I write left-handed. I brush my teeth left-handed. I sometimes eat left-handed. But I’m not a true left-hander. I CHOSE to be left-handed.
My wonderful dad is as “lefty” as it gets. He uses special scissors; he writes with his hand contorted (I think to be able to see what he’s writing). There are things that he can do right-handed, but only because it was drilled into him at an early age, presumably because in his day, it was completely backward to be a “southpaw.” I’m surprised that he didn’t develop a speech impediment.
To be a left-hander, you are different. It’s a separate culture. And depending on the timeframe you grew up in, you might be considered unique, special; or shunned, an outcast, made fun of. I grew up in the unique, special time, so I elected to be left-handed. I CHOSE.
Before I even started school, I had already shown signs of “confusion.” I would move my fork from one hand to the other at dinner, I would brush my hair with whatever hand had picked up the brush. I apparently colored with whatever hand the crayon was closest to. My parents were worried. What if I tried to learn to write with both hands and this slowed me down in school? So, they sat me down to have a talk with me. I can even remember the conversation to this day. Sitting on my dad’s knee, with a chair pulled out from the dining room table (apparently where we liked to hold family conferences), my mom sitting in a chair next to us, leaning forward to be able to look me in the eye as we talked. They told me I needed to pick a hand (they didn’t explain why until my adult years, guess they figured I wouldn’t understand). So with a child’s logic, I decided to be left-handed. You see, my mother was right-handed, as was my older sister. My dad was left-handed. I didn’t want him to be the only one in the family, so I chose to even the family out. I didn’t know what I was getting into.
I didn’t realize there would be difficulties. Smeared ink all up and down your hand because you chose the wrong type of pen (lefties move their hands over what has been written). Those sweet ring imprints on your hand from spiral-bound notebooks. Trying to contort yourself in a little desk in school or an auditorium in college, because the only available writing space comes out of the right-hand side. Playing musical chairs in restaurants, because you don’t want to clash elbows with someone as you eat. Having to do the “hot mug juggle” because someone hands you the mug with the handle on the right. Mousing on a computer. Finding the right (or actually left) equipment, which most of the time costs more because of “special orders.” Insignificant in the whole scheme of things? Definitely. Inconvenient to those living with it day in and day out? To say the least. Depending on the social situation, it can even be embarrassing at times (although, less and less these days). There are even situations where being left-handed can be an advantage, which is where I choose to focus going forward in my life (look up laterality, or click on the links I have listed below).
I got off easy. Having elected to be left-handed, I could easily switch in most situations where it was an issue. Others are not so lucky. Right-handed people don’t usually recognize the situations where there is a “hand to it,” and lefties have been taught from infancy to adjust and adapt without thinking about it. It’s us truly ambidextrous people in the middle that recognize and appreciate.
As we celebrate Left-Handers Day on August 13th, Lefties, I salute you (with the left hand of course), and I join you in both commiseration and celebration. Right-handers, join us and high-five (with your left-hand) a Lefty in celebration!
“The left-handed are precious; they take places which are inconvenient for the rest.” — Victor Hugo
“If the left half of the brain controls the right half of the body then only left-handed people are in the right mind.” — W.C. Fields