On Being Left Handed in a Right Handed World

Let me start off by saying: THE STRUGGLE IS SO REAL!

You righties have no idea how good you have it! You go through life with your right-handed selves just using whichever scissors you want and sitting down for dinner all willy-nilly.

Hello. My name is Molly Hall-Martin, and I am a lefty. Yes, you read that correctly, I am a left-handed individual surviving in this righty run world.

Struggle #1: The classroom desk.

I am that person that at the start of every semester would have the instructor make an announcement telling all the right-handed folk to stay the hell away from my left-handed desk. In a lecture hall, there are over 300 seats. I’d guess that at least 250 of them are made for righties. That means, at most, only 50 are left-handed desks. So why in the name of all that is holy would a righty choose to sit in my glorious lefty desk?! It can’t be comfortable. I know how awkward sitting in a righty desk as a lefty can be. It’s the same thing, but backwards. Stay out of my seat!

A sea of right-handed desks for you to choose from, yet you sit in my lefty desk

A sea of right-handed desks for you to choose from, yet you sit in my lefty desk

Struggle #2: The spiral notebook

Whenever I talk about the struggle that is the notebook, the response I usually get is that righties face the same issue when they go to write on the back of the page. That’s great and everything, but since our society reads front-to-back you get the advantage from the beginning. I’d have to go all Da Vinci and start from the back of the notebook to get that same effect. Then there’s the notebooks with the spiral on the top. They market them to lefties. “Look! The spiral’s on top! All your lefty troubles have vanished!” Except for that whole part where they mark up the price because it’s not “standard.” Personally, I stick to legal pads (cheap) or PaperBlanks (spiral free and stylish).

Struggle #3: Pencils

Don’t get me wrong, I was always a big fan of pencils in my younger years. Especially the 0.5mm mechanical pencils. That has everything to do with my having small handwriting though. The issue with pencils for a lefty has everything to do with the smearing. By the end of every essay test I ever took in high school, the entire side of my hand would be covered in graphite and everything on the paper would be smudged almost to the point of being illegible. Womp.

Struggle #4: The ball-point pen

Little known fact: the ball in a ball-point pen is designed to roll most effectively when pulled in the direction of one’s writing. Lesser known fact: left handed people push rather than pull when writing in the standard left-to-right motion. This means that ball-point pens hate us. This is why I gave up and refuse to buy the darn things. That and the fact that the ink doesn’t dry fast enough so I wind up smearing it when I actually managed to get the pen to write for me. Righties don’t know how good they have it. You can just walk in anywhere and know that somebody will have a pen that will work for you. I am forced to travel with my own pens as felt tip pens are the only pens that love lefties on a consistent basis. Too bad they cost way more than a pack of Bic ball points.

Best pens of my life!

Best pens of my life!

Struggle #5: Gym class

Whether it’s the fact that there is likely only going to be one old, nasty lefty glove or the fact that the teacher has to step in to pitch for your classmates so you don’t get drilled with a ball, the softball/baseball unit of gym class was always the worst. If you go to a school that offered golf as part of the PE curriculum, good luck. Instruction in left-handed golfing usually amounts to: “Just do what everybody else is doing, only backwards.” Trust me, I know from experience.

Struggle #6: Group meals

This one is huge! It will require a diagram, but first an explanation. Lefties always have to be cognizant of where we sit at a dinner table for fear that if we sit on the right side of a righty, we will eventually wind up in an elbow war while trying to eat. That means, there are only certain seats at a table where we can safely sit and eat. Also, round tables that are filled to capacity are the worst!

Unless you are lucky enough to find another lefty to sit by, the red x's mark the only safe seats at a table while eating.

Unless you are lucky enough to find another lefty to sit by, the red x’s mark the only safe seats at a table while eating.

Struggle #7: Kitchen utensils 

The number of kitchen utensils designed for righties are out of hand. The biggest culprit being the can opener! Goodness! Trying to open cans is the struggle! Also, kitchen scissors, all scissors if I’m being honest. Corkscrews are the struggle. Measuring cups are the worst! We can only read the metric side unless we use the thing like a righty. Ice cream and dough scoops: backwards. The list goes on and on, but I’ll stop there. At a young age, I learned to adapt in the kitchen (for the most part). I learned to cut with my right hand and can use a can opener pretty effectively. I still hate measuring cups and ice cream scoops though.

Struggle #8: Reactions to one’s handedness

“Oh my gosh! You’re left handed?!” Nope. I actually write with my left hand just to see what you’ll say. It never fails. The second somebody sees you writing, eating, or doing any number of handed tasks with your left hand the comments fly.

“You must be artistic.”
“My [insert relative/acquaintance] is a lefty!”
“Did you know that [celebrity] is left handed?”
“Did you know there’s a scholarship for that?”
“Are you good at math?”
“You must be pretty musical?”
“Was it really hard to learn how to write?”
“Have you ever had that smudge thing happen to you when you write?”
“I always wanted to be left handed.”

The random things people have to say about being a lefty never cease to amaze me. I really should start writing all of them down.

This list is far from comprehensive. In fact, Thought Catalog, BuzzFeed, and quite a few others have tackled this same issue because we need to keep the lefty struggle in the forefront of everybody’s mind so as not to be forgotten.

I will leave you with some fun facts regarding lefties and encourage you to think of your left-handed friends when you take a seat at a table.

The facts were found at leftyfretz.com so I’m not 100% sure of their validity. They’re fun though! I’ve noted those that speak to me. Ha!

Scientific Left Handed Facts

  • Make up between 5% and 10% of the population (depending on who you ask)
  • More likely to have allergies (spring = death)
  • More prone to migraines (the main reason I need sick leave)
  • More likely to be insomniacs
  • Use the right side of the brain the most
  • Three times more likely to become alcoholics – the right side of the brain has a lower tolerance to alcohol!
  • More likely to be on extreme poles of the intelligence scale
  • Tend to reach puberty 4 to 5 months later than right handers
  • More likely to suffer stuttering and dyslexia
  • Twice as likely to be a man
  • Better at 3D perception and thinking
  • Better at multi-tasking (at least that’s what I like to tell myself)
  • Live on average 9 years less than right handed people
  • 39% more likely to be homosexual

Interesting Left Handed Trivia

  • Make especially good baseball players, tennis players, swimmers, boxers and fencers (almost 40% of the top tennis players are lefties)
  • Celebrate left handed day once a year – August 13th – International Left Handers Day
  • Draw figures facing to the right (so many right facing pianos)
  • Recover from strokes faster
  • More likely to pursue creative careers
  • Of the seven most recent U.S Presidents, 4 have been left handed
  • Left handed college graduates go on to become 26% richer than right handed graduates (totally here for this, but I’m in education so doubtful)
  • On a QWERTY keyboard there are 1447 English words typed solely with the left hand, whilst only 187 are typed with the right hand. (Ha! Take that righties!)

Bizarre Left Handed Statistics

  • Adjust to seeing underwater quicker
  • Less able to roll their tongue than a righty
  • Nails grow faster on the left hand than the right (fingerpicking advantage anyone?)
RIP Lefty Friends

RIP Lefty Friends


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