Left-handed people often like to say that they are more intelligent (well, this left-hander does anyway!)
But it’s not a question of intelligence that sets us lefties apart so much as the motor cortex in the brain. In left-handed people, the right side of the brain (which controls the left side of the body) is dominant, and in right-handers, the left motor cortex controls fine motor tasks.
That’s all well and good, but since the world is predominantly right-handed and lefties only make up about 10-12% of the global population, we’re left stumped by some of the ways in which the world is set up for us to fail. Or at least look clumsy while succeeding!
Right-handed people, read and learn!
1. Pens are a nightmare.
Although you can’t tell a left hander from just looking at their hands, look closer. That smudge or ink stain all along the side of the hand? It’s from covering the writing we just did while we wrote with a pen originally designed to pull the ink along in a smooth motion instead of pushing it awkwardly away from us.
When I was a child, my teacher attempted to teach me calligraphy. I ended up balancing my ink pen awkwardly, my hand hovering above the page in a desperate attempt not to smudge my carefully formed letters. I’m amazed my left hand isn’t permanently set in a claw shape by now!
2. Likewise, books and folders.
Try writing from the margin of a lever arch file, or a spiral notebook, with your left hand. Everything is bound from the left. Like my calligraphy contortions, the result is some strange mid-air balancing act. It’s either that or the pain of resting your hand on the unforgiving metal.
3. Scissors are a mystery.
None of my childhood achievements has stayed in my memory as vividly as the hysterical laughter of my primary school teacher as she witnessed my attempts to cut paper. Those mocking remarks to the rest of the class as she held up my ragged outline of what I had intended to be a circle still burn today.
Scissors are still a sore subject. Having grown up to have a working, if not virtuoso, ability to pass myself as someone who can cut a straight(ish) line, I had no idea what to do when first handed a pair of left-handed scissors. They feel wrong, too! And as for potato peelers… spare me. Jacket potatoes for life.
4. Musical instruments are weapons.
Another way to stand out like a sore thumb is to be the only one with a left-handed violin in the school orchestra line. And be hated forever by the poor soul next to you who gets a bat in the face every time you swing your instrument the wrong way. That was clearly the only thing that prevented me from growing up to play in the London Philharmonic. Not my lack of talent. Of course not.
Seriously, stringed instruments are just a nightmare for lefties. Just learn to play right-handed if you wish to join any bands or keep your friends.
This rule does not, of course, apply to Sir Paul McCartney!
5. Sporting equipment is impossible.
AKA another way to have the mickey taken out of you at school. Avoid all sports that utilise the equipment designed for right-handers: hockey sticks, golf clubs and so on. Stick to the sports where you might gain a little advantage by your weird insistence on using your left hand. I’m talking tennis, baseball, cricket. And because you adapt so often, you’ll freak out opponents if you can switch hands now and again. It’s super handy for snooker and pool!
And the list goes on.
Right-handed desks, revolving doors, door handles, handshakes, high fives… how easily this could grow to a list of ten or more daily frustrations. Us lefties are not an invisible minority, but we can go under the radar. And actually, if we do go undetected, it’s a sign that we’re coping pretty well on the whole!
A plea to the right-handed majority, please be kind and have a little patience as we navigate your world!
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