A thing I have been curious about since I was about fourteen is why my living quarters are so much messier than other people’s. At that point it was mostly not my own fault, and now that it is, they are less messy. But still, there’s a clear gap between my room and many other people’s rooms that I see. Like for me, if you can see the places where the floor and the walls meet, or if there is a clear path between the door and at least one reasonable place to be in a room, these are victories (bonus points if you don’t have to do any unusual jumping or balancing to follow the path). And other people have entire twelve-foot cubes full of immaculately placed objects.

This might seem like a silly thing to wonder about. For one thing, isn’t it because I don’t choose to clean up my room, whereas they do? Or if not entirely that, isn’t it just that people vary, and I have the trait ‘messy’?

This isn’t very satisfying, because what does this difference looks like at a lower level? What is it like to be a tidy person? It’s not just about liking neatness I think. I love neatness. I fantasize every day about cleaning up my room, but then run out of time. It’s quite messy, so would be a lot of hassle to clean up, and I have a lot of things going on. Sometimes if I’m particularly on top of everything, I’ll substantially clean it up, but then as soon as I’m more overwhelmed with other things, I’ll let it slide again, and it will rapidly slide quite far. Kind of like other unsustainable virtuous lifestyle choices, like getting up extra early to read poetry before breakfast.

Maybe tidy people just really love tidiness, even more than I do? Or maybe they enjoy tidying, like I enjoy reading a little bit before bed, and somehow make time for it? Or do they just prioritize it even higher, like I prioritize work? Or do they have twice as much time or energy as me every day? Does messiness seem like an unconscionable sin, so that they wouldn’t dream of leaving an empty plate on their chest of drawers in the first place, even if they were in the middle of something? Would they never get home and toss a bag of stuff from an event in the corner rather than immediately unpacking it? Do they have fewer objects? (Yes, but I don’t think that explains it—for instance, I also manage to be a constant mild force for messiness in my boyfriend’s room. I suppose it could be about objects:storage ratio, but it doesn’t seem like it.) Does it somehow require less effort for tidy people to make things tidy?

I have thoughts, but first I’m curious to hear if any tidy people have insight.