the drawer and closing it is too much completion and commitment for me. Over the years I have quit (not in any particular order) tap dance, ballet, swimming, art class, horseback riding, soccer, circus class, yoga, yogilates, writing class, theater class, and last but not least, fashion design. I just can’t finish things. A scroll through my computer would find a trove of incomplete stories and poems that I started in a fit of inspiration but then quickly got bored. I have begun countless projects left unfinished: photo albums, spring cleaning, room re-decorating. If I can’t finish anything important, closing my drawers is not going to happen.

Theory 2: I just get too distracted to actually slide any drawer shut with a satisfying click. I do my homework while also playing music and checking email and Facebook. Once I even downloaded an app to regulate the time I spend on certain websites because I have no self-control. I am also easily amused, which may contribute to the problem. Someone sends me the link to a website that looks like Jell-O and makes a noise when it is clicked, and I am happy to just click on it and laugh while the minutes tick past. Just now, while writing this, I had to restrain myself from taking a short break to watch the jiggling again. How is anyone supposed to accomplish anything when there is Jell-O to be moved? How am I supposed to close my drawers when there is so much else in the world that is far more interesting?

Theory 3: I have a fear of confrontation, and closing my drawers would be dealing with my problems directly. I once had a friend who badmouthed me online, and I never did get around to telling her that I knew what happened and was upset about it. Instead I tried to tell her telepathically, and I’ll never know if it worked or not. I don’t like to deal with issues head on, and closing my drawers would be addressing the problem of closet untidiness.

But it could just possibly be that closing drawers symbolizes closing opportunities. When I shut off one crumpled, mashed-together pile of shirts or sweaters, I am closing the opportunity to switch tops. Maybe that small choice changed the course of events. Maybe if I had worn the green sweater instead of the black one, I would’ve gotten a compliment from someone who would later turn out to be the interviewer at a job interview I was nervous about, and then I would get the job and it would turn out to be the perfect career. If I had closed the drawer too soon, I would have lived an inferior and unhappy life. Why close the drawers on life? We should keep everything open to new ideas and possibilities.

No matter how much annoyance it brings to my mother, I will not and cannot break the open drawer habit. So what if my clothes are covered in wrinkles and cat hair because they fall onto the floor? I want to be free to spend my time on important things, to keep all options open. Maybe a whole better world could start with that green sweater.

Alina Kulman, Age 13, Grade 8, Hunter College High School, Silver Key

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