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Lefty Struggles Are Real, But It’s Not All Bad

by : Hannah Smith on : 10 Jun 2021 18:03
Lefty Struggles Are Real, But It's Not All BadDisney/PA Images

Being left-handed has always had its pros and cons. As a kid, it was pretty simple: special green and yellow left-handed scissors (very cool); being stuck writing in pencil after the other kids had graduated to pens because I’d always just smudge the page, a genuine humiliation.

Getting older though, I started to realise that being left-handed doesn’t just cause issues with stationery. The truth is, most things in life just aren’t designed with lefties in mind.

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Often it’s easier to just give into right-handed dominance. I learned to play sports and instruments with my non-dominant hand to cause less hassle – to varying degrees of success – and tolerated the semi-permanent ink stain on my hand during exam periods.

Frustrated student (Pixabay) Pixabay

Most of the time, us lefties suffer in silence. After all, being left-handed is hardly the most significant problem in the world. But in a recent Reddit thread, lefties finally begin speaking out about all the ways in which life has been made just that little bit harder, and it’s not just scissors and pens.

In response to a question asking what lefties still struggle with in today’s world, people came forward with all sorts of minor and major gripes, from spatulas slanted the opposite way and measuring jugs with the numbers facing away from you, to the constant risk of maiming yourself using power tools with the safety guards on the wrong side.

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Mostly though, the thread was full of people admitting that they’ve often had no choice but to conform to righty expectations. ‘I’ve adapted to doing nearly everything with my right hand, besides writing. I feel I’m a disgrace to the left handed community,’ one person wrote.

Barack Obama writes with his left hand (PA Images)PA Images

‘As a lefty, I’ve come to the realization that in the real world you’re either right handed or ambidextrous,’ summarised the top-voted comment on the thread.

Others pointed out that specialist lefty equipment, like left-handed guitars and golf clubs, is often more expensive (yet somehow also worse) than standard versions – a blatant case of lefty discrimination.

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In the grand scheme of things, these are all pretty minor inconveniences, but that doesn’t mean lefties haven’t faced actual problems. Until relatively recently, left-handed kids were literally forced by teachers to write with their right hand (‘My kindergarten teacher slapped my hand with a ruler so I learned to write with my right hand and have terrible penmanship as a result,’ one Redditor recalled).

Apparently, this intolerance may stem from a historic belief that ‘left = bad’ (the word ‘sinister’ literally stems from the Latin word used to describe left handedness). In recent years however, lefties have benefited from some serious image rehabilitation, with the trait coming to be associated with higher intelligence and creativity.

It might seem like a weird stereotype, but science backs it up. A 2019 study found that being left-handed is partially genetic, and is linked with improved verbal skills. Other studies have suggested that lefties are more creative; in part because they’ve had to adapt to a right-handed world from an early age.

Ned Flanders' Leftorium (FOX)Disney
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Even anecdotally, this checks out. Just take a look at a list of famous lefties, and you’ll notice that it features pretty much every important person in the history of the world.

Seriously. Einstein; Marie Curie; Aristotle; Leonardo da Vinci, Oprah, Barack Obama; and that’s just TIME‘s top 10.

Want more proof? Five of the past nine US presidents were left-handed. In a population where just 10% of people are estimated to be left-handed, that’s either a serious statistical anomaly, or proof that there’s just something about lefties that makes them predisposed to success.

Which is all to say – it gets a bad rep, but being a lefty has its upsides too.

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I mean, sure, the closest thing we’ve ever had to a leftie icon is Ned Flanders. But we’re unique, adaptable and in very good company. If being left-handed is good enough for Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney, it’s good enough for me.

Featured Image Credit: Fox/PA Images

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